Captain Brian Norris, owner of the elite sport fishing boat, ‘Fin Fetish’ is one of those rare masters of his craft, whose passion, knowledge and very presence somehow instills confidence even in the total beginner…good news because I get to ‘Fin Fetish’ in Marina del Rey at 7 a.m. with my small backpack containing a few Clif bars, bottled water, a 6-pak of beer, a change of t-shirt and jeans.

Worth mentioning….
I’m prone to sea sickness.
I know nothing about sportfishing.
I have no fishing gear.
All of these very good reasons to be doing this trip only on Fin Fetish.

FIN FETISH just before departure in Marina del Rey, CA

And this is no half-day excursion. This is a 36-hour trip. We’ll get three or four hours of sleep out under a blanket of stars. I hope.


First Mate Joe makes final preparations for departure and Capt. Brian informs me that it’ll just me and one other guy on the charter. As if on cue I see this dude striding down the dock ramp toward the boat – hat on backwards, sunglasses, and carrying several rods and what appears to be expensive gear. He wears an ‘I was born for this shit’ look on his face.

Brendon and I will become fast friends and I’ll discover soon enough that not only is this guy an experienced, badass fisherman but also a Marine Corp. veteran who served in Afghanistan. But more on that later. For the moment I’m almost hoping that we receive some sort coastguard extreme-weather warning on the radio to cancel our trip and send us home with a full refund.
No dice.

After fueling up and filling the basin with plenty of live bait, we head due west out of Marina del Rey for some 15 miles and then point north 40 miles to the Channel Islands.

Captain Brian lays out the itinerary. By 10 a.m. we’ll be fishing rock fish in spots that Captain Brian knows like the back of his hand. Then we’ll head to another spot where, as he explains ‘The yellowtail have been swimming in the afternoon for past couple weeks.’

Some background… I met Capt. Brian while I was working for a sailboat charter company in Marina del Rey cleaning and maintaining their fleet of sailboats. His sport fishing boat
Fin Fetish has a slip on the same dock as our sailboats.

Brian grew up in Santa Monica and to watch him fish, captain his boat and teach clients how to fish Santa Monica bay is watch a master at work. The guy is all heart & soul with exceptional toughness and business savvy thrown in for good measure.

Those who work on the ocean have a certain charm and soul and confidence. A relationship with the nature that sets them apart and cultivates a distinct individualism. There’s a respect for the natural world that most of us will never understand. It’s also easy to observe that the really great ones are also the warmest and most generous souls. Brian and his first mate Joe are all of these things.
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The little voice in my head begins to make noise…‘Ok brother, you may have gotten yourself into a very long and troubling 36 hours.
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This is all well and good, but in the moment I feel very much like the actor I am and totally out of his comfort zone. The little voice in my head begins to make noise…‘Ok brother, you might have gotten yourself into a very long and troubling 36 hours.”