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Sportfishing landings

Adventures from San Diego Bay to the deep blue sea:

Catching fish and watching whales

Some of the vessels in the America's Cup Harbor sportfishing fleet. Photo by Dale Frost/Port of San Diego.

America’s Cup Harbor gets extra busy during the summer as boats head to the open sea for fishing or whale watching expeditions. San Diego enjoys access to some of the most exciting saltwater sportfishing anywhere in the world, and the sportfishing fleet in Point Loma near Shelter Island is well-suited to meet the demand.

The yellowtail and bluefin tuna are biting! This season, schools of tuna and yellowtail are moving in along our coast in large numbers. The tuna fishing in early August was the best it has been in years, with many anglers catching 50-pound fish.

Residents and visitors can choose a half-day fishing trip a few miles out to sea to catch yellowtail, multi-day trips to catch offshore tuna, and two-week long range fishing expeditions beyond the tip of Baja California, where tuna in excess of 300 pounds are caught.

“People from all over the world come here to fish,” said Paul Morris, general manager at Fisherman’s Landing.

Fishing is not the only option. For the last four or five years, six-hour whalewatching trips during the summer have increased in popularity as residents and visitors look for blue whales, which are the largest creatures on Earth and can be more than 90 feet long, or finback whales, the second largest whale. The whales, known for both their size and relaxed temperament, seem to thrive in our Southern California ocean — more than a thousand were sighted in 2010.

Whether one wants to fish or look for giant ocean mammals, the sportfishing fleet’s first class accommodations are touted as the world’s largest and most modern.

“The redevelopment of the sportfishing landings was an integral part of the revitalization of America’s Cup Harbor,” said Kristine Zortman, senior asset manager in the Port of San Diego’s Real Estate Department.

The three sportfishing businesses — Fisherman’s Landing, H&M Landing and Point Loma Sportfishing — completed a $3.5 million redevelopment of the sportfishing segment of America’s Cup Harbor in 2010.

The H&M Landing and Point Loma Sportfishing buildings are at their original location. H&M Landing is located at 2803 Emerson Street, and Point Loma Sportfishing is at 1403 Scott Street.

The new Fisherman’s Landing, at 2838 Garrison Street, was built slightly north of the original building to make room for a large public plaza and improved access to the waterfront promenade that affords views of the sportfishing fleet and downtown San Diego. The old buildings were demolished.

The project included enhancing the public area that connects the three businesses with a new, widened public promenade and a public artwork.

The total cost for the redevelopment was $3.5 million. Under the port’s tenant percent-for-art policy, port tenants are required to allocate one percent of the total project cost toward artwork.

Today, a sculpture titled “Sportfishing Legacy” graces the plaza and pays tribute to the San Diego sportfishing industry.

The artwork features a bronze bust of the late Bill Poole, a captain, businessman and boat designer who built up the sportfishing business in San Diego and designed many of the sportfishing boats that still carry fishermen out to the Pacific.

The bronze bust is portrayed at the top of a rocky seamount. Suspended around the seamount are metal silhouettes of tuna and yellowtail. Curved acrylic panels etched with the names of many of the area’s sportfishing vessels and popular fishing destinations are also included in the artwork.

It was created by Bill Watts, an artist and architect, and Craig Hill, a former display curator for SeaWorld.

"The tenant artwork not only enhances the area, but commemorates the leadership of Bill Poole and the many sportfishing vessel captains who have championed this business for decades,” said Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Lou Smith at the April 2012 sculpture dedication ceremony.

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