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Ocean Sport Fishing – A Great Quality Time Family Hobby
The beauty of our world’s oceans is indescribable to most. Words like splendor and majesty can only touch the surface, experiencing ways to engage is the only time when we really appreciate its wonders. It is a complex realm of discovery that offers many opportunities to learn, and with that learning, the opportunity to share with others. No part of this earth can be seen more beautiful, but red, incredibly spacious and inspiring as the oceans. As a child he had been drawn to it like a magnet attracts iron. I still remember going to the beach for the first time. It became an adventure for me that day, and I have been looking for ways to enjoy it throughout my life.
My father had a gift for engaging his children’s interest in their hobbies. He enjoyed sport fishing of all kinds; ocean and freshwater fishing was his passion. Because he shared this with all of his children, we developed a strong bond, both with him and with the recreational hobby of sport fishing itself. From the age of six or seven until I became a young teenager, we enjoyed going fishing together many times.
We made special trips just to fish for species that feed best at night; when the temperature of the water was right, or the moon was in its proper phase, what he taught us. Finally, we have to go sport fishing in ocean water: when I was thirteen years old, I went on my first sea fishing trip with my father. This has become one of my passions in life, many of which were gifts of experience and learning through him.
My first ocean sport fishing trip came in the middle of the summer of 1967; my dad told me and my brother steven that he was taking us next saturday night. This is a Tuesday, we can not sleep at night for the rest of the week. Our heads were full of wonder about the possibilities, and ideas about what it would be like. We had been in small boats many times, but never a big boat like the sport fishing boats that dad had gone on with his friends. He has always brought back big fish: Albacore, Yellowtail, Rock Cod, Calico Bass, Barracuda, Ling Cod, you name it. We were very excited, and couldn’t wait for Saturday to come, we just knew that the big ties were still coming.
Saturday didn’t come too soon for us. We were to leave that night at 11:00 PM, for a full day trip to the Coronado Islands off the coast of Southern California. We headed towards the outer bank fishing area; there was an El Nino current, and large schools of Tuna came relatively close to the islands. Father was all smiles; you could see that he was proud to take us on this particular trip. Two of his friends also came, and they teased me and my brother endlessly about these fish whipping our asses and so on. That only made us more eager to continue. The idea of a fish fighting so hard excites us even more. Visions were plentiful on this day.
We drove to Pacific Landing in Long Beach, California after stopping to buy some special bait that Dad needed for us kids. Walking into the landing office was exciting in itself, the sights and smells were peachy and fun. The walls were covered with taxidermy trophies, one of a very large ‘Black Sea Bass’, he had a Cuban cigar in his mouth and excited us even more. The boats outside were 85′ to 110′ long, painted blue and white and looked like some sort of floating sky. We rented fishing rods and reels suitable for me and my brother. Dad helped us choose the right fishing gear and the necessary heads for the big fish. Finally, we got new gunny bags to hold our catch, and boarded the boat.
The boat left at 11:00 as scheduled. Me and my brother were in seventh heaven. There was no place on board that we did not find our way. The skipper dropped us off in the pilothouse, and we were amazed by the controls, the radar, the sonar fish finders, and the compass and radio system. Skip told us everything, and I remember everything like it was yesterday. Finally we went to the bunkroom and fell asleep restlessly. The sound of pounding on the bridge woke us up the next morning. People screamed loudly and from the sound, big fish hit the deck with their strong tails. It was like nothing we had ever heard before, but me and Steven knew it was jackpot time. We are excited about the upper deck and our fishing rods.
When we got on the deck it was 8:30 AM and a big fish was hitting the deck right in front of our eyes. The sailor, “Whitey” had just removed the gaff after pulling the fish out of the water for the angler who had caught it. It was a 12-16 Lb Yellowtail, and along the decks it looked like they were all connected. Poles were bent everywhere and smiles were on all faces, including ours. We moved as fast as possible to retrieve our poles, which had been rigged with 8″ Blue and White Apollo Jigs the night before. Jocko, a friend of my fathers saw us and called us to see him. He was laughing at us .and joking that we weren’t good fishermen if we didn’t get our line wet in a minute.
I had a great experience casting a conventional rig, and was really good at it. My brother Steve was not caught either, we drove out for some distance. The fish was literally boiling in the water. It could be seen that they break the surface, and just below the food of the chum that they had been thrown by the deckhands. I started retrieving my Jig immediately after hitting the water. I wanted to keep it on the surface, or just below, because the fish were there. About my third cast, I had a connection that doubled my rod. The line was coming off my reel so I adjusted my drag a little tighter. Yet the line continued and I didn’t know what to do. My father appeared just then and told me to squeeze the fish a little more and that the fish has its head. Meaning let it run for a minute. I did as ordered, stunned by the power I felt pulling on my rod. I had caught big fish before, but nothing like this.
As the fish ran, it changed direction several times. Once towards the boat, causing my line to go slack, and once towards the bow. I had been at it for about ten minutes, pulling in slack line as fast as I could, and walking alternately to the side of the gunnel rail while the fish took me for a walk. Dad encouraged me, Jocko and his friend Claude encouraged me and predicted that the fish would wipe my ass, all in fun. I was pretty tired, my arms were locked from holding the weight and tension for about 20 minutes already, but I could tell the fish was getting weaker and weaker. I got him where I could see him struggling, and he ran full steam ahead, twice right under the boat. Finally, I took him to the side of the boat where Whitey could gaff.
This was a “Bigeye Tuna,” he said, and it would go to about eighty pounds. I couldn’t believe how big it was when it was pulled onto the deck. It took Jocko and Whitey both to get him on board with two gaffs. hit the bridge, he thrashed hard with his tail for about a minute. Whitey hit him on the top of the head with a “Louisville Slugger”, only to go down. he congratulated me endlessly.Steven, my brother had caught two Yellowtail, average about 14-20 Lbs each, and had his Jig back in the water. We caught a lot of fish that day, but none as big as my Bigeye was. I didn’t get the Jackpot money because I never hit the Jackpot the night before. My Bigeye weighed 86 pounds 14 ounces, the biggest fish landed that day. Fill the tub from end to end, when we have. when he got home, his tail was sticking out of the end of the tub about eight inches, it sure was big.
We fished all that morning and early evening. I caught a bag full of Yellowtail and Albacore, and a few Barracuda to boot. They seem to run in packs together. It was a great first trip. My father knew we were going to catch fish, that’s why he took us. He later explained that he hadn’t caught us before because he didn’t think we could land even big fish. Well of course I said I was ready before this trip. He just laughed at me and rubbed my swollen head.
It’s times like these that children remember forever. Their times so that they create a bond with nature and parents. I will never forget a minute of this trip. It happened several years ago, and was followed by several solo trips, trips with my friend John Hogan, and my sister Charlene. After this trip, my father would later give me twenty bucks so I could catch the fishing boats by myself, 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 really important to spend physical time together in a quality way, sharing and learning together.
Here is sport fishing as a hobby. Try this at home, it works!
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