This post falls into the category of saying yes to things I normally probably wouldn't do. Recently I spent a day with my little family sport fishing off the cost of San Diego. It sounded like a fun adventure and something I probably wouldn't seek out doing. But when I had a chance to go with a group, I said yes.
First I have to say thank you to the owners and crew of the Commander, our vessel for the day. They were so nice, always ready to help and thanks to them I never had to bait my own line. I baited my own line for a while when I was a kid, but I find it completely unnecessary now when there's kindly help around, whether it's a squirming worm or six-inch live sardines. Thank you guys for doing my dirty work.
They were so awesome to help when hooks got caught on kelp, the fishing line got tangled up on the rod and they even cast my line for me quite a few times - which I could perfectly well do myself -- but they offered and I said yes. I also have to thank the San Diego Anglers for putting the trip together. They were so kind to provide lunch and snacks and so much additional help with rods and reels. A great group of people.
The first interesting fact I learned about sport fishing is how important high quality bait is. The captain of the boat actually goes out and nets his own bait out of the bait tanks to make sure the quality is good. Bad bait means bad fishing and when your business is helping guests catch fish, your daily catch report and reputation is critical. That was so interesting to me.
Once we got out on the open water it was pretty rough seas. I said the waves were big but my husband taught me we were in a "swell." Lots to learn at sea! There were a few people who got quite seasick on our trip. Thankfully we'd taken our smotion sickness pills and even though we got a bit queasy here and there we did great. I am so glad about that. Seasick and stuck on a boat for an entire day is no fun.
It makes sense now that I've learned some things, but sport fishing happens around kelp beds because that's where all the fish hang out. It makes for losing a lot of hooks and bait when your line gets stuck. But those are easily enough replaced and soon your line is back in the water fishing again.
Once we got to our fishing spot everyone charged towards the fishing rods so I decided it was a great time to sit on the upper deck, eat my lunch, just relax and have some peace and quiet. Heavenly. After a while I joined The Bug and helped her fish with her own pole. She did well but lost several good bites off the end of her line.
There were harbor seals, sea lions and plenty of birds circling our boat and stealing bait all day. Sometimes the birds get hooked on the fishing lines while being a little greedy for free lunch. They would have to be reeled in, have the hook removed, and then the crew would release them back. The Man caught two fish that were just a little too small to keep and had to be released. Then he caught a bird.
After a while The Bug got tired of her lack of success and I inherited her rod and reel. So I decided to fish on my own. Losing bait and bites, the day was coming to a close and I really wanted to put up the rod and reel and just relax for a while.
Quite a few people had caught fish by this point. There was very little lull in the fish catching all day in fact. Some had put up their polls and were napping below in bunks or on deck in the sun.
After The Man had purchased a small portable cooler & two big bags of ice it seemed a shame to let it go home empty. After several of hours of fishing and a lot of bites none of us had netted a fish we could keep. So I decided to continue trying for a little bit longer.
Minutes later my line was again caught up in the kelp and the captain had come to kindly help me get untangled. I wasn't paying too close attention when suddenly he thrust the pole into my hands and said "Reel! Fast!" I took the pole and started reeling just in time to see a yellow fin tuna on the end of the line. In seconds the captain was grabbing the fish on the end of my line and we were in business!
We had our fish and it was one of the biggest caught that day. They tagged it lucky number 13 and in not too long we were on our way back to the harbor.
While we were sailing back to the docks the crew cleaned fish to each owners specific requests. We went with fillets and went home with two big fillets on ice.
For Sunday dinner last weekend we cooked up the fillets for my sister and The Man. I am not a fish eater so it was great to have guests who would enjoy and help eat up my catch.
I took one bite just so I could say I tasted my first ocean catch. Initially the taste wasn't too bad, but I will confess I hated it and had to go eat a cracker to get the taste out of my mouth immediately. Thankfully it was not a super smelly fish. I'm just not a fish eater. The Man constantly questions how I can be half Polynesian and hate fish. The absurdity of it is not lost on him at all.
We were exhausted by the time we went home. We all fell onto our beds about 5:30 p.m. thinking we'd take a short nap and then get up and get dinner. We all crashed. I woke up sometime around 11 p.m. and when I realized we were all down for the night I just went back to bed. We all slept 13-14 hours that night.
I will attribute some of that to exhaustion from a big, long day at sea, but The Man and I have a sneaky suspicion that it was the seasick pills that really knocked us for a loop. They were supposed to be non-drowsy but in the end we think they really knocked us out. The Man and I both took two pills since we're relatively tall folks. The recommendation was 1-2 pills. We both took 2. Won't do that again.
As for any ill effects of being at sea, I didn't feel any wobbly sea legs at all until the day after. When I went to bed that second night and the third night I immediately felt like the room was rocking quite a bit as soon as I was horizontal in bed. That was a little freaky, but thankfully I was so tired I fell asleep soon both nights.
My first experience sport fishing included rough seas and a long day in the hot sun. But I had a good time and I would do it again for sure. Now that I've done it once I think I know some tricks that would help me haul in a few more fish next time and make the trip even more pleasant in every way. It's good to try new things and I was really glad I tried sport fishing.
All images by kalanicut