Great fishing for an awesome cause

By: Sergio Fainsztein

We received a request to join and cover the OCFA “Jimmy O” Classic, a memorial charter celebrating the life of firefighter and fallen hero, Jimmy Owens. The charter was aboard the Dana Pride out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. fishing adventure for family, friends, and firefighters who knew Jimmy. This was the fourth annual event and nobody expected to have such awesome fishing!

The Dana Pride was chosen because Jimmy, on his time off from the fire station, would volunteer his time on this boat. He was a dear friend to Capt. Tom White and the entire crew. Jimmy’s joy was in helping others catch fish and being a deckhand on the Dana Pride. He brought happiness to all the lives he touched during his time on earth. Unfortunately, at the young age of 54, he collapsed and passed while on the line of duty. But his legacy and love for the sea and fishing lives on through these charters.

We embarked on our adventure promptly at 8 a.m. and headed off to the fishing grounds. Capt. Tom wanted to try some local kelp beds for calico bass but first, go offshore in search of kelp paddies for a shot at yellowtail, dorado, and even tuna. Upon arrival, we fished some of those areas without success. There were several smaller crafts near us but the fish were not there. We made a short move, metered some fish, and gave it a try. Suddenly, from the bow, we heard “hook-up!” and we had our first fish on the line. One of the firefighters had hooked a yellowfin tuna. He fought the fish for a while and brought it close to the boat. At that point, he handed the rod and reel to a little boy who finished the fight yelling “color” and the deckhand gaffed the tuna and brought it onboard. The smile on this young boy was priceless.

We continued to fish this spot for another hour or so, without success. Capt. Tom then made the announcement that we were heading back to the coast to fish the kelp beds, however, he wanted to stop at a reef on the way. He told us that yellowtail, calico bass, sand bass, sculpin, and halibut could be found on this spot. He was right!

The fishing started slow at this new spot off San Onofre. The first fish caught were mostly calico bass and sand bass. As we stayed on that reef, the deckhand on the bait tank began to chum the waters, and the fish came out to play. Off the stern we witnessed several “boils” of yellowtails eating the sardines offered in the chum. Once again we heard the words: “hook-up” and we were on the fish. Two large Yellowtails, in the 25-pound class were hooked and boated. As the time went on, more and more fish begun to bite. The quality of these fish was outstanding as all the yellowtails were weighed in at 25 to 30 pounds. We boated several of these beautiful specimens while many others were lost. During this bite, many anglers were also catching both calico Bass and sand bass.

We were running out of time for the day and as the captain announced it was time to head back for homeport, another “hook-up” was heard. This time the bite had been on the bottom, not on the surface as had been the case for all the yellowtail. The rod was bent and the angler was reeling in a big fish. We all gathered around him, waiting to see what was on that hook. We cheered when we saw the silhouette of the fish appear a few inches below the surface. There it was, a big halibut that weighed more than  32 pounds!

The trip was a huge success and Angler Chronicles was able to get great footage of the day’s event and will be the feature of a new episode for Fox Sports West in the coming weeks. We are sure that Jimmy is looking down at us and still smiling on the epic fishing adventure had by all who attended. There is a true brotherhood in these men who serve our communities and Angler Chronicles salutes and thanks them for their courage and servitude. Jimmy, this one’s for you!

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