California Corbina

Corbina taken by Jimbojack at the Huntington Beach Pier

Species: Menticirrhus undulates (Girard, 1854); from the Latin words menticirrhus (chin barbel) and undulatus (waved, referring to the wavy lines on its sides).

Alternate Names: Whiting or California whiting, king croaker, corbie, corvina, bagre and the favorites of many—bean and beanie. In Mexico called berrugata californiana. In the late 1880s and early 1900s corbina were simply called surf in most SoCal newspapers although at times they were called surf fish; small corbina were often called nippers.

Identification:  California corbina have a long, slender, cylindrical-shaped body with a barbel on the tip of the lower jaw. Dorsal fin appears divided by a deep notch but remains connected by the membrane. Their coloring is a dark metallic blue or sooty gray on the back fading to lighter sides, with wavy diagonal lines, and a whitish belly.

Corbina from the Goleta Pier in 2003

Size: Up to 28 inches and 7 pounds, 4 ounces (although an unverified 8 1/2 pound fish was reported); most off piers are 16-24 inches in length. The California record fish weighed 7 lb 1 oz and was taken from Newport Harbor in May of 2005.

Range: Bahia Magdalena, southern Baja California and the Gulf of California to Point Conception.

Habitat: Prefers shallow-water, oceanfront surf in groups of two or three or small schools; sometimes found in bays.  Found down to 45 feet but usually in water 3-18 feet deep.

Corbina from the Seal Beach Pier in 2001

Piers: Common at sandy beach piers in southern California with best fishing occurring during the summer months, July to September. Best bets: Crystal Pier, Oceanside Pier, San Clemente Pier, Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach Pier, Malibu Pier, and Goleta Pier.

Shoreline: One of the main catches by sandy shore anglers in southern California. All sandy beaches between San Diego and San Pedro are considered good corbina beaches; San Onofre is considered one of the best.

Boats: Rarely taken from boats.

Corbina from the Oceanside Pier in 2015

Bait and Tackle: Corbina dine almost exclusively on sand crabs so this is by far the best bait—especially soft-shelled sand crabs. Many, however, are also caught on bloodworms, lugworms, clams, fresh mussels, and even small pieces of shrimp.  If you can find them, innkeeper worms are also considered one of the best baits for corbina. Light to medium tackle is best with a high/low leader and size 6 or 4 hooks. The bait and hook should be totally covered by the bait, and the bait should be slowly reeled in, a foot or so at a time. Corbina like to eat in very shallow water (at times the back will nearly be out of the water), so fish as close to shore as possible. (This is one fish in which pier fishermen are at a disadvantage: because of the angle and wave action it is sometimes hard to hold a spot without using too large a sinker). Corbina are another croaker that often bites far better at night.

Food Value: A very good, mild-flavored fish suited to almost any type of cooking. Unfortunately, due to its bottom eating nature, it may ingest toxic creatures like worms and thus develop low levels of toxicity itself. In some areas, people are warned to restrict their intake of food from corbina. Such is life in modern day southern California.

Comments: Many fishermen consider corbina the number one surf fish in Southern California because they reach a good size, are good eating, and they’re one of the hardest fish to catch without the proper know-how. Corbina have been illegal to take by net since 1909 and illegal to buy or sell since 1915. Corbina caught by Mrs. June at the Goleta Pier in 2006

Pretty interesting story I ran aross while researching fishing at the Redondo Beach Pier given that the state record fish is 7 Lb. 1 oz. and they’re generally considered to reach a size a little over 7 pounds.

 Boss Corbina Breaks Record—

Eleven-Pounder Is Caught By A Redondo Angler

At last the great, great grand-daddy of the Corbina tribe has been gathered to his fathers and a nine days’ sensation among fishermen ended. After long years of piscatorial vicissitudes in which more than once he had formed temporary but entangling alliances with the leaders of briefly lucky bait butchers; after countless sessions of intermittent chase of the succulent sand-crab varied by occasional séances with the secretive clam, this silver-scaled giant last week fell a victim to the wiles of A. White of Redondo in the still waters of the night and under the seductive light of the full moon.

