I have been in advertising and design for nearly 35 years, and even though most of you are under the assumption that all I do is fish, hunt and explore the great outdoors, the reality is I still spend much of my time glued in front of my Mac, designing everything from ads to logos and brochures plus anything else clients throw my way.
I still love designing, but I broke my back in a car accident a few years ago, and six back operations later, it is nearly impossible for me to sit hunched over in front of a computer for eight hours a day.
I was pretty depressed when I closed my office on Hilton Head Island and began working out of my home, and it wasn’t until I came up with idea of guiding people on their boats that I snapped out of feeling sorry for myself.
Chronic pain pretty much dictates my day-to-day life. But because I work from home, I am able to take a one-hour siesta just about every afternoon that makes a world of difference, especially when it comes to my level of pain.
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But what has made the biggest difference in my life is dividing my time between two favorite things: designing and fishing. I know I can’t do either full-time, but splitting what time I am able to work between these two things has been the best thing to happen to me since the day of my accident.
Don’t get me wrong, because pain-wise, I pay dearly for every hour I sit in front of my computer and every second I spend on the water. But it sure is better than dwelling on my limitations or sitting around withering away to nothing.
I know that anybody who has suffered from back pain for any period of time has found that if you sit around and do nothing, the pain just gets worse. You have to keep moving or else you might as well crawl off into the woods like an old dog.
So what inspired me to start teaching people how to catch fish around here, as well as being a better boater and sportsman? It started quite by accident after I began putting on “How to Fish the Lowcountry” seminars at the Waddell Mariculture Center.
Usually I would limit these seminars to 20 people so I could spend more one-on-one time with each participant, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that just about every person in attendance was ravenous for knowledge that would make their fishing excursions more productive.
Many of the things they said helped them most were things that I took for granted, having fished here for 50 years.
“Show me how do I throw a cast net,” “What tide is best for trout or redfish?” or “What do I look for, because everything seems to look the same?”
You wouldn’t believe the amount of time and money many of these folks had spent and still had never ever caught a redfish or trout. I am talking beautiful boats, expensive tackle and electronics and still no fish. I really felt for these people and tried to give them as much information as I could so that maybe, just maybe, they would have a successful day on the water.
It wasn’t until I put out a flyer that said, “Have a boat and can’t catch fish? Then call me!” that I began my second career. I knew from the get-go that physically one or two trips a week would be about it, but since that very first trip, I have loved every single outing.
Sometimes the people are locals, other times they come from the Upstate, and it isn’t until I meet up with them that I know what type of boat they have. I have guided on jon boats, pontoons, slick flats and boats that range from 15 feet to 46 feet. Inshore, nearshore and offshore are all offered, but what I do that charter boats don’t is I try and get them involved as much as possible.
It would be easier for me if I did all the rigging, but the next time they went out without me, they would be right back at square one. This way of doing things came easy to me, because I was never one that would read manuals on how to do something. It just wouldn’t stick in my mind but if I had someone show me something once, I never forgot how to do whatever the task might have been.
Even now when I buy something that needs to be put together, I usually throw away the “how to” manual and put it together by looking at the picture on the box. Am I ADD? My mom thought so.
It really boils down to the fact that I like helping people, and that is something I have always tried to do in every aspect of my life. I get the greatest amount of satisfaction after I have showed someone how to do something, and later on they call me and tell me that it changed their life in a good way.
I have come to learn that what may appear insignificant to me can be highly significant to others. Most of all, I also try to teach them to respect the environment and to practice catch and release. If everyone takes that approach, our fisheries will remain strong and vibrant for generations yet to come.