Walk a mile in my flip flops

fat buzz bay striper= Bill from upstate NY with his largest striper

I’m often told that I have the ultimate job being a charter captain.  I have to agree with my clients who mention this to me. I often think to myself if they only knew what goes into a day in the life of a light tackle guide, they might have different thoughts.  I know what you’re thinking and no this isn’t a story on how bad it can be or any self pity trust me.  I just thought it would be cool for others to see what actually goes into being a guide and what each day might bring.  For starters, once you decide to enter the profession you need a well equipped vessel and the proper USCG credentials.  Those two items are no small feat or expense in themselves.  I recently had a neighbor of mine come by one afternoon while I was cleaning the “Pesky Pole”    (my Andros Boatworks, Cuda 23) who had just moved to Florida from Kentucky and had a small skiff he fished out of say to me, “I’m thinking of starting a charter business where do you get the license?”.  I had to break the bad news to him that you first need to go through the USCG approved training classes and document your time on the water (a minimum of 360 documented days on the water), your first aid certificate, a USCG certified physical, TWIC card  (issued by the TSA after an extensive FBI background check) and the proper insurance coverage of roughly 1 million dollars.  This is just for the basic OUPV 6-PAC license.  I have three certifications up to a 50-Ton master license that took roughly 5 years to obtain and many dollars in cost.  Needless to say he had a dumbfounded look on his face and he said, “thanks man, I’ll see ya around’.  I didn’t even get to the part about obtaining the state level permits, but I think he got the gist of it that it’s not that easy as it looks to even get into the business.  I will spare the marketing part of the job as that could take up a lengthy sheet of paper in its self.

Let’s look at what a typical day is like;

Alarm clock goes off around 4:00am.  Fire up the laptop for a last minute check of the NOAA marine forecast.   Grab a quick bite of oatmeal and toast.  Get dressed with the proper attire for that days forecast. Head to the bait freezer for ice and bait.  Carry the heavy load to the boat sitting on its trailer already hooked up to the truck and make sure all the rods and tackle are in order.  Head to the nearest gas station to fuel up the boat and truck. Walk across the street to the local Dunkin Donuts for the mornings caffeine fix.  If I’m fishing further away than normal this routine might start as early as 3:00am.  Drive to the determined ramp location and launch the Pesky Pole.  Tie her up to the dock and find a parking spot for the truck and trailer.  Meet with the clients around 5:00-5:30. Go over a quick safety drill on the boat and store the client’s food and gear.  Cast off and head to the fishing grounds.  I usually stop at a close location and go over a quick casting lesson or at least get familiar with their casting abilities and reel handle preference.  Sometimes we start catching schoolie stripers right away and this strategy always gets the client’s fired up for the day.  If I have experienced anglers on the boat the day can go pretty smooth, but if not, I may be spending my entire day untangling lines and if we are bottom fishing, baiting hooks. I actually enjoy this part more than others.  Like a bartender has to wash glasses, untangling lines and such is just part of the profession.  The normal day can consist of glassing for birds and fish breaking the surface and running over to work the school before others notice the action.  A normal day might consist of heading back to a marina to allow the client’s to stretch their legs and use the facilities before going back out for the remainder of the trip.  Each day brings something new and I learn from each day on the water. However one aspect is always constant and that is I’m going to be hoping around the boat grabbing fish, measuring fish, baiting lines and switching lures many times over.  This wears on your body trust me. The day usually ends around 2:00pm as we head to the dock. Hopefully we have a productive day and many fish come over the rail and into the pail as we say.  This means one thing.  I’m going to be cleaning many fish at the end of the trip.  I work alone and I’m the captain, first mate all in one.  The chore of cleaning fish can take another hour or longer some days, but that’s the reason the clients are using my guiding service.  After the fish are cleaned and the boat is tied up to the dock and the handshakes are over its time to put her on the trailer.  Depending on the season and date there could be a long wait to load her up head for home.  This is when the real work begins. A quick stop to buy bait and ice for the next day’s trip is usually in order. Once back home it’s time to clean the boat inside and out.  I pride myself on a very clean and clutter free vessel and this takes time.  I want the clients to have the best experience and this takes roughly another hour and a half.  After the cleaning chore is done its time to rinse the rods and inspect the tackle.  I usually replace the day’s leaders with fresh fluorocarbon and make sure the reels are greased and ready for action. Finally the day ends around 6:00pm.  Then it’s time to shower up, grab a cold beer and relax for maybe a few minutes.  Then while eating dinner I check the tide and weather forecast for the next few days to plan for the next charter either on Cape Cod in the summer or the Florida Gulf Coast in the winter.  Put the Red Sox game on and watch a few innings before its lights out around 9:00pm.  That’s roughly a 14 hr day in the life of a fishing guide.

I hope this article sheds a little light on what it’s like to work on the water.  I absolutely love it and the thrill of seeing a client land the biggest fish of their lives is worth every back breaking, blood and guts moment for me. Being on the water as the sun is coming up and smelling the salt air is magical I wouldn’t trade it for high paid corporate job ever!

Stephanie from VT with her first ever keeper striped bass

Stephanie from VT with her first ever keeper striped bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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