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Vol 46 | Num 12 | Jul 21, 2021

The Offshore Report Ocean City Report Chum Lines Delaware Report Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
Chum Lines

Article by Capt. Mark Sampson

I overheard a couple of guys talking about the charter fishing captain they had just been out with. They weren't saying anything bad about the fellow, they were just chatting about the way he ran the boat and stuff he talked about. But what really caught my ear was when they started speculating about what they