BY BOB SEMERAU
OCEANSIDE — The feeling was like coming home again. Except to a brighter, better-equipped home, with new electronics and more.
A special 1.5-day offshore tuna trip aboard Oceanside 95 for the 4th of July holiday weekend left Helgren’s at Oceanside Harbor just after 8 p.m. Friday night, July 3rd.
With 20 anglers celebrating the all-American holiday at sea, in search of big-bruiser bluefin and smaller-sized yellowfin, the trip promised to be a blast.
Helgren’s has set up a kiosk right at the first area parking lot at the harbor, making it very convenient to park and check-in. Sandra handles the check-in with a fervor and personality not soon forgotten.
Oceanside 95’s new owner/operator is long-standing SoCal sportboat skipper, Captain Rick Slavkin, and Captain Rick has begun making improvements to the storied boat.
“I had been running the boat for Joey Helgren for several years and when the opportunity came along to buy O-95, I just had to do it,” says the affable Captain Rick.
“Then of course came the changes that needed to be made,” said the skipper.
But as they say, it takes a village. Helping aboard O-95, retired fire-fighter, Peter Rohrich, lends a hand most days handling basic improvements. Larger projects have been accomplished working with the boat’s cook and chief engineer of many years, Jake Ternovacz.
“Captain Rick immediately upgraded all the electronics. We then remodeled the restrooms, put in new water heaters, new carpet throughout the bunkrooms and converted to LED lighting throughout,” beamed Peter Rohrich. Refrigerated sea water (RSW) fish-holds and complete re-power are on the horizon.
The new ownership takes safety very seriously and has implemented and reinforces the requirements for COVID-19 protocols. Masks, temperature checks, sanitizer dispensers, and constant reminders over the P.A. make the boat one of the most compliant in the fleet.
Another important safety effort is a 24-hour fire watch and the installation of USB charging plugs in each stateroom, allowing the safe charging of electronic devices.
A smooth ride out to the fishing grounds delivered O-95 to the zone just after 3:30 a.m. and a few anglers got busy testing the waters under a nearly full moon.
Hawaiian born brothers, Travis and Clayton Tompkins, had moved to Oceanside recently and were out for their first offshore tuna trip. Travis led the way by hooking up at 6:45 a.m. His battle waged for almost two hours when brother Clayton connected, and the pair of twenty-somethings often fought side-by-side at the rail.
Captain Rick constantly reported depths and numbers of fish spotted on his sonar, giving anglers plenty of hope they would be next to hook up.
Oceanside 95 Deck Boss Marcello Lopez and volunteer deck hand Jeff Herrington spelled each of the Tompkins brothers when the arms were ready to give out, allowing them time to recover and return to the fight.
After just under two hours, Clayton brought the big 90-plus-pound bluefin to gaff and his fight was over. Travis, however, had a tougher battle on his hands. After four hours, at last seeing deep color, his reel blew up and the fish came unbuttoned simply swimming off to fight another day.
Other anglers hooked up but lost fish through the day in the zone while the boat made a few moves, giving opportunities for some and frustration for others.
Frequent Oceanside 95 anglers Ed Ingle and Paul Michael come out often and love the boat and its crew, but neither had been able to land a big bluefin in previous trips. During the busy day at sea, both men landed bluefin, with Ingle’s fish taping at 70 pounds and Paul Michael’s beast going 162 pounds.
A 20-pound, schoolie-sized yellowfin took a bait for one angler and two others bit on the troll.
But the big fish of the 4th of July trip came to Rialto angler Daniel Lucero boating his fish in less than two hours. According to Deck Boss Lopez, the beautiful blue taped out at 209 pounds, a personal best for Lucero.
Constant improvements to the boat and a concerted effort by the crew for safety and for getting fish make Oceanside 95 the boat to watch in seasons to come. Fishing for big bluefin and yellowfin, paddy hopping for yellowtail and dorado, or simply getting out on a ¾-day run in local waters, the open decks, big staterooms and spacious galley make O-95 a great choice any time of year.
For more information or to book the Oceanside 95, visit helgrensportfishing.com.