Story by Cheyenne Cyr – Photography by Christopher Malaga-Lopez

The salty air, the scent of the freshly-caught fish, and the sound of the ocean waves set the stage for an exciting day. When the Sea Trek arrived, there were two fishermen just itching to brag about their loot.

Ken Corwin, owner of Ken’s Custom Reel, and Gilbert “JJ” Fin, a local fisherman enthusiastically greet people on the dock. Nearby, a huge neon sign bore the name of the shop. It looked like a bar, but with fishing gear instead of drinks.

One of the biggest reasons people fish is because it actually contributes to helping the planet. “You fish and catch a bunch every day, it’s overall impact on the ecosystem is nothing. Using the rods and reels and all that is also totally resource – friendly, because they last forever,” Corwin said.

Corwin says they normally fish tuna and yellow tail for the thrill of it.

San Diego County is home to one of the biggest sport fishing communities in the world, Fin says. But why is it so huge here, of all places, and what contributes to it? “It’s a passion, but it’s also a massive industry. With all the landings, the personal boats, how many people around here like to fish, plus San Diego being the only place you can go on trips with live bait,” Corwin said.

Ken Corwin, owner of Ken's Custom Reel.

Ken Corwin in his shop on Oct. 9, 2019. He has been in the business for a while and is an avid fishermen himself. (Christopher Malaga-Lopez/Impact)

San Diego has such a warm climate that more fish are likely to be found, regardless of the season. The Pacific Ocean has lots of biodiversity in how many different fish it contains. With the stable waters and steady tidal schedule, it’s a great place to take your boat out and relax in the middle of nowhere, the men say.

The region is also popular for the sport because there are plenty of piers in the area, meaning less places to worry about licenses. You do have to be over 16 to get a fishing license, but out on a pier you don’t need any of that. It’s just wholesome hobbyist fun.

Some people go fishing to catch themselves their next dinner. Fish are low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein. Not to mention the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment you’ll get upon catching it yourself as opposed to just walking into a store to find it.

“It’s not very often that I go out to fish and not eat anything,” Fin said.

Most importantly, people fish because it’s entertaining and fun. It’s a hobby for fishers more than anything else to go out and practice the sport of kings.

One of the most popular fish in all of San Diego to try and catch is the Bluefin tuna, because they’re such a big and strong animal that definitely won’t give up without a fight. Their massive size and power makes them a highly sought-after species, so fishers can brag about catching a fish that was almost as big as they are tall.

Of course, another reason Bluefins are so valuable is because they are edible. They actually have a high nutrition value and savory flavor, that the same fish is also sought-after for sushi as much as for bragging rights. The world record for the largest ever caught was a whopping 1,496 pounds.

Fishing as a hobby has quickly evolved into a sport, but the terms can be interchangeable. Some people refer to sport fishing as a hobby rather than a competitive event, and some take fishing seriously as if it were a major sport.

Neon sign reading "Ken's Custom Reel, Service & Repair."

A neon sign at Ken’s Custom Reel, owned by Ken Corwin, on Oct. 9, 2019. (Christopher Malaga-Lopez/Impact)

Another reason people fish is because it’s good for your health. The adrenaline from reeling in a catch can increase your heart rate, as well as decrease your stress levels overall, according to fishing experts. Just walking to and from your ideal spot is good exercise for your body and brain, and the actual catch can work wonders for your balance. Across the United States, a total of 11.6 million youths went fishing in 2017. On a timeline graph from 2006 to 2017, the average numbers were around 10-11 million people.

So now what? There are great reasons to go fishing, and cool fish to catch, but where does one go to do it?

One of the more popular spots to fish is the Oceanside Pier. Since it’s a pier, fishing doesn’t require any licenses. This makes them good hangout spots for entry-levels and pros alike to practice their craft and have a good time.

One of the more well-known spots is the H&M Landing Dock, just a few minutes away from the San Diego International Airport. The dock has 28 boats ranging from 45 to 105 feet in size. Another popular landing is Seaforth Landing, just a little ways away from Sea World. Seaforth has 17 boats, with a size range of 38 to 85 feet.

Point Loma Sportfishing, Fisherman’s Landing, and Helgren’s Sportfishing are also all popular spots to fish, all with their own multi-day trip plans.