Ghost of the Coast

Photo: Gary Allard

I used to chase the ‘Ghost of the Coast on the beaches of Ventura County when I worked for Patagonia.

When Tyler Vanosdell first moved to San Diego, more than 18 years ago, he never thought much about fly fishing the surf along the coast. But then he saw a ghost and was changed forever! When it comes to surf fishing in San Diego nothing beats the quest for Corbina. Sometimes called the “Ghost of the Coast” or the “Poor Man’s Permit” these fish are only here in the summer months when the water is at its warmest temperature. This species is only found in Southern California and is perhaps the only time you can sight cast in this fishery.  The largest recorded specimen was 28 inches long and weighed in at 8.5 lbs.

Just like Permit and Bonefish they can be elusive. You can be a hero one day and a zero the next. They hunt along the coastline for sand crabs, baitfish, and what every prey they can find. They will move back and forth with the waves, working structure that is covered up by water. Sometimes they can be seen tailing as the waves subside back out to the ocean. They are masters of camouflage, blending colors of the sand and the water at the same time.

Photo: Gary Allard

Throwing sand crab imitations is the popular fly to use along with full sinking fly line. Stay connected to your line with no slack. More often the take of the fly will be subtle.  Once you get one to take the fly they will kick it into overdrive and start pulling line from your reel! They can give you 3 to 5 good runs before surrendering. 

Bring it to hand, take your hero shot, and let her go! Photo: Gary Allard

Fly fishing for Corbina is not well known but once you experience the challenge you will never forget them!

If you ever find yourself in the San Diego area during the summer check another species off your bucket list by chasing Corbina with Tyler.


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