MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
While their working day normally consists of training future Marines, drill instructors of Recruit Training Regiment became pupils and hit the deep blue sea for a day off from work, appearing as guests on the TV show, Sport Fishing with Dan Hernandez, June 31.
The show covers both fresh and saltwater fishing in California and Mexico, so the Marines visited the Coronado Islands and Mexico, in search of barracuda, bonita, bass, yellowtail and sculpin fish.
“You work every day of the week training the future of the Marine Corps,” said Dan Hernandez, show host and professional sport fisherman, to Marines of Recruit Training Regiment. “This is the 13th time we have brought you guys out here with us and we’ll continue to do so until we can’t do this any more. Thank you for what you do and have fun today. The biggest concern I want you to have today is how big of a fish you’re going to catch.”
Hernandez said that the fishing trip is the least he can do for the Marines who sacrifice their lives for the freedoms he takes pleasure in.
“The fact that these guys take time out of their schedule to take us out for a day of fishing says a lot about them and the community,” said Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Bruce, drill instructor, RTRegiment. “It will be a rewarding experience for those of us who haven’t been on this trip before and for those who have never fished before.”
Before setting sail, the Marines underwent a brief class on proper fishing techniques, the mechanics of the rod and how to hook the live anchovies and sardines they would be using as bait.
“You want to try and bait the most natural looking fish you can grab out of the tank,” said Hernandez. “It’s important to hook the bait the correct way so it doesn’t die and instead swims while on their line in the water.”
Bruce caught the first fish of the day, a four-foot barracuda. After that first catch, the poles began bending and fish were being reeled in.
Throughout the trip, Marines caught barracuda and sculpin, but the sculpin had to be handled with care due to their sharp, poisonous fins. In total, the Marines caught more than 80 fish in nine hours.
While the bait attracted a plethora of fish, they were not the only sea creatures attracted to the onslaught of sardines and anchovies pouring off the back of the boat. A couple of pelicans and seagulls got tangled in the line while in pursuit of the bait. They were reeled in immediately and released. Sea lions also helped themselves to an afternoon snack by following the boat and biting off only the body of the fish, leaving only the heads for the Marines to reel in. Dolphins also followed close to the boat.
The pull on the line from the ocean made it hard to distinguish what was a fish biting the hook or a sea lion or just the ocean. “It was hard to get a hold of at first, especially with the seal lions stealing out bait, but once we got the hang of it, it felt natural,” Bruce said.
Because the episode will air during the Christmas season, at the end of the day each Marine recorded an on-camera message to his family and deployed service members.
“This trip was a real nice change of pace from what we are used to doing every day,” Bruce said. “These guys didn’t have to do this and they were extremely patient with us when someone had a snagged line or trouble with hooking the bait.”
During the two-hour boat ride back to the harbor, the crew cut the fish any way the Marines wanted them: filet, gutted or with their heads cut off and the Marines were able to take their trophies home for a freshly-caught dinner.
“Dinner is going to be tasty tonight,” said Bruce.