Afishinados Charters-From the Boardroom to the Bridge
John King - Owner and operator of Afishinados Charters
My first visit to Catalina Island was in 1966. I was a very excited 11 year old heading out for a fishing trip with my Dad, my uncle Billy and my cousin Jerry, a 12 year old, and thus the wiser of us. To suggest that we were excited would be an understatement. We boarded the boat with maybe 60 other fishermen and headed out of Angel’s Gate into the darkness of the night.
It was our first time on a boat, on an ocean at night. Jerry and I took the sea breeze into our faces from the bow of the boat as we excitedly talked about the big fish we were sure to catch. At some point my Dad came forward to get us into the bunks since we would be traveling through the night.
Our bunks were in a stuffy cabin at the very front of the boat. Our bodies heaved up and down with the cadence of the ocean until we were both fully seasick. We found ourselves eating saltine crackers on the outside bench wrapped in army blankets. No turning back now!
At dawn I wearily opened one eye and brushed away the crackers. Looming off the bow of the boat was a fog-enshrouded cliff. Catalina! Land! It was our salvation until we realized that we would not be landing on the island, just fishing it for the day.
Although I would not actually land on Catalina Island for another nine years, I learned then that nothing cures seasickness like the bite of a big fish ripping line from the rod in your hands. It was an instant cure, and I have never again been seasick.
Life happened. I had a successful career and found myself running regional offices and then becoming a CEO of a small company. In the process, I got married, had a family and bought a boat or two so that we could spend weekends and summer vacations visiting Catalina Island.
I sold my business and decided to build a vacation home on the island since the kids were getting married and starting families of their own. We had visions of grand kids coming to visit us in our island getaway. On our first night of occupancy (July 3rd 2002) we had 37 guests spend the night. Fun!
I had ‘retired’ at an early age and decided to go fishing. Soon, I started taking customers with me and in June of 2003 Afishinados Charters was born. I owned a boat (Afishinados) that was the envy of many fisherman and we had some good luck winning a number of tournaments. We quickly became the ‘go to’ operator in Avalon Harbor.
Catalina Island is a beautiful gem, however, she does not reveal her secrets willingly. It became known that booking a trip with Afishinados was the surest way to learn to fish Catalina Island. Our motto was simple: ‘Book an Afishinados Charter and become a better angler.’
In 2006 we added a second boat and my wife Karen started a small boutique selling hand-made fish art, (but that is a different story). By 2012 we had grown to become a three-boat charter operation running Flying Fish Tours and Sunset Cruises as well as fishing charters.
I have had the pleasure of catching some trophy fish and teaching thousands of fisherfolk how to improve their angling skills. More importantly, I have had a role in the lives of many visitors eager to learn about the Island and her bounty.
As I write this in 2020, the year of the COVID, we find ourselves land-locked and unsure about the future. Spring will soon be Summer and we wonder if the visitors will return to the island we all love for some R&R. When they do, we will be there waiting to share some of the secrets that make Catalina Island such a magical destination.