Meet Our Boat Captains! The Best In The Business!

All Dana Wharf Captains are Certified Marine Naturalists by the American Cetacean Society

Owner & Captain Don Hansen
Owner & Captain Don HansenAll Boats

Owner and Founder of Dana Wharf

Don Hansen’s love for the Gray Whale inspired thousands to come to Dana Point each year for the annual migration, the longest migration of any living mammal on earth! Today his children continue the tradition of offering Whale Watching from our large comfortable boats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Brian Woolley
Captain Brian WoolleySum Fun

Feature writer for various publications
Certified Marine Naturalist, American Cetacean Society

Captain Brian is a native of San Clemente and still lives in the beautiful city with his wife and 3 children. He joined Dana Wharf in 1997 as Captain of the Sum Fun and continues to captain that vessel today. The Dana Wharf family shares his sense of community pride. He volunteers in the community independently and as part of the Dana Wharf family. Captain Brian, 40, loves getting kids off the video games and out on the water reminding them of the wonders of the ocean that is our backyard.

Captain Brian loves catching Rock Fish, Yellowtail and Dorado the best, though he admits anything that’s biting is fun to catch! One of his favorite things about being a boat captain is watching a new angler catch their first fish. “It doesn’t matter if they’re young or old, seeing the excitement on their faces when they reel in their first catch is thrilling for me.”

Catch and Release is one of Dana Wharf’s core corporate responsibilities. If anglers do not intend on consuming the fish they catch, Dana Wharf Captains encourage them to release the fish back into the ocean. This gives the anglers a sense of pride and is good for the environment and fishing industry.

Captain Corey Lieser
Captain Corey LieserClemente

Certified Marine Naturalist, American Cetacean Society

Captain Corey, 39, is a resident of San Juan Capistrano and has been a part of the Dana Wharf family since 1998. Born in Ohio, the Captain of the Clemente has taken out thousands of anglers over his 15 years with the landing. Although there’s no special trick to finding fish, he watches the conditions, water clarity, wind and weather and uses his gut to find the ripe spot. “When the fish are biting and everyone’s happy, I’m happy.”

The Captain is usually busy navigating the boat and doesn’t have much time to actually fish, but when he does and he hooks up, he hands over the rod to a young angler or someone who hasn’t been having much luck and lets them reel it in. He recalls an elderly gentleman who caught a nice Tuna. “He shook my hand and said thanks – that’s probably the last fish I’ll ever catch.”

As a certified naturalist, Captain Corey loves observing all marine life, particularly the Pacific White Sided Dolphin. He feels grateful that Dana Wharf’s family atmosphere provides an environment that is not only great for customers, but nurturing for employees. “The Hanson’s have a great business and I enjoy working for them,” he says.

Captain Chad Steffen
Captain Chad SteffenClemente

Certified Marine Naturalist, American Cetacean Society

Captain Chad was born in San Clemente and is 32 years old. After getting his captain’s license in 2005, he became a certified ACS naturalist and loves exploring and sharing the many wonders of the Pacific Ocean.

Captain Chad is passionate about fishing, especially aboard the Clemente. The Clemente is a perfect fishing vessel, nimble, fully equipped and the perfect size. Dorado is his favorite fish to catch because they put up a good fight making them really fun to catch. The Dorado jump and put on a great show, their vibrant colors sparkle in the sun and they are a great tasting fish.

The best part of working on the ocean is that it is ever-changing; no two days are the same – ever! The weather is up and down; fish bite feverishly then they just quit; whales and dolphin are everywhere, then the ocean can become as quiet as a desert. We run such a variety of trips and service locals and tourists with the goal of each trip providing an experience of a lifetime.

Captain Corey Hall
Captain Corey HallOcean Adventure

Board of Directors, Gray Whale Foundation
Operations Manager and Scheduler
Certified Marine Naturalist, American Cetacean Society

Captain Corey has loved the ocean since he can remember. He was born in Laguna Beach and got his Captain’s License when he was a young man of 19. He’s been on the water ever since, sharing and educating locals and visitors on the marine life here in Dana Point.

He loves both whale watching and fishing equally, especially when there are first-timers or kids on board. Captain Corey enjoys catching Calico Bass because it takes skill and finesse. There are several ways to fish Calico Bass and they can be caught year round here in Dana Point.

Since being a member of the Dana Wharf team of Captains, Captain Corey has a lot of good memories, but perhaps the most memorable was hosting the world’s tallest man on a whale watching trip. “His shoes were as big as many of the fish we catch,” explained the Captain.

Captain Todd Mansur
Captain Todd MansurOcean Adventure
Dana Pride

Director of Marine Mammal Education Programs
Board of Directors, Gray Whale Foundation
Certified Marine Naturalist, American Cetacean Society

Captain Todd was born in Laguna Beach and for the past 32 years has had a career on the ocean. Through a variety of experiences he has had the opportunity to observe hundreds of different marine species, both fish and mammals.

At the impressionable age of 13 he was the only crew member for a 20 passenger operation that fished during the spring, summer, and fall. During the winter he crewed for a whale watching operation. This early exposure to Mother Ocean had a huge impact on Todd.

In 1992 Captain Todd became Dana Wharf Whale Watching’s lead naturalist and conducts all of the pre-excursion in-classroom education for Orange County’s schools. This is also a major role for Todd as a Board Member of the Gray Whale Foundation.

Todd does pubic speaking engagements on the topic upon request.

Captain Dustin Mayo
Captain Dustin MayoReel Fun

Certified Marine Naturalist, American Cetacean Society

New Jersey native Captain Dustin “Dusty” has traveled on some rough seas while in the US Coast Guard, but now prefers the calmer seas of South Orange County. He’s crossed the equator on a ship, spent a year in Alaska and lots of time in South America navigating some very rough seas.

Yellowtail is his favorite fish to catch because they put up a good battle and are good eating when grilled with garlic and a little lemon. He enjoys helping kids learn to fish and watching them become ‘regulars’ at Dana Wharf. The Dana Wharf Kids Club has helped get kids involved in fishing and they usually like it so much they come back almost weekly.

Captain Dusty is 33 years old and lives in San Clemente with his wife and 8 year-old daughter, spending most of their free time, you guessed it…in the ocean! “Fishing, surfing and going to the beach is our favorite family activity,” laughs Dusty.

Captains Not Shown: Owner/Captain Mike Hansen, Shane Mansur, Frank Brennan