The California Corbina is a saltwater fish and member of the croaker family. This species travels in small groups along the surf zone in a few inches of water to depths of 45 feet (14 m). The largest recorded specimen was 28 inches (710 mm) and 8.5 pounds. Adults have been seen feeding in the surf, at times in water so shallow that their backs were exposed. They scoop up mouthfuls of sand and separate the food by sending the sand through the gills.
The body of the California Corbina is elongate and slightly compressed. The head is long and the mouth is small, the upper jaw scarcely reaching a point below the front of the eye. The color is uniform grey with iridescent reflections, and with wavy diagonal lines on the sides. This croaker and the Yellowfin Croaker are the only two of the eight coastal croakers present in California waters to have a single fleshy projection, or barbel, on the lower jaw. The California Corbina usually has only one weak spine at the front of the anal fin, while the yellowfin croaker has two strong spines. The caudal fin (tail) is unusual in that the upper half has a concave trailing edge, the lower half trailing edge is convex.
California Corbina are caught throughout the year along southern California's sandy beaches, although fishing is at its best from July through September. They are very wary and difficult to hook as many an avid surf fisherman can affirm. Perhaps one reason is that they tend to mouth and chew their food and don't strike solidly very often. Sand crabs (usually softshells) are the preferred bait, though some anglers swear by blood worms, mussels, clams,pileworms, and ghost shrimp.
As an incoming tide fills in the holes, troughs and structure in the beach, California Corbina will come in with an incoming wash and utilize the barbel they have under their chin to dig and sometimes can be seen "tailing" for sand crabs. For anglers who prefer to fly fish in the surf, they are especially difficult to bring to hand. The fly patterns they prefer and will hit represent sand crabs, blood worms and other crustaceans. Although, these fish are difficult to hook, even an amateur spear fisher can easily spear these fish as they are not very wary of human contact. California Corbina are the perfect fish to learn how to aim and shoot your spear due to the fishes lack of fight/flight reaction. Fishing methods include drift fishing, saltwater jigging, spin casting, still fishing and surf casting.
California corbina occur from the Gulf of California, Mexico to Point Conception, California, and is a bottom fish found along sandy beaches and in shallow bays.