Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Travails of a Charter Boat Captain by Richard Thomman

Richard Thomann is an ORCA member, reel collector, and all around saltwater fishing guru. He wrote this email to John Elder who forwarded it to me, and it was just too good a story not to share with everyone.

The Travails of Charter Boat Captain

by Richard Thomman

I wouldn't even take the time to recap fishing yesterday, if it wasn't something I thought you would enjoy! Took two older guys from my Dad's R/C Airplane club who have been begging me to take them fishing.

I put the boat in water at 4am and went out to end of jetty and caught a full tank of live mackerel in about 20 minutes. Headed back to dock to pick them up and got a call that they were running late. Instead of 5:30 they showed up at about 6:15. I commented that the wind was blowing, there were some clouds and asked if they had rain gear. I went back up to truck to get my Gortex jacket and offered to loan them some rain gear, but they didn't think they needed it we went.

Got out to lingcod ridge and since they were paying $80 each for the day, I didn't fish, just helped out with baits & rigs. I told them not to drag the bottom....drop to bottom and then reel up 3-5 cranks. Both of them hung on rocks on first drop and pretty much had us anchored. At least they couldn't complain about not getting to pull on something. I broke them off and had other rigs tied, so fairly quick back in water. Within 2 minutes, both were hung on bottom again. That was the first time I heard one say "there are no fish here", but I remained calm and held back comment. I got one free and only lost the weight on 2nd so pretty fast back in water. I talked them through...hit bottom, crank, crank some more...made sure they were not dragging bottom.

Went back to beginning of ridge, a perfect drift right straight down the ridge line from south to north. Normally it is up and over ridge which is much more snaggy. After one drop and about 3 minutes, one guy said "no fish here but I know the half day boat is on fish. Let's go fish over there," which was a couple miles back toward Mission bay. The other guy agreed. I looked at the fish finder and grabbed a rod and dropped down and almost immediately had a fish. Remember, I was not fishing drop, one nice 29" lingcod. I asked them if they wanted to stay here since there are fish, but one guy said "you caught the only one" and they other guy said "let's go over by the halfday boat." So off to the South we head, right into the 20mph wind. "The Wetspot" was living up to her name...I was nice and dry in my Gortex, except the occasional spray in the face, which I enjoy.

Get there, meter a nice spot of fish and turn around and both of these guys looked like they had been hanging out at a broken fire hydrant. Drop lines and one is snagged instantly. The other hooks and looses his fish. Break off and go back up onto the meter marks. Nothing, nothing, nothing...finally one says, "No fish here" and stops fishing to eat some soggy wet donuts. I grab a rod and fish in his spot (got to keep lines in the water to catch fish, I think?) and before I even hit bottom fish on. Nice 3lb sandbass. Drop again, another 2lb sandbass. 3 drops, 3 fish for me. Drop 4 nothing for we move back.

They both fish for nothing on two drifts. Then the no fish here comments come out and they want to move again. They are strategizing on what possibilities exist based on travel direction and decide to move out to rockfish spot to West. Not too bad a ride, kind of slow, get there and they drop.....nothing, nothing, nothing. The other guy decided to eat a soggy ham sandwich so I grab a rod. Drop 5, one nice 4lb vermillion rockfish. 5 drops, 4 fish for me.

So far, one of them has gotten bite once but lost the fish. One of them finally gets a small rockfish...too short to keep...and they want to move again. We get there and both of these guys have pooched cuffs on the bottom of their pants...I realize the cuffs are full of water. Hmmmmm.....some rain gear MIGHT have been a good idea. They take about 10 minutes and 2 towels each to damp off each other, I drop and one small rockfish, too short to keep. They both watch me fish for a while but neither of them grabs the other rod to fish.....they decide there are no fish there, and want to go back by the halfday boat. One of the guys comment about "getting a raincheck on this fishing trip" even though there was no rain.

By the time we get there, neither one cares about fishing anymore, they might not have cared from the start. I drop down and get another nice sandbass. I ended day with 8 or 9 drops and 5 fish in the cooler. It was only about 11 am and they were ready to head more dry towels on the boat. I cleaned the fish outside the jetty, content to watch two drippy old farts shiver in the 25mph wind, when I could have gone between the jetties and spared them a little. I gave them the fish and watched as they left wet snail trails up the dock ramp and off to their cars. I was polite enough to not even smoke a cigarette in the boat the entire morning...for what?? They never even said goodbye.

Maybe it had something to do with my last comment of "If you wanted to fish nice and dry by the half day boat, you should fish on the half day boat." Luckily, I got my $160 at the boat dock BEFORE we left. Yippee little Miss Wetspot!

Anyway, the boat was clean and I was napping by 2pm. My Dad decided he didn't want to go today, after hearing the conditions, so I guess I get to clean up some reels today and list a few things on EBAY. The wind from straight south to north and a very mixed swell created the "Perfect Washing Machine" out there yesterday. Good day not to have been on the water, good day to at least not have decided to leave the rain gear behind.

An awesome story and I thank Richard (and John Elder who sent it my way). Really now. Some people!

-- Dr. Todd

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