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Ocean Sport Fishing – A Great Quality Time Family Hobby
The beauty of our world’s oceans is for the most part indescribable. Words like splendor and majesty can only scratch the surface, experimenting with ways to engage it are the only times we truly appreciate its wonders. It is a complex area of discovery that offers many opportunities to learn and, with that learning, an opportunity to share it with others. Nowhere on this earth can be considered more beautiful, but also red, incredibly spacious and impressive than the oceans. As a young child, I was drawn to her like a magnet to iron. I still remember going to the beach for the first time. It became an adventure for me that day, and I looked for ways to enjoy it throughout my life.
My father had a knack for getting his children interested in his hobbies. He enjoyed sport fishing of all kinds; sea and freshwater fishing were his passions. Because he shared this with all of his children, we developed a strong bond, both with him and with the leisure activity of sport fishing itself. From the age of six or seven until I was a young teenager, we enjoyed going fishing together many times.
We’ve made special trips just to catch the species that feed best at night; when the water temperature was right, or the moon was in the right phase, all he taught us. Finally, we were able to go sport fishing in ocean waters: when I was thirteen, I went on my first sea fishing trip with my father. It became one of my passions in life, many of which were gifts of experience and learning through him.
My first ocean sport fishing trip was in mid-summer 1967; my dad told me and my brother Steven that he was taking us the following Saturday night. This being a Tuesday, we were unable to sleep at night for the rest of the week. Our heads were full of wonder at the possibilities and ideas of what it could be. We had been on small boats several times, but never one as big as the sport fishing boats Dad had used with his friends. He always brought back big fish: Albacore, Yellowtail, Rock Cod, Calico Bass, Barracuda, Ling Cod, etc. We were so excited and could barely wait for Saturday to roll around, we just knew big hookups were brewing too.
Saturday is not too early for us. We were scheduled to leave that night at 11:00 p.m., for a day trip to the Coronado Islands off the southern California coast. We were heading to the outer bench fishing area; there was an El Niño current and large schools of tuna were coming relatively close to the islands. Dad was all smiles; you could see he was proud to take us on this particular journey. Two of his friends were coming too, and they teased me and my brother endlessly about those fish whipping our butts and so on. It just made us more eager to continue. The idea of a fish fighting so hard excited us even more. There were many visions that day.
We went to Pacific Landing in Long Beach, CA after stopping to buy some special lures Dad needed for us kids. Walking inside the landing office was exciting in itself, the sights and smells were fishing and fun. The walls were covered with taxidermy trophies, one of them was a very large “Black Sea Bass”, had a Cuban cigar in its mouth and excited us even more. The boats outside were 85 to 110 feet long, painted blue and white, and looked like some sort of floating paradise. We rented the appropriate fishing rods and reels for me and my brother. Dad helped us choose the right fishing tackle and the necessary leaders for the big fish. Finally, we got new burlap sacks to hold our catch and boarded the boat.
The boat left at 11:00 a.m. as planned. My brother and I were in seventh heaven. There wasn’t a place on board where we didn’t find our way. The skipper let us into the wheelhouse and we were impressed with the controls, radar, sonar fish finders, compass and radio system. Skip told us about everything, and I remember it like it was yesterday. We finally went to the dormitory and fell asleep restlessly. The sound of knocking on the deck woke us up the next morning. People were shouting loudly and from this noise big fish were hitting the deck with their strong tails. It was unlike anything we had heard before, but Steven and I knew it was jackpot time. We headed excitedly to the upper deck and our fishing rods.
When we got on deck it was 8:30am and a huge fish was pounding the deck right before our eyes. The deckhand, ‘Whitey’, had just removed the gaff after pulling the fish out of the water for the fisherman who had caught it. It was a 12-16 pound Yellowtail, and along the decks it seemed like everyone was hooked up. Poles were bent everywhere and smiles were on every face, including ours. We moved as fast as we could to retrieve our poles, which had been rigged with 8″ blue and white Apollo jigs the night before. Jocko, a friend of my dads saw us and called to see him. He laughing at us and teasing that we weren’t good anglers if we didn’t get our line wet in a minute.
I had a pretty good experience casting a conventional rig and was very good at it. My brother Steve was not left out either, we hunted quite a distance. The fish were literally boiling in the water. They could be seen breaking through the surface, and just below feeding on the buddy they had been thrown by the sailors. I started retrieving my Jig right after it hit the water. I wanted to keep it on the surface, or just below, because the fish were right there. About my third casting, I had a hookup that doubled my rod. The line was coming off my reel, so I adjusted my drag a bit harder. The line was still going on and I didn’t know what to do. My dad came in about that time and told me to put the brake on a bit more and let the fish take its head. Which means letting him run for a minute. I followed the instructions, impressed with the power I felt pulling my rod. I had caught big fish before, but nothing like it.
As the fish ran, it changed direction several times. Once towards the boat, causing my line to loosen, and once towards the bow. I had been there for about ten minutes, pulling the slack out of the line as fast as I could and alternately walking along the gunwale rail as the fish took me for a walk. Dad was there to encourage me, Jocko and his friend Claude encouraged me and predicted that the fish would wipe my buttocks, while having fun. I was quite tired, my arms had been locked from weight and tension for about 20 minutes already, but I could tell the fish was getting weaker and weaker. I would take him where I could see him struggling, and he would go full steam ahead, twice right under the boat. Eventually I brought him to the side of the boat where Whitey could blunder him.
It was a “bigeye tuna,” he said, and it was going to weigh about eighty pounds. I couldn’t believe how big it was when pulled across the deck. It took both Jocko and Whitey to get him on board using two boat hooks. hit the bridge, he slapped it hard with his tail for about a minute. Whitey hit him on the top of the head with a ‘Louisville Slugger’, just to calm him down. I was smiling from ear to ear, and Dad was congratulating me endlessly. Steven, my brother had caught two Yellowtails, averaging about 14-20 pounds each, and put his Jig back in the water. We caught lots of fish that day, but none were as big as my bigeye tuna. I didn’t get the Jackpot money, because I had never won the Jackpot the night before. My bigeye tuna was 86 lbs 14 oz, the largest fish on board that day. He filled the tub end to end, when we His cock stuck out the end of the tub about eight inches, he was really big.
We fished all morning and early afternoon. I grabbed a bag full of Yellowtail and Albacore, and some Barracuda to boot. Looks like they run in packs together. It was a great first trip. My dad knew we were going to catch fish, so he took us. He later explained that he hadn’t taken us before because he didn’t think he could land big fish yet. Well, sure, I said I was ready before this trip. He just laughed at me and rubbed my swollen head.
It’s moments like this that children remember forever. It’s moments like this that create a connection with nature and parents. I have never forgotten a minute of this trip. This happened many years ago and was followed by many solo trips, trips with my friend John Hogan and my sister Charlene. After this trip, my father would later give me twenty dollars so that I could join the fishing boats alone or with a friend. That’s why I’m sharing this now. You can never have a better time to share with your children than outdoor activities. It is very important to spend quality physical time together, to share and learn together.
Here comes sport fishing as a hobby. Try this at home, it works!
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