The Point Loma Rotary Club's annual Veterans Fishing Day hit the water again for an offshore fishing experience for local veterans.
POINT LOMA— The dorados were biting on Oct. 6 for Veterans Fishing Day, an annual event put on by the Point Loma Rotary Club started in 2018. Captain William Wilkerson (Capt. Bill) and his crew took about 25 local veterans from Veteran’s Village of San Diego 30 miles off the coast of San Diego aboard the Malihini to go deep-sea fishing.
Veteran’s Fishing Day is the brainchild of Alan Brown and Carter Shuffler, two Point Loma Rotary Club members, who started the annual event with the support of sponsors in 2018.
Vets arrived at H&M Landing in San Diego at 6 a.m. and had a quick snack before boarding the Malihini around 6:30 a.m. and heading out to collect live bait.
After Malihini’s deckhand Peyton Freeman briefly discussed the bait tank, the technique that goes into using sardines as live bait, and the process that will be executed when fish are found and start biting, the group was off searching kelp patty after kelp patty for the perfect catch.
The veterans were a collection of amateur and skilled fishermen, some having never touched a rod or fished offshore and some who feel most at home on the water with a rod. However, the deck started rocking when the Malihini found a school of dorados under the perfect kelp patty.
“Fish on hook!” “Follow your line!” and “Gaff!” were yelled for a solid hour as vets chased their bites around the stern and the bow for an exciting and high-intensity biting frenzy. Even Capt. Bill was too excited not to participate. Left and right vets were reeling in dorados to the point where you didn’t know where to step because the fish were everywhere. The vets fished until the bag limit was hit, and everyone had a smile on their faces as they unwound from their fishing victory.
“That was just awesome,” said Veteran Rafael Uno. “It was such a great feeling. Really cool.”
The Malihini moved on once the boat was well stocked with dorados and went on searching for an alleged bluefin nearby. Unfortunately, the bluefin was never found, but pods of porpoises chased the vessel, and even a whale was spotted in the distance as the trip headed home.
“I laid out all the fish!” said Freeman. “You have five minutes to take a photo with your fish, and then I will filet and bag the fish for you.”
After Freeman laid out the dorados, the vets swarmed their loot and posed for photos. Vets discussed how they would prepare their fish while Freeman and his teammate filleted and bagged all the dorados on board for them to take home.
“We just want to thank you for all that you do and all that you’ve done for us, and we hope that you had a great day today,” said Shuffler at the end of the day when all were back at H&M Lading.
The cost of the Veteran’s Fishing Day is entirely covered by the Point Loma Rotary Club, including unlimited food and drink onboard and the fish cleaning and filet service. In addition, California Fish and Wildlife allowed for a “free” no-license day for the vets.
Capt. Bill has been in the sportfishing business for over 36 years and has had his Captain’s License for over 30. Wilkerson first fell in love with fishing when he was eight years old, and his grandmother would take him to Venice Beach to fish. It was on one of those trips when he saw a boat unloading a group of people. When he asked his grandmother what was going on, she knew the captain of that charter vessel, and from there, Wilkerson was cleaning decks in exchange for fishing trips.
The Malihini is a PT-657, a retired motor torpedo boat built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She lives in her original condition as she is unrestored and still has her original interior as well. Malihini is the Hawaiian word for “a newcomer” or “stranger.”
For more information on the Point Loma Rotary Club, please visit https://pointlomarotary.org/ and to learn more about Malihini Sportfishing and their charter packages, please visit https://malihinisportfishing.com/ or call (844) 619-3474.