I have done my share of surf-fishing in the waves of Santa Maria Bay in front of Cielito Lindo and along the beach south of the camp at Fidel’s Pabellon. Santa Maria Bay begins at Punta Azufre at the east side of the narrow boca, continues east five miles or so as it takes a gentle arc to the south before it ends 13 miles from Azufre at Socorro. The best fishing has been along the southern stretch from Fidel’s to just before the uninterrupted sand meets the rocks and the dunes give way to the sandstone bluffs that mark Socorro. The surf perch here get frying-pan big, but there is not much else around where there are lots of sand crabs; I haven’t caught a yellowfin or spotfin croaker and have only caught two corbina, those speedy, powerful “grey ghosts” that forage in ankle-deep water along the Southern California coast, and both on the same day.
Corbina are one of my favorite fish to catch; they live in the surf zone and have to be powerful swimmers to dart in with the waves, snatch or suck sand crabs out of the sand in the shallows, and get back out to safer water away from diving pelicans. They are a spooky fish and sometimes won’t bite line larger than six- or eight-pound test, so trout gear is a popular method. Corbina, though solid and very tasty, don’t get much larger than five pounds and a two- to three-pounder is a prized catch. They can be very active in San Diego waters. Even so, a couple corbina caught over a few hours on an incoming tide is a good day.