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THE GREAT OUTDOORS

This Cruise Has Different Angle on Sportfishing

Boating: Party is on for reeling in barracuda and bass off Dana Point and Newport Harbor.

June 26, 1996|MELANIE NEFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You just finished a rough day of work, the freeway is packed and another night of bad television is all that awaits you.

Why not get out of the rut? Pick up your rod, reel and a good friend and head down to Dana Point for an evening of sportfishing.

Nothing could be more relaxing. A quick 10-minute cruise out of the harbor and you are out in the ocean, surrounded by beautiful scenery, the setting sun and a group of anglers all looking forward to hooking the "big one." Once the sun goes down, anglers can enjoy the cool evening breezes as the moonlight sparkles on the water.

Beginners and experts alike board the open party boats at 5:30 p.m. and head out into the waters two miles off San Clemente in search of the "three Bs," barracuda, bonita and bass.

"This is great for people who work," said Mike Hansen, vice president of Dana Wharf Sportfishing. "It's really nice if you just want to get away for a while and it costs less than our day boats."

The "twilight special" is only one of the options available to anglers at Dana Wharf and Newport Harbor. Boats leave both harbors all day, from 6 in the morning to 6 at night.

For those unsure of their casting talents or squeamish at the thought of having to put a live anchovy on a hook; don't fear, the captain and his crew are ready to help out.

"We carry a lot of first-timers," Hansen said. "That shouldn't scare people away, because they think it is just a bunch of pros out here. At any time, 50% are first-timers or green novices."

The sport is also becoming more popular among women and children. Dana Wharf offers discounts for children and every Monday is Ladies' Day.

"I see more and more women every year," said Dick Machenesney, who has fished out of Dana Point and Newport Harbor for more than 30 years. "During the summers we see a lot of kids. These landings are good because if you

don't have experience, the deck hands are really good and very helpful. And there are never any problems."

Hansen, whose family moved the business to Dana Point when the harbor opened in 1970, expects this summer to be one of the best in recent years.

"[The fishing] has been really good. This is the way it is always supposed to be," Hansen said. "But the last few years we haven't had it this good.

"Tourism has picked up a lot this year too. We are seeing a lot more people from other countries. For a little while after the fires, floods, riots, it wasn't very good. But they are all starting to come back now."

Open party boats hold up to 60 people, although the average crowd is about 30. Reservations are recommended. Private charter boats are available for up to six people, but these are for the serious anglers with plenty of cash.

On the open party boats, a half-day of fishing, approximately five hours, for a family of four, will cost less than $100 out of Dana Wharf. Newport Harbor is a little more expensive. Rod rentals and fishing licenses are available at an extra charge.

"There are a lot of locals that use us," first mate Chris Tyler said. "People who don't want to spend the time or extra money going to San Diego. And the fishing is great. To really catch fish, you need to go on an open party boat. We have all new high-tech equipment that tells us exactly where the fish are."

Come dressed to get dirty and bring a jacket in case those ocean breezes become off-shore gusts. A hand towel is a good idea because trying to catch a live anchovy to use as bait can get a bit messy. And it isn't unheard of to get hit in the head by flying fish. OK, flying anchovies. Deck hands can get a little overzealous throwing out bait for the fish and one or two have been known to leave their mark. Wear a hat.

All in all, it's a great outing. Once you have bagged your fish, deck hands will filet your catch for 50 cents a fish and by the time the boat has docked, you are ready to go home and fry up your dinner.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Fresh Water Fishing Locations

* IRVINE LAKE

Where: 4621 Santiago Canyon Drive, Silverado

Hours: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Wednesday; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday-Sunday

Costs: Adults $12, children 4-12 $10

Information: (714) 649-2560

* LAGUNA NIGUEL LAKE

Where: 28241 La Paz

Hours: 6 a.m. to midnight, every day

Costs: Adults $10, children under 12 $8

Information: (714) 362-3885

* SANTA ANA RIVER LAKES

Where: 4060 E. La Palma, Anaheim

Hours: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Sunday; 6 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday.

Costs: Adults $12, children under 12 $10

Information: (714) 632-7851

Notes: Call location for fish available (catfish, trout or bass) during the season. Bait and tackle available, as well as guidance for novices. No fishing license required at any location. Boat rentals available at all lakes are $40 per day. Senior discounts available.

Fishing Anchors

Here's a look at Orange County locations where people wanting to fish can catch a boat for the day or part of the day.

* Dana Wharf Sportsfishing

34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point

Phone: (714) 496-5794

Prices: Full day $42, $32 for juniors 12 and under. Half-day boat is $32, $22 for juniors.

* Davey's Locker

400 Main Street, Balboa

Phone: (714) 673-1434

Prices: Full day $55, $40 for juniors 15 and under. Half-day price is $23, $14 for juniors.

* Newport Landing

309 Palm, Suite F., Balboa

Phone: (714) 675-0550

Prices: Three-fourths day $35, $25 for juniors 12 and under. Half-day price is $23, $15 for juniors.

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