His weight at capture was eleven pounds and two ounces, which is by far in excess of all known records for corbina in this vicinity.

The Sunday preceding Harry Slotterbeck perceived a huge fish of some sort groveling slowly on the bottom; searching for food after the manner of corbina. From its excessive length which he estimated to be three feet, at least, Slotterbeck fancied he was watching a shark, but a white flash from the side caused him to look closer and hardly believing his eyes, he recognized a corbina of most phenomenal proportions. Calling a friend, he too pronounced it a grand “surf” fish. The pair tried to catch the prize but he was wary and cared nothing bait. They quit in vain.

The moonlight and the quiet night helped Mr. White two days later, and in triumph, he carried away the huge fish after a prolonged, nerve-racking tussle in the breakers. The big fellow put up the tremendous fight that might be expected from a seasoned veteran, strong and well schooled by time in all the arts and wiles that make corbina popular with fishermen. Mr. White had a twenty-minute tussle with his prize and nearly fell off the wharf when he got to look at it. He describes the catch as having a head the size of a man’s and bearing all the evidences of extreme age, though it was strong enough in the water. How old a fish of such extreme size must be left to conjecture.

Corbina of small size and ravenous appetites were plentiful Sunday at all points from Del Rey and Redondo to Huntington Beach. F. Seeberg caught nearly a dozen fine sized ones off the beach in Santa Monica the largest weighing 4 ½ pounds. At Redondo Harry Slotterbeck caught nearly two dozen “nippers.”

Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1904

Corbina from the Oceanside Pier in 2012

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Largemouth Blenny

Phylum: Chordata — Class: Actinopterygil — Order: Perciformes — Family: Labrisomidae — Genus: Labrisomus

Largemouth Blenny — Breeding male caught at the Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon

Species: Labrisomus xanti (T. N. Gill, 1860); from the Greek words labrax (a fish) and soma (body). xanti = ?

Alternate Names: Rock Blenny. Commonly found in Mexico; Spanish names include Blenia Bocona, Chalapo, Curiche, and Trambollo

Identification: “Largemouth Blennies have shortened elongated robust bodies with a uniform depth throughout that tapers gradually at the rear into the tail. They are greenish-brown in color with eight dark bars along their sides and two thin dark stripes bordering a pale area behind and a little below their eyes. They have a black blotch at the front of their dorsal fin and numerous small white spots on the lower parts of their head and body. Breeding males are red with a large black spot between the second and fourth dorsal spines (pictured below). Their head is broad with a blunt snout, large eyes, a branched cirrus over each eye, and several branched cirri on each side of the nape. Their mouth is large, opens at the front, and is slightly oblique; it is equipped with one row of small teeth on the upper and lower jaws and includes teeth on the roof of the mouth. Their anal fin has two spines and 17 to 19 rays; their caudal fin is square; and their dorsal fin has 17 to 19 spines and ten to 12 rays with a deep notch in between. They are covered with small smooth scales.” — John Snow

Size: To 7.1 inches.

Largemouth Blenny — Female caught at the Cabrillo Mole, Avalon

Range: An Eastern Pacific species found from Mexico’s central Pacific coast (south to Acapulco including the Revillagigedo Islands and Tres Marias Islands); the Gulf of California (Mazatlán to Roca Consag); and Baja, California’s Pacific coast (north to Puerto Mala Arrimo in Bahía Sebastián Vizcaino—central Baja). Some sources say the southern range on Mexico’s central coast is Bahía Tenacatita, Jalisco or Bahia Chamela, Jalisco (near Manzanillo, north of Acapulco). Apparently abundant in many areas. Unconfirmed reports from Panama (no date) and Peru (1919 and 1938) may be similar species; first reported in California in 2015 near La Jolla and now apparently fairly common at Catalina Island.

Habitat: One of the most common blennies and most common reef fish in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). Generally found in kelp-covered, rocky shorelines and in coral reefs down to a depth of about 35 feet. Considered a shallow water diurnal (day-time) predator that feeds mostly on benthic (bottom) crustaceans such as small crabs and shrimp.

