Bluefin Tuna, the new prized catch in Southern California. These fish have caused the Southern California Fishery to explode over the past 6-7 years. The term most relatable to these fish – “Bluefin or Bust”
Bluefin tuna fishing in Southern California is an exhilarating and highly enjoyable experience when the fish are schooled up and eager to eat. Scattered schools and lock jaw fish will keep you on your toes but break your heart. Many anglers know the feeling of a wide open bluefin bite. One you hook one, the battle begins. Anglers engage in a thrilling test of strength and skill, as these mighty creatures put up a remarkable fight. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, the sheer excitement of reeling in a bluefin tuna, known for their impressive size and speed, is an unforgettable experience.
BD Outdoors hopped on the Apollo for their first trip out of San Diego in 2023 to kick off the Summer season. This 2.5-day trip was a humbling experience, reminding us that bluefin can be tough to track down and put on deck. Thanks to a hard-working crew and a boat full of passionate anglers, we managed to put quality and quantity on deck. This trip was a perfect display of why angler should book multi-day trips if they want to get a chance at trophy style bluefin tuna. Big thanks to JYG PRO Fishing for flying out from Florida, suppling jigs to every angler, and being the presenting sponsor for this edition of the On Deck Series, On Deck With The Apollo Part II.
The Apollo is a special boat compared to most sport fishers in the fleet. The galley feels more like a long-range boat, with a large custom Apollo Galley stainless steel backing and trash bins conveniently built into the benches in between the middle section of seats. The heads are inside, contrary to many boats that have heads up the rail, midship or on either side of the wheelhouse. This makes it easy for passengers to move from the bunk room to use the restroom or showers, without having to fully walk on the deck and/or up the rails. The bunk room is spacious and chilled. The top tier air conditioning pumps all day long, preventing anglers from feeling moist or uncomfortable. The most unique aspect of the bunk room is the state rooms. Most anglers stay in the main bunks, but the few anglers willing to pay a little extra can secure a state room for their group. When it comes to fishing, the deck space between the rail and the house allows anglers to move around the boat without bumping into each other or get hooked by jigs in the rod holders. The boat has a bait tank and slammer on the stern, and a bow bait tank used for longer trips. Overall, The Apollo is a weapon. When you fish this boat, you get the perfect combination of fishing, eating and sleeping comfort.
The combination of experience and personality among the crew separates The Apollo from other boats in the fleet. This crew knows how to fish, and they know how to make a trip fun. They are driven and dialed from the deck, through the galley, and into the wheelhouse.
Captain Jeff Jessop is a Southern California local with deep roots in the sportfishing industry. He has been a captain on various sportfishing boats in SoCal for the past two decades. He currently runs The Apollo as well as The Amigo. Captain Jeff is great at putting the boat on big bluefin and is not afraid to push the boat hard to find the meat. He is a calm, collected captain with a talent for finding, hooking and landing fish.
Ryan is entering his third season on the Apollo, but his 15th year as a sportboat captain. He runs the boat part time and spends the other time night driving. On this specific trip, Captain Ryan was at the helm and worked extremely hard to find fish. His communication skills with passengers and crew is something that you rarely see on sportboats. He keeps everyone aware of how the fleet is doing, so every angler knows what to expect. He is honest when fishing is slow and hyped when fishing lights up. If you ever have an opportunity to fish with Ryan on The Apollo, we highly recommend jumping onboard!
Captain John came down from Northern California to work on The Apollo for the San Diego season. He has been a captain for decades, running charter boats and sport boats out of various places in California. In Northern California, he owns a charter boat and a whale watch boat. Don’t be confused with Captain John’s NorCal roots, he is a knowledgeable tuna fisherman and has caught every other species that exists in Southern California. John loves to chat and share stories, he brings great energy and experience to The Apollo crew.
Captain Jay has been with the Apollo for eight years. He is a wizard in the engine room and works hard to find and land fish for every angler. Under old ownership, the boat would spend the winters in Puerta Vallarta, Jay would go down with the boat and spend his winters in PV. His passion for the ocean drives him to excel as a deckhand and a fisherman. Originally from Puerta Vallarta, Jay loves living life with the Apollo, moving around Southern California as the seasons change.
Roger is a young deckhand with plenty of experience in the sportboat industry. Throughout high school, he worked on different boats in SoCal so he could remain on the water doing something he loves. Roger runs on stoke, he is always happy to help anglers and excited to catch fish. He is entering his freshman year at Baylor University but will remain working on deck aboard The Apollo for summers to come.
Jonah Lilly is a Southern California local and lifelong fisherman. He is in his third season on deck, “living the dream”. Jonah adds to the crew’s energy with a highly stoked mentality, always ready to work and put in the time it takes to land fish.
Dominick Duprey has been fishing his whole life, yet this is his first season aboard the Apollo. His well-rounded skill set allows him to mesh with the crew and passengers with ease. Along with fishing, Dominick is in school in pursuit of becoming a firefighter.
Cooper Emery is 20 years old, from Manhattan Beach, CA. His love for the outdoors led him to the fishing industry as a way to make a living by escaping the city. Cooper is energetic and upbeat, he treats all passengers with respect, and he does a great job at boosting group morale with jokes when fishing gets slow. Keep an eye out for Cooper as his fishing career as a deckhand will likely lead him to a captains license in the coming years.
Richie has been cooking on boats in the sportboat fleet for a decade. His cooking is extravagant. Richie is not serving burritos and boat burgers; he is serving meals that you would expect to see at a nice restaurant in the city. His ability to make homemade bread to pair with every meal separates The Apollo from the fleet when it comes to food, there is no sign of hunger on deck when Richie is in the galley! He is calm, funny, and loves to blast epic music while cooking up for all the anglers and crew.
Lori Mueller controls everything behind the scenes for the Apollo operation. Her background in the fishing industry is deep, she has connections all over California. Her father was a sportboat captain, and she has been fishing her whole life. She is always stoked to fish! Lori is pushing for growth in the industry by teaching her children and their peers how to respect the ocean and become great anglers. Keep an eye out for the various charters hosted by her and her son Chance!
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OFFSHORE
Fishing on a 2.5 day trip opens the window of opportunity much more than full days, overnights, 1.5 and 2 days. The 2.5 day trip allows anglers 3 shots at the night bight. The fishing on this trip was not wide open, but we managed to get into good meat because of the length of the trip. We travelled from San Diego’s local zones out past San Clemente Island, and back down over the course of 2.5 days. Luckily, these moved payed off in the end as were were able to find spots of fish that wanted to eat! In the end, we had fly line fish, night time knife jig fish, and day time sinker rig fish. All these being Bluefin Tuna from 20-120 pounds.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – Richie makes sure everyone on this boat is well fed. Mid-day snacks of pastries and Philly cheesesteak lunches made from homemade bread, the food served on this boat will blow you out of the water!
Bluefin or Bust has two huge meanings. You are either catching bluefin, or you are sitting at the rail for hours on end with an empty fish hold. Lucky for us, we got to experience the catching side well enough to have every angler excited and stoked to continue fishing bluefin the rest of the summer. The success we had on this trip is 100% credited to the Captain and Crew of The Apollo. Without their resilience and determination, we would have gone home empty handed. We highly recommend booking a trip on The Apollo this summer if you want a fair shot at the prized Southern California bluefin tuna.