Anglers await an afternoon sportfishing boat. A new lease agreement may mean the end of open party sportfishing from Oceanside Harbor. Photo by Promise Yee
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Helgren’s Sportsfishing fights to hold onto its lease

OCEANSIDE — Helgren’s Sportsfishing got word that it may lose its lease at Oceanside Harbor after 38 years.

The family owned and operated charter boat company wants to continue its business, and provide sport fishing opportunities from the harbor.

Helgren’s is as much an icon of Oceanside Harbor as the lighthouse building located next to it. For close to four decades it has offered day and overnight fishing trips, whale watching tours and burial at sea services.

Earlier this year Helgren’s was notified there would be an open request for proposals to assure there was no monopoly on the lease, which expires in May 2017.

Michael Duff, general corporate counsel for Helgren’s, said the company expected to reapply for its lease, and was told by harbor manager Paul Lawrence the city was “being fair, and there’s nothing to worry about.”

Bidding closed on May 31.

Helgren’s and another Oceanside-based company submitted proposals to lease exclusive vessel for hire rights within the harbor, an approximate 2,300 square foot building, and dock space for about six boats.

Lawrence said as of Sept. 6, no final decision has been made on the lease.

“The RFP process is ongoing and there is currently no lease completed, nor is there a date to take a recommended lease to the City Council,” Lawrence said.

Duff said Lawrence called company owner Joey Helgren on Aug. 23, to give him a heads up that another company was (preliminarily) selected.

A day prior to Lawrence’s call, a San Diego newspaper reporter contacted Helgren’s for an interview on the lease loss.

Duff said he has questions about the selection process, and how word of a tentative decision was known by the media before Lawrence told Helgren.

He said he also has concerns about the brevity of the lease applicant, which is three pages long, compared to the harbor janitorial services document, which is 30 pages.

Duff said Helgren’s had a verbal interview with the lease review committee as a preliminary step, and understood there would be an opportunity to speak to Oceanside City Council/Harbor District Board of Directors before a decision was made.

Lawrence told The Coast News on Tuesday that a request for proposal will soon be brought forward.

“What we have at this time is a staff recommendation for one of the RFP respondents,” Lawrence said.

The company, which is said to be considered for the lease (although not confirmed) is Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research. The nonprofit is know for catch and release practices, and research.

It does not provide open party sportsfishing, which is the most popular service Helgren’s offers.

This alarms Helgren’s for the welfare of its customers.

“If you don’t own a boat, and can’t afford to buy one (charter an entire boat), you have to go somewhere else,” Duff said.

Duff said he wants answers on how the tentative selection was made, and has requested documents from the city. He said he was recently notified by the city attorney that documents will be withheld until final lease negotiations.

In April, Lawrence said proposals would be scored for new vessels, a wide range of services, experience, financial statements, proposed lease terms, planned improvements and other factors.

Duff said news that there will be a public hearing soon is heartening.

He said Helgren’s has run a successful long-term business and wants to continue its relationship with the city.

He added until there is a final decision it will be business as usual for Helgren’s, which has seen a high fish count this week and had full boats for open party fishing trips.

The Coast News will continue to provide updates on lease negotiations.


David Christensen September 7, 2016 at 6:25 pm

I hope they can stay I come all the way from Laguna Beach once a week to fish on the Oceanside 95 because they have the best services. There are many landing I could go to. However I spend my money in Oceanside.

Muck September 7, 2016 at 7:23 pm

There are sportfishing operations involved with the new group, but you wouldn’t have heard it only talking to Helgrens camp.

John Lenos September 8, 2016 at 7:08 am

I work on the Sea Trek out of Helgrens Sportfishing. Couldnt be happier working here. Would be a huge loss if we cant stay. I may be out of a job with many other deckhands. Hope we win this one!

bill w September 8, 2016 at 9:20 am

we got Trouble with a capital T ! right here in BEAZER HOMES COMPANY-TOWN san luis rey river city!………………………ANYBODY but jim wood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brett September 8, 2016 at 11:40 am

“Helgren’s and another Oceanside-based company submitted proposals to lease exclusive vessel for hire rights within the harbor…”
Why does it need to be exclusive? Why shouldn’t there be two (or more) companies that can provide vessels for hire? That right there seems to be the problem.

Bill Wisniewski September 8, 2016 at 2:37 pm

the big problem for helmgren’s is that pfelger’s lobbyists outbid them with bribes for our city-hall, RINO , soiled ladies of the night! (woods , kerns). at the oceanside city hall love-ranch , it’s always follow the money to the integrity sellout!

Bill Wisniewski September 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm


Sully September 8, 2016 at 3:13 pm

It seems a shame that there is no value given to the years of loyalty Helgrens has given this city. When NOTHING was going on, Helgrens was there and part of the community and especially the flailing harbor district. Now all of a sudden Oceanside is on the map and the powers that be dump the long time area locals that helped sustain the economy through thick and thin? It’s insulting they wouldn’t gratefully renew this generational lease that became the bedrock of the harbor. Why are they getting punished for having held on in tough times and now good-and some fair weather tenant can come in and take over where they have carved out their own success that the city benefitted from for all these years? I call foul. Don’t get too big for your britches, Oceanside. I’ve been around when that harbor area was a ghost town. But Helgrens was always there. What a bunch of sell-outs! SMH.

Sean September 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Oceanside is so corrupt. I had a yacht brokerage company in the harbor for 12 years…same thing, went up for RFP a couple of years ago out of the blue (well the city is still fighting a wrongful death police shooting from 1 foot from my door, so maybe 🙂 a coincidence, doubt it). Regardless, City Atty Mullen told me then that he was putting every lease in Oceanside up for RFP to calm me down. And he specifically named Helgrens as next up. I called Joey Helgren that day and he had heard nothing about it. Guess they already had this in the works and just forgot to mention it to the lease holdet whose livlihood depends on it..Helgrens and crew. Slime balls of Oceanside political spectrum proving thier reputation yet again. hope this works out for Helgrens

Ray Gonzales September 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm

My friends and I have been fishing out of Helgrens for 20 years. We travel over 80 miles to Oceanside stopping to eat and buy fishing tackle in Oceanside. Helgrens’ offers superior service. Hope the city realize they have a proven service with Helgrens.

Erik Perez September 10, 2016 at 11:38 pm

Helgrens Sportfishing is indeed a icon for the city of Oceanside and the harbor. There are many generations of memories. The families who have been on those boats as kids and now take there own kids is something you can’t replace. It’s home, it’s the memories, it’s why you go! Bring in new boats and a new look and you lose!! Yes, LOSE years and years of return business from families who love being with a company who has been there with them as they have grown up. As the city has grown. Let this comment be more of a statement to the City of Oceanside! I buy my gas when I’m there in the area. I eat with my family after a long day. It’s not just about the boats. We also spend our money in your city!! However you take away the Icon. The whole reason we fish the boats in Oceanside you lose it all. I can only speak for my family. I know I’m not alone being there boats up and down the coast. We fish in Oceanside because of the years of memories.

pat ross September 19, 2016 at 10:09 am

The real story is a Mom and Pop operation won the bid. They are die hard fishermen that have boats in San Diego. They will be working with the PIER institute. Peir are the people who are researching through tagging Blue fin tuna and White Seabass among other species. They are for THE FISHERMAN.
Helgrans was low balling the city and just got out bid plain and simple

kenneth garcia/pearcy/snoopy December 10, 2016 at 12:37 am

my grand pappy ran with the ol fishing barge before helgrens and when I was ready, he took me fishing on the electra and had a stroke. wondering around the deck, wasn’t long when the awesome crew seen that I had lost my g-pa. we found him in the forward bunks. they let me spend a moment with him as they informed the cap’t we had an emergency.i spent a good time with him as we rolled back to port and he said “you like what these guys are doing?” I replied “yes grand-pa, this is the best day of my life, are going to be o.k.?” I was 13 yrs. old and he said “don’t worry bout me son, go top deck and see what you can do to help”. that was the first day that I started learning how to fish. I miss my g-pa and the way the crew was so concerned. as a pin-head, I fished with the crew whenever I can be there as I work with the railroad and plan on retiring with them. they will take me out to sea and let me go when the time comes and ill be damn if I back down to this crap. look! I know a bit more than you think and if you think what you want to do is in the best interest for the Oceanside harbor and its legacy, YOUR ON THE WRONG PATH!. helgrens should stay. as an able body seaman, I CONCURE! prior and future deckhand for helgrens.

snoopy December 10, 2016 at 12:41 am

I just told a whole story and could not allow to be told. hum? I wonder

snoopy December 10, 2016 at 12:43 am

let me give you parts. my grandpa took me fishing.

snoopy December 10, 2016 at 12:44 am

had stroke and was found in the forward bunks

snoopy December 10, 2016 at 12:45 am

was 13 yrs. old. then I started fishing with helgrens

snoopy December 10, 2016 at 12:58 am

looks like it did go through. my bad and its late and I rarely get online. so heres the deal everyone. im one of the best damn deckhands ever trained and its cause of helgrens and the people they have in their line up. alby back!!! meanwhile, I support helgrens Oceanside sportfishing till the day I die. im not a quitter and that’s the kind of people helgrens have molded for many years. see you soon mates.

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