Piers: Green Pleasure Pier and Cabrillo Mole, both in Avalon on Catalina Island.

Bait and Tackle: Small hooks (size 6 or smaller) baited with pieces of shrimp or worms (blood worms and lug worms) when fished on the bottom will do the trick.

Food Value: Given their small size it’s better to simply let them go.

Comments: On a trip to Avalon in June 2017 I caught two of these fish, one at the Green Pleasure Pier and one at the Cabrillo Mole. Initially I thought they might be a species of kelpfish but the fins were wrong for kelpfish. I went through my normal fish I.D. books and couldn’t identify the fish so I sent a note to Milton Love at UC Santa Barbara. It turned out he (and others) had recently written a paper on the fish: Largemouth Blenny. They apparently showed up in California about 2015 and are now fairly common at La Jolla and Catalina Island. The speculation is that they moved north during the El Niño warm water conditions of 2015 and decided to stay.

Largemouth Blenny — Breeding male caught at the Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon

For the article on Largemouth Blenny by Milton Love, Julianne Kalman, Ben Cantrell and Philip A. Hastings:

or —

Identification borrowed from John Snow and his excellent page “Mexico — Fish, Marine Life, Birds and Terrestrial Life —

Youtube video:




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A Short Trip to Avalon & Catalina Island — June 2017

Given that my annual trip to Catalina was due, and that a ferry ride to Avalon is free on your birthday, I decided to head over to Avalon on June 6, my birthday, with my friend Hashem Nahid.

The casino at Avalon.

We decided to take the 6 a.m. ferry from Long Beach and had one of the smoothest rides we’ve ever had. The sea was like glass and except for the sight of a few dolphins it was simply a great morning to sit back, relax and get ready for three days of fishing.

Looking out toward the end of the Green Pleasure Pier

Hashem decided he wanted to first fish the Cabrillo Mole while I decided I would fish from the Green Pleasure Pier and “Skipper’s Corner,” a name bestowed upon my favorite spot years ago.

“Skipper’s Corner” — My favorite spot and a designation dating back to 2004. An early morning picture from our 2004 visit.

I would not be alone fishing out at the end of the pier. In fact, a cruise ship was anchored just offshore and an unending stream of visitors would be visiting Avalon, and seemingly the Green Pleasure Pier (and its boat rides), throughout the day.

Although there did not seem to be the same number of some species, specifically halfmoon, blacksmith and garibaldi, the day would see a large number of ocean whitefish. Most trips to Catalina and the Green Pleasure Pier might yield a couple of whitefish but this trip would yield many, many more.

Ocean Whitefish

Throw out a few fish pellets and you could see how many fish were next to the pier. The large fish with a single spot on their back are opaleye. The calico-colored fish with many spots are kelp bass. The orange-colored fish are garibaldi.

A male rock wrasse with its characteristic black bar on its side

Day one saw me trying a variety of bait—blood worms, market shrimp, pieces of mackerel, and squid. Almost any time a blood worm was used a rock wrasse would be hooked.

June 6 would see me stay at the Green Pleasure Pier all day. The results: Fished: 8 a.m.-3:15 pm., 3:45-5 (8.5 hours): Fish: 36 Rock Wrasse, 34 Kelp Bass, 28 Ocean Whitefish, 7 Senorita, 1 Sheephead, 1 Garibaldi

At the end of the (fishing) day Hashem and I both checked into the Hermosa Hotel (where members of PFIC and UPSAC have been staying since 2002) and once again saw our now longtime-friend and host Mindy. A dinner at the always-on-the-first-day restaurant Antonio’s and we were ready for a little shut eye.

The Hermosa Hotel & Cottages

We always get cottages

June 7 would see a day split between the Green Pleasure Pier and the Cabrillo Mole. Hashem needed to post some “limit’s rules” on the pier so we both fished the GPP in the morning.

