The Season of Adventure Begins

by Dan Simmons

(Pictured above: Laura Oslund’s first ocean fish)

As the weather warms my thoughts turn to sandy beaches, crashing waves and fishing. It’s time to plan my annual San Diego deep sea fishing charter and visit my friends at H&M Landing.

Previous years adventures have always begun with this event and it’s always been exciting, with a few trips being exceptional for me and my friends. Some of these memorable trips can create a menu of possibilities for this year. Feel free to follow our “trail”, or more correctly our “wake.”

There are half-day, full-day and multiple-day adventures. Let’s start with a half day in-shore fishing trip with Laura Osland, a friend and coworker, who wanted to catch her first ocean fish.

We decided to take one of the half-day boats to the Point Loma kelp beds on this first trip and try for a variety of fish. They had been catching Bonito, Sheephead, Ling Cod, White Sea Bass, and even the odd Yellow Tail Tuna. This sounded just about right. It didn’t take her long to get started. Her first bait didn’t reach the bottom when the skipper, Tim Green, interrupted as I was getting her a bagel with cream cheese, and my first cup of coffee, shouting, “Blondie has a fish!” Then the tug of war began. She had the rod pointed at the water’s surface, as if to spear the fish if it appeared. I’m not sure if she, or the fish, had the advantage.

With the help of Tim she managed to adjust the reel’s drag and bring the rod tip up to a proper position. She then fought the fish like an old pro, and as it surfaced she was excited to see that a tuna had been hooked. Not wanting to wait for the gaff, and the possibility it would throw the hook, she heaved it up and over the side, bounced it off the boat’s cabin, hitting one of her fellow anglers in the chest – no harm done. She had her first ocean fish.

Following that there were a couple more hits and, as often happens, a few crossed or tangled lines – not a problem, I was there to help. She was new to the game and is now a deep saltwater fishing fanatic.

If you’re looking for action with bigger fish take one of the full day or even better a day and half trips to Mexico’s Coronado Island, just a short distance from San Diego or to one of the outer Pacific banks.

On a recent one day trip my friend Jeff Miller and a few friends boarded at sun-up and enjoyed the cruise south to the Coronado Islands. As the boat reached its fishing position off the Islands and the Captain dropped anchor he said those welcome words “Drop your lines” as he threw out great quantities of live anchovies, as chum, in all directions.

Jeff Miller

The action was then fast and furious with multiple “hook-ups.” Jeff felt a strong strike on his line and the fish immediately took off in a fast run as the line screamed off the reel throwing a fine cool, wet spray covering his glasses and face. He knew it was a big one as it dove deep to the bottom, but soon line was able to be recovered as his arms and back reminded him that a bit more physical preparation was needed before he left home. Working out before the trip and being tough are appropriate for these monsters.

By applying just the right amount of drag the fish was stopped and they were able to gain line, sometimes bringing the fish close enough to the boat, and ready to gaff. But, like all living things, some act differently, are stronger, have a greater will to escape and survive. These are the fish you remember most – the trophies. They will come near the boat and make run after unstoppable run, often “breaking off.” If you have the skill, and are lucky, they come to gaff with both you and the fish exhausted – that’s fishin’.

As it was brought aboard Jeff’s heart rate slowed a bit and he admired this twenty pound Yellowtail. The crew has this down to a science and all he had to do was regain his breath, relax and let the adrenalin subside sufficiently to get fresh bait back into the water. The action is fast, exhilarating and addictive with the anticipation of the next strike always there.

At the end of the day they arrived back at the dock with Dorado, Yellow Tail Tuna and even a prize Blue Finn Tuna. The fish were cleaned and packed. All were comfortably tired and headed for dinner followed by a good night’s sleep at a nearby hotel. It was a good day.

Those are great trips, but if you’re looking for the ultimate group fishing adventure, it’s the multi-day trip on one of the bigger long range boats. You will head south following the Blue Finn Tuna Migrations.

Drew Calvert

Drew Calvert, the fishing professor, on a long-range trip to Baja waters, out of San Diego, found the action was fierce with many hundred pounders coming over the rail. These weren’t shy fish, but swam in a large school, and believe me, they were the teachers. A big “cow” would hit like a freight train and either head straight for Hawaii or dive to depths which would challenge the length of line on your two-speed Schimano, Okuma or Fin-Nor #50 salt water reel. At other times they would circle the boat as if they knew by tangling with others they could cut the line and break away. Big tuna fishing is not for the faint of heart, but with the exception of bill fish like marlin and sails there are few things that get the adrenalin flowing as quickly.

For those satisfied with a bit less adventure, and with perhaps shallower pocketbooks as well, the yellow tail, yellow fin and albacore tuna offer more than abundant thrills. With limits of 20, 30 and 40 pounders coming in regularly, the boats of less extreme range offer, if not the trip of a lifetime, at least the trip of the year.

These fish are more abundant and the action is non-stop when a school is found. It’s not unusual to bring in several in a relatively short period of time. You’ll not come away unscathed, however, as your arms will feel as if each also weighs 40 pounds and your back and shoulder muscles will scream at you as if to say, “I didn’t sign up for this; I want to go home and back to the couch and television.” At least that’s what mine says.

So, it’s time to plan as the boats fill fast when the action is hot. My favorite is San Diego and the opportunity to catch some of the warm water fish such as albacore, barracuda, or one of the least appreciated, but one of my all time favorites – the scrappy mackerel. All of which, when caught on light line, give you the same sensation as their big cousins; the Yellow Fin tuna or Dorado.

It’s an exciting thrill to hear the line “sizzling off” the reel as the fish makes its first run or heads for the bottom. The raucous activity of your fellow fishermen, as they also hook-up and the taste of the salt air is also part of the experience. As good as this experience is, watching your son, daughter or friend get excited over their first fish is even better.

To get the latest tuna fishing report, give H & M Landing a call at (619) 222-1144 or go to


“Blondie’s Premier Tuna”

Blondie dedicated this recipe to Tim Green skipper of the Premier . It’s one of Ol’ Seldom’s new favorites, he just has trouble choosing between the tequila, rum or vodka, so he adds all three and has a taste of each as he cooks; I wouldn’t advise this. Blondie’s use of tequila is excellent, but spiced rum is also good. Grilled or broiled, this is one of my new favorites too, and it tastes a lot better than sea lion.


  • Six 8-oz tuna steaks;
  • ¼ cup tequila, rum or vodka;
  • ¼ cup lime juice;
  • 2 tsp brown sugar;
  • 1 tsp salt;
  • 1 tsp black pepper;
  • ¼ cup olive oil;
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced;
  • 2 shallots, mined;
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger;
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro;


  • Combine tequila or other liquor, lime juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper, stir until sugar and salt are dissolved;
  • add olive oil, garlic, shallots, ginger and cilantro;
  • place tuna steaks in marinade and refrigerate for at least two hours;
  • remove tuna from marinade and grill over medium heat for 3 minutes per side;
  • serve with lime wedges, cilantro rice and your favorite beverage

“The Season of Adventure Begins” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times