From the age of 12, Santa Barbara has been home base for many of my sportfishing experiences. This beautiful city is home to some of the best sportfishing out there. Due to its specific geographic location you can fish for multiple species throughout the year. I’ve had some epic rockfishing at the islands and coast and have even caught bass, yellowtail, white seabass, barracuda, and even salmon and albacore.
Jason Diamond runs a professional, clean, and solid fleet with his two boats—the Stardust and Coral Sea. The Stardust was the boat I learned all the ropes on. It’s where I learned how to navigate on the water, and where honed in my fishing skills.
Going fishing on the Stardust brings me back to my youth with my father and his friends. This particular trip was a shadow of just that. We embarked at 6am for a full day of fishing. Just as the sun came up, we were gifted with beautiful weather as well as a great group of anglers. After a three hour drive out to the West End of Santa Cruz Island, Captain Sal stopped on our first drift. Tough pickings at first, but then it was just wide open on big white fish, reds, and chucks.
With all that amazing fishing we really worked up an appetite for one of the best burgers on the coast, the classic Stardust burger and of course the Mega Mouth. With John in the galley, you can’t go wrong. The classic is a single patty with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayo and mustard topping it off with grilled onions (basted w/ mustard), salt, pepper. Yes, you read that correctly, he grills the onions with butter and mustard ensuring a tasty caramelization. The Mega Mouth, a colossal double grilled cheese with sourdough, two patties with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions and two eggs that’ll blow your taste buds off the boat. A monster of a burger for all lovers of something different, that is- if you can finish it. All in all it was a spectacular day with great fishing, laughs, and amazing food. Gigo came for his patties, Arto for the fishing and adventure, and me , well…. for all of it! Spectacular trip with a top notch crew and operation!
We stumbled on this amazing boat during Day at the Docks in San Diego. We were blown away by their energy, and the beauty of this vessel, and soon were invited out on a 1.75 day trip to get a taste of some early season bluefin fishing. Bluefin fishing is the direct opposite of rockfishing. We knew going into it, it could be a hit or miss. With such finicky fish, you don’t know what to expect. Hunter is a great captain, young and eager to find fish. Though he may be young, his professionalism is exceptional. With a great crew on his side they all greeted us with open arms. We set off the docks at 11 am and headed south into Mexican waters where they had been sightings of these fish.
Luckily a couple hours into it, we stopped at a few kelp patties for some nice grade yellowtails to really kick off the show and build excitement. Ian cooked up some delicious tortilla soup to really settle our bellies on that cold rainy day. It was the perfect meal to go with our conditions that made us feel at home. All that was missing was a fireplace, but who needs a fireplace when you’re out on the water! After a few soaks, the tuna search didn’t stop.. We stopped on multiple fish but none wanted to eat the bait, the flat falls, nor anything we threw at them.
At last, it was my first experience having dinner on a sport boat. Ian made a beautiful chicken alfredo pasta with home-made sauce. The breaded chicken was cooked to perfection. We were all still so excited that Arto cleaned his plate with no trace! Again, we felt so at home with a gracious crew and top notch service.
Once dinner was a complete we stopped on a really nice school and just like the other soaks, nothing bit. I can tell we were all getting frustrated but you have to have hope! Bluefin fishing is all built on patience and good bait. As we continued our search, half the people went to bed, the others sleeping standing up with a rod in their hand waiting for the captains horn to go off to drop the baits. We didn’t even sleep in our bunks until about 3 am. All night Pablo drove miles and miles searching for something to bite, but there was nothing.. We awoke in the morning refreshed and ready to tackle the day, what we were shocked to find was a beautiful stir fry egg breakfast cooked by the chef. It was the perfect meal to start the day off with. The taste of Asian cuisine of a sport boat was mind blowing. As we went on the rail, we were yet again faced with the game of the bluefin. They were boiling around the boat, but not a single line bit.. With all that tension through the day, we were ready for the King. This burger… let me tell you, it was like having a burger at a 5 star restaurant. Juicy and tender wagyu beef double cheese, grilled onions, sprouts, bacon, chopped romaine, avocado, with a over medium egg and a perfectly toasted bun was so impressive. It looked so beautiful I didn’t even want to eat it, BUT of course, we demolished it. So much flavor packed inside this burger with such balance. Gigo wanted to have 2 more… and truthfully, I know he could!
We were back on the rail for yet another soak, determined, we grinded it out all day until the sun set.. We knew they were there but couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t bite! It was 7 pm and I’ll never forget my rod start shaking as my bait took off for the run, set, wind, and the rod bent, I yelled “HOOK UP” and everyone was excited again. All that hope, patience, and consistence paid off! Finally, the first bluefin was on the boat, just 2 hours before we set course toward home. Once the fish hit the deck, we heard another “ Fresh One” being yelled out. I immediately threw out another bait hoping to get bit, but nothing came.. Luckily I landed a great grade 35lb bluefin but the guys were not so lucky, then again, this is what we came for “The Hunt For Bluefin”. With half my mind tired and the other still startled by the fish, we were ready to have our final 5-star meal as we headed home. Tender Rib-eye with a bearnaise sauce, mashed potatoes, salad, and to top it off, blueberry cheesecake. What else can anyone ask for… 4 courses of food, few yellowtail and a bluefin, that’s a dream come true!! The entire crew spoiled us all with outstanding service and their hospitality. I would go out on this sportfishing operation everyday if I could.
THE BOAT BURGER EXPERIENCE