I can’t tell just how many times the same question pops up when I take people out on the water for the first time with that question being, “Why don’t you become a charter boat captain?”
The answer to that is easy. Having done my share of being a mate on charter boats during my late teens and early 20s, that summer occupation darn near robbed me of my love for the water.
Usually the people were nice enough, but talk about a grind. I admire all charter captains because, talk about “true grit,” they have it in spades.
Simplifying things might be best put as “different faces but the same old questions” day after day after day.
So why am I going there? As you may or may not know, on a part-time basis I guide people in their boats. Usually these folks are new to the area, have just purchased a boat and are unfamiliar with our waters, tides and such and in most cases, want to learn how to fish.
Having been in these same shoes when I travel to new areas, I know how daunting it is being in strange waters. At times it can be terrifying not knowing what lies in front of the boat or even more importantly, what is under it. Then trying to figure out where to fish and how to fish that area can make for a miserable day.
Boating and fishing are supposed to be relaxing, but with all these unknowns, one on top of the other, relaxing is the last thing on your mind.
Having many past stressful and often unproductive days trying to figure out foreign waters is what spurred me on to have sympathy for new boat owners here and hopefully get them off on the right foot. And you know what? I love it!
Thus far I have been extremely lucky guiding. Over the past few years of doing this, I have met some awesome folks and made great friends in the process. In quite a few instances, what was intended to be a one-shot guide trip turns into a bond where I accompany them on just about every excursion they take.
I have noticed a couple of things while guiding.
The first is it’s hard to not like an avid fisherman, especially if they are tuned in to nature and the experience of any particular day rather than how many fish they catch. Luckily, most of my “regulars” are in this category.
As our friendship grows, I have a tendency of giving each of them a nickname. One is “Sponge” because he is always ravenous for any and all knowledge he can pick up as we fish. Another is “Ziploc” because, according to him, he never had a reason to bring Ziploc bags for fish filets before he started fishing with me. Now when we fish, he has those damn bags everywhere. They are sticking out of his pockets, tackle box, cooler and when I open any compartment on his boat, there is yet another one. Funny but true.
Having not fished inshore yet this year, last Friday was the day. For months I had been looking for the right weather and right tides to guide new boat owner and Oldfield resident Mike Falvo. Seeing the forecast for light winds, a high temperature predicted in the upper 70s and pretty good tides, I called him saying it was time to give it a shot.
Truthfully, my confidence level was pretty weak because I hadn’t fished inshore in months and worried I might not even remember how to do it. That’s bad.
But with a smile on my face, we met at the boat landing and headed out. I can read people quickly and I could tell from our very first conversation that Mike had the right attitude. Sure, he wanted to learn how to navigate our waters, but he made it clear that he was not in it for a cooler stuffed with fish but rather soaking in the beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Now that’s my kind of guy!
Arriving at spot number one, down went the bait and it had barely hit the bottom when the rod bent double. After a rather sporty battle, up comes a big black drum which we released. Then another big drum, followed by several big sheepshead.
From there we hit another spot and it was bent rods again. It couldn’t have been more beautiful outside and I could tell he was soaking it all up.
The next spot was slot redfish and big trout. Talk about a day. I’m sure it exceeded his expectations and it definitely exceeded mine.
I made a friend that day and also discovered a new boater and fisherman to our area that understands it’s not about how much you take from our waters, but rather how much you give back. Now that, my friends, is what it is all about.