Mahigeer aka Hashem Nahid

In the afternoon I headed out to the Mole while Hashem stayed at the GPP.  In the evening we both headed out to the Mole for a little late night fishing. Things were slow at the Mole with the kelp acting strange and the whole area seeming somewhat dead. In part it may have been due to the tides which were very high/low, and the full moon the previous night which can affect the daytime fishing. What was biting really well were the garibaldi, which are California’s saltwater fish and illegal to keep. The nighttime hours produced kelp bass, opaleye, scorpionfish, a treefish and salema (which I have caught several times at night on the pier but never during the daylight hours).

A juvenile garibaldi still showing its blue spots and not quite as orange coloring.

A “teenage” garibaldi not quite an adult; still some blue and not as bright as the adults.

An adult garibaldi showing its bright coloring


I caught this small “mystery fish” that at first I thought was a kelpfish but the fins are wrong. Checking on the identity of this fish and a similar one from the Green Pleasure Pier. [ I sent a note to Milton Love at UCSB, THE expert on fish. His reply: "Both of those are the largemouth blenny, Labrisomus xanti. I just wrote a paper describing the first times these fish were seen in California - about 2 years ago. They seem to have come northwards during, or perhaps just before, the last El Nino, and are now fairly common at Catalina, La Jolla, and one or more of the lagoons north of La Jolla. The red one is a breeding male and the other one is likely a female."] This fish would be the female.

For the article on Largemouth Blenny by Milton Love, Julianne Kalman, Ben Cantrell and Philip A. Hastings:

June 7, Results were from the two piers: (1) Green Pleasure Pier—Fished: 6:10 a.m.-7:10, 8:30-12:45  (5.25 Hours); Fish:  17 Kelp Bass, 9 Ocean Whitefish, 6 Rock Wrasse, 3 Senorita, 2 Sheephead; (2) Cabrillo Mole— Fished: 1:20 p.m.-5:20, 9:50-11:20 p.m. (5.5 Hours) Fish: 17 Garibaldi, 4 Kelp Bass, 3 Rock Wrasse, 3 Senorita, 2 Halfmoon, 2 Scorpionfish, 1 Sheephead, 1 Opaleye, 1 Treefish, 1 Salema, 1 Mystery Fish [Largemouth Blenny]

No overhead casting.

June 8, the final day, would be spent at the Green Pleasure Pier. The fishing was good and the company was great. Two things stood out. The first was the chance to continue fishing with a family we had met the first day. They lived in Los Angeles but originally were from Denmark and were really nice people. Both parents and their sons really liked to fish. We had fished together all three days and by the time they left on their boat from Avalon Harbor in the afternoon they almost felt like family.

We also met a fellow “pier rat” from the Pier Fishing In California family that had traveled to Catalina for the day. His screen name is EgoNonBaptizo  but he goes by Sky and was a knowledgeable angler. Not only was he a pleasure to fish with but he had caught a triggerfish while fishing out at the Mole.

Hashem and Sky

Sky and the triggerfish he had caught at the Mole. (Picture courtesy of Hashem Nahid)

Sky and Hashem fishing

I continued to pull in fish, mainly ocean whitefish ranging in size from 10-11 inches (although a few were as small as 8 inches and a few as large as 14 inches), and kelp bass mostly in the 9-12 inch range (with the legal size needing to be 14 inches). A few of the largest ocean whitefish were kept to be eaten but everything else was released. I did catch one mystery fish (that I am checking on — Largemouth Blenny).

Mystery Fish [Largemouth Blenny - Labrisomus xanti — breeding male]

The total for June 8: Green Pleasure Pier—Fished: 9:50 a.m.-1:50 p.m., 2:50-6:05 (7.25 Hours); Fish: 28 Kelp Bass, 23 Ocean Whitefish, 4 Rock Wrasse, 1 Sheephead, 1 Senorita, 1 Mystery Fish.

In the afternoon I decided I needed a break and walked around Avalon taking a few pictures. Herein, those pictures.

As for an overall recap of the fishing:, there were fewer large fish this trip but a plethora of smaller species and fish. Green Pleasure Pier – 21 Hours: 79 Kelp Bass, 60 Ocean Whitefish, 46 Rock Wrasse, 11 Senorita, 4 Sheephead, 1 Garibaldi and 1 Largemouth Blenny. Cabrillo Mole – 5.5 Hours: 17 Garibaldi, 4 Kelp Bass, 3 Rock Wrasse, 3 Senorita, 2 Halfmoon, 2 Scorpionfish, 1 Sheephead, 1 Opaleye, 1 Treefish, 1 Salema and 1 Largemouth Blenny.

The casino as seen from the Green Pleasure Pier

Picture of a sheephead on the “Green Submarine”

Avalon Harbor

The restaurant at the end of the Green Pleasure Pier

Anyone want to go diving?

The casino from the Green Pleasure Pier

The ramp that is installed at the end of the pier during the summer months

The Green Pleasure Pier from inshore

The Casino

The “House” on the hill


Scenes of Avalon

The famous weigh station for marlin and other large fish

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Record (Unofficial) Pier Caught California Halibut

If anyone knows of fish that should be added to the list please contact me.

 Some unofficial records —gathered from published reports

62 ¼ lbs. — Los Angeles Long Wharf, August 17, 1917 — Source: Port of Los Angeles, A Phenomenon of the Railroad Era, Ernest Marquez, 1975

58 Lbs. 11 Oz — Santa Monica Pier, Darrell Barry, March 10, 2001 — Source: Several including Santa Monica Pier Bait Shop, PFIC and Western Outdoor News, March 23, 2001

57 Lbs. 3 Oz. — Port Hueneme Pier, Joseph C, Groth, Sr., February 28, 1965 — Source: Pasadena Independent, March 4, 1965

54 Lbs. — Huntington Beach Pier, W. S. Keith & H. C. Carmichael, May 4, 1939— Source: Santa Ana Register, May 5, 1939

≈ 50 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Wharf, Unknown angler, January 4, 1940 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 5, 1940

49 ½ Lbs. — Seacliff Pier, Unknown angler, July 2, 1948 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 4, 1949

45 ¾ lbs. — Balboa Pier, Harry Campbell, May 20, 1927 — Source: Santa Ana Register, May 21, 1927

45 ½ Lbs. — Redondo Beach Pier, Virginia Lively, June 24, 1975 — Source: Long Beach Independent, July 2, 1975

45 Lbs. — Seacliff Pier (Aptos), Jack Elliott, July 1, 1946 —Source: Santa Cruz sentinel, July 2, 1946

44 Lbs. — Newport Pier, R. O. Stull, July 29, 1931—Source: Santa Ana Register, July 29, 1931

44 Lbs. — Huntington Beach Pier, Seymore Wilson, June 1933—Source: Santa Ana Register, June 5, 1933

43 Lbs. — Capitola Wharf, Wilbur Boyea, May 14, 1934 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 16, 1934

41 lbs. — Santa Monica Pier, Hoyt Holdridge, March 1957 — Source: San Bernardino County Sun, March 5, 1957

40 Lbs. — Seacliff Pier (Aptos), August 1942 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 6, 1942

40 Lbs. — Redondo Sportfishing Pier, August 2010—Source: Redondo Sportfishing

40 Lbs. — Monstad Pier (Redondo Beach), Dick Weddington, May 2, 1930— Source: Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1930

40 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, July 22, 1942 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 23, 1942

40 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Pleasure Pier, E. J. Owens, August 5, 1932 — Source: Santa Cruz Evening News, August 5, 1932

≈ 40 Lbs. — Oceanside Pier, September 2004— Source: Oceanside Pier Bait Shop

39 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, July 1949 —  Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 31, 1949

38 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, May 1953 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 6, 1953

38 Lbs. — Ocean Beach Pier, August 1998— Source: Ocean Beach Pier Bait Shop

38 Lbs. — Newport Pier, May 2001—Source: PFIC

37 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf — Clarence Hegewood, July 22, 1942 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 23, 1942

35 Lbs. — Ocean Park Pier, F. A. Buchanan, May 1908 — Source: Los Angeles Herald, May 31, 1908

35 Lbs. — Newport Pier, August 1940 — Source: Santa Ana Register, August 2, 1940

35 Lbs. — Paradise Cove Pier (Malibu), William Cambier, January 1967 — Source: Valley News, January 26, 1967

33 /12 Lbs. — Redondo Wharf No. 3, August 24, 1910—Source: Santa Ana Register, August 25, 1910

33 Lbs. — Point Mugu Fish Camp Pier, W. J. Stuart, August 1935 — Source: Oxnard Daily Courier, August 3, 1935

32 Lbs. — Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, June 23, 1948 — Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 24, 1948

30 Lbs. — Balboa Pier, Maybelle Davis, May 1934 — Source: Santa Ana Register, May 21, 1934

30 Lbs. — Huntington Beach Pier, Earl Nelson, October 2, 1908—Source: Santa Ana Register, October 3, 1908

30 Lbs. — Port Hueneme Pier, January 2000—Source: PFIC

30 Lbs. — Redondo Pier No. 3, J. K. Richardson, February 17, 1916—Source: Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1916

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Record (Unofficial) Pier Caught California Yellowtail

 If anyone knows of fish that should be added to the list please contact me.

 Some unofficial records —gathered from published reports

48.5 Pound Yellowtail — Tony Troncale, Crystal Pier 2012

55 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), Montre Somsukcharean, September 21, 2006—Source: Source: James Barrick, Crystal Pier Bait Shop & Peggi Straker

50 Lbs. — Pine Ave. Pier (Long Beach), Al Decker, July 1894—Source: Los Angeles Herald, July 3, 1894

48.5 Lbs. —Crystal Pier, Tony Troncale, August 6, 2012 — Source: James Barrick, Crystal Pier Bait Shop & PFIC

46 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), Thomas Shinsato, August 2015—Source: Source: Crystal Pier Bait Shop & Thomas Shinsato

42 Lb. 1 Oz. — Oceanside Pier, Elmo Nealoff, July 1955—Source: Oceanside Pier Bait Shop

42 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), October 2004—Source: James Barrick, Crystal Pier Bait Shop

40 Lbs. — Avalon wharf, Mrs. Boyce, June 9, 1897—Source: Los Angeles Herald, June 10, 1897

40 Lbs. — Avalon wharf, W. M. LeFavor, May 21, 1908—Source: Los Angeles Herald, May 22, 1908

40 Lbs. — Pier No. 3, Redondo Beach, August 1907— Source: Los Angeles Times, August 18, 1907

≈ 40 Lbs. — Redondo Beach Pier, October 2008—Source:

≈ 40 Lbs. — Hotel del Coronado Pier, September 21, 1899—Source: Los Angeles Times, September 22, 1899

36 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), August 2016Source: Crystal Pier Bait Shop\

35 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), August 2012—Source: James Barrick, Crystal Pier Bait Shop

35 Lbs. — Balboa Pier, Aaron, November 1, 2003— Source: PFIC

34 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), Angel Hernandez, August 2016—Source: Angel Hernandez

34 Lbs. — Crystal Pier (San Diego), Hallman, August 2012 Source: James Barrick, Crystal Pier Bait Shop

33 ½ Lbs. — Wharf #3 (Redondo Beach), August 24, 1910 — Source: Santa Ana Register, August 25, 1910

33 Lbs. — Newport Wharf, E. P. Deffley, May 1909—Source: Los Angeles Herald, May 22, 1909

32 ½ Lbs. — Avalon Wharf, W. M. LeFavor, May 20, 1908— Source: Los Angeles Herald, May 22, 1908

32 ½ Lbs. — Redondo Wharf, August 23, 1891— Source: Los Angeles Herald, August 24, 1891

30 Lbs. — Huntington Beach Pier, Earl Nelson, May 7, 1934 — Source: Santa Ana Register, May 8, 1934

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