Fly Fishing for Corbina: “The Magic Window”
When the water level reaches the perfect depth, I call this “The Magic Window.” This is the period when there’s the right amount of water for the corbina to feel comfortable to do head stands and tail over the sand crab beds. This amount of water is between a foot and two feet. They slide in, reach the edge of the bed, dip down or head plow, then immediately turn to retreat as the water gets sucked off the flat. This behavior can last between a half hour to an hour depending on how fast the tide pushes in. This is the prime time to connect with a fly, especially if you can get your fly on the sand crab bed prior to them reaching it. The fish are coming in hungry off the minus low tide. It’s feeding time! It’s equivalent to watching striped bass pin rain bait or sand eels tight to the edge of the shoreline during the classic fall blitzes off Montauk, only on a smaller scale.
Once the tide rises and begins to flood and fill in the flats, then their frantic charging behavior begins to slow down as they swim in a more parallel meandering pattern. Understanding these changes in water levels for corbina to feed aggressively is paramount to putting yourself in the perfect position to get those money shots. This behavior can vary from beach to beach. Some beaches may require a half a foot of water for ”The Magic Window” to occur, others may require a foot. Every beach has its own characteristics and opportunities. Make notes when you see this unique behavior so you can repeat this window the following day about an hour later. Understanding the structure and water levels for them to move, locate food and feed is very important to your success as a corbina sight fly fisher.
During the late spring and early summer months in Southern California, the surf begins to lay down as we begin more of a consistent warm weather pattern. We usually see a June gloom: warm overcast mornings with the sun reaching over the horizon around 8 a.m. June, July and August are typically warm and mild with flat surf conditions, perfect for sight casting. During these summer months, the water temperatures begin to warm and become more stable. When the water temperatures begin to rise around late June or early July, things start to get very interesting. The fish begin to school up and make their annual beach assault. I like for water temps to hit that 67 to 68 degree mark and remain consistent for the party to begin. If you have never witnessed this, it is pretty cool. You’ll see schools of corbina–backs sticking out of water, gliding towards the beach and standing on their heads to vacuum up sand crabs. This is the behavior we look forward to each summer, it’s the prime time to get your fly in front of them.
Excerpted with permission from The Corbina Diaries (Luv2FlyFish Media, 2020; all rights reserved).