History: A New San Diego Deckhand in 1985

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1985 was a big year in San Diego:

The 50th anniversary of H&M Landing.

Joe Dunn’s purchase and transformation of the Spirit of Adventure.

My first job on a San Diego boat.

That boat was the Tradition (currently the Horizon) out of H&M Landing.

As a teenager who had mainly worked/fished 1/2 day trips out of Long Beach and San Pedro, I was impressed by the size of the boat…and the size of the San Diego fleet!

I was hired to work a 3-day trip over Memorial Day weekend. Here’s how it went:

3 Day Trip – Memorial Day Weekend – 1985

Departure Day: We left the dock at 3pm with Robert Cooperstein at the helm and second captain Jack Slater. We made a stop at the Coronado Islands to make bait, then continued our way south at 11pm. The plan for the next day was to troll offshore to see if we might stumble across some early arriving albacore. Headed to the “double 220s,” an offshore high spot.

Day 1: Trolled for albacore from the double 220s towards Punta Colonet. No, we didn’t see any sign of the longfins but we did see a minke whale! Arrived at Colonet around 1pm. No yellowtail, only rockfish were biting. We pulled up just inside the point and anchored up for the night. I learned what it meant to be on anchor watch…and the responsibility of making sure we didn’t drag the anchor while everyone else onboard was asleep!

Day 2: Fished the outside high spots for a good bite on the rockfish, but still no yellows. We moved up the coast to Santo Tomas (just below Ensenada) and still no sign of forktails. Left Santo Tomas just after dinner at 9pm. Headed back up the line toward the Coronados. 3 meals a day with a full time chef. What a luxury, not just for the passengers but for the crew as well.

Day 3: Fished the Coronado Islands from sunup until 10:30am with no yellowtail. I’m guessing we had an assortment of bottom grabbers, but didn’t make a mention of what we caught in my logbook. We arrived back at the dock on Memorial Day at noon. Jackpot was a 12lb rockfish I wrote down as a warthog. Not sure of the official name.

My first REAL experience working in San Diego had wrapped up and I apparently made the cut. After my high school graduation that June, I worked on the Tradition for a few more trips.

By the end of June, I got on with the Spirit of Adventure during its inaugural season as a sportfishing boat. I also worked a few trips on the Fish-N-Fool that summer.

Yes, we finally did see some albacore and it turned out to be a pretty good year for catching the longfins. On a 3-day trip on the SOA run by none-other than Joe Dunn himself we had 300+ albies for only 18 anglers!

Click on image for a full sized view
Author Chris Dunn (right) at the end of an albacore trip on the Spirit of Adventure, 1985.

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