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A typical day on a San Diego sportboat

I thought I'd give some of our reader an idea of what to expect on their first time out on a San Diego sportboat. In this case I will use my favorite trip as an example, the half-day open party sportfishing trip.

Your day starts out at the landing office ticket office where you either buy your ticket on the spot or preferrably check in for the reservation you made previously over the phone. If you are renting equipment the landing will tell you where to go to get it. Next head down to the boat and usually there will be people gathered, talking story and setting up. Some like myself wait to setup until the boat is underway. Gives me something to do I guess. Another reason is if you can thread the line through the eyes on rolling seas while the boat is underway then by all means it should be all the more quicker and easier when sitting still on flat ground. I like the challenege.

After the boat leaves the dock the captain usually gets on the com and explains safety rules, coast guard required messages about drugs and alchohol (a definite no so don't even think about bringing anything onboard except any prescriptions), then the fun stuff begins. Next is a deckhand will yell for everyone to check in in the galley usually to sign the manifest, pucrchase a gunny sack and pitch in to the jackpot if you are which I highly recommend. By now the boat is underway en route to the fishing grounds. The captain again will usually get on the com and tell where we are fishing for that day and how to rig. Things like that and what the morning trip saw if it's an afternnon half day ride. My adivice....LISTEN TO EVERY WORD THE CAPTAIN AND CREW HAS TO SAY ABOUT WHAT"S BEEN BITING AND HOW TO RIG UP. These guys are out daily and know better than anyone onboard I guarantee it.

If you aren't familiar how to rig up then no worries because most times the crew will have a small seminar at the stern while under way to explain rigging or answer any questions. The question not asked is the dumbest question. Ask anything. Half day trips can be an incredible learning experience for longer trips and even long range tuna trips some day. 30 + years later out countless times a year I'm still picking up some great tips and ultimately this is what this website is about. What I try to teach and help others with on this site is what I have learned form fishing and working boats here since my dad took me at age 5 the first trip on the Malihini. You can learn a ton by watching others more expereicned and the crew.

By now the boat has reached the grounds and the captain now usually gets on the mic to not drop a bait until the boat has settled on the anchor if that is the type fishing being done. If the boat is crowded most captains will run a stern rotation by the number you signed on the manifest which by the way is also your galley number for buying food and drink and for yuor bag number for when you catch fish you tell the deckhand and he or she will sack your fish if it's a legal.

About the galley, on most boats you will just run a tab on your number that you signed on the manifest at departure. The deckhand will give you a ticket with your number on it so no worries about forgetting. At the end of the trip some time on the way in galley tabs are collected and feel free to tip standard or even better if you had a great time and had good service. Up to you but tips are a crews bread and butter so please consider a tip for good service. The hours are long and hard and tips are well deserved by most.

The bait you will use is anchovie, sardine and/or squid. When you are ready to fish and the boat is settled on the anchor the captain says go and it's on. This is where the name party boat comes in in my opinion because on a full boat it can be nuts. First and formost on a local half or 3/4 day trip leave your rod at the rail and WALK to the bait tank and find the best and liveliest bait you can see. You will know because it will be the hardest bait to catch. Don't pick a bait with bloody eyes are slow. Hands down you will get bit more on a livley and healthy bait.

Next bait your hook and if you are rigged up for the bottom then with your thumb on the spool and even pressure let the bait drop over the side and go til your line slacks which should tell you that is the bottom.

If fishing the surface then let your bait swim freely on freespool and ost important on any open party trip or any trip at that when sportfishing with others is to keep you bait in front of you. The big phrase you will here is "no angles, no tangles" meaning your line and bait should be straight out in front of you at all times. If it isn't then follow your bait (and fish) down the rail and ask people to let you bye and be ready to pass under or your pole over the fisherman next to you as to not create any tangles.

Lots to absorb here and lots more to tell. To be continued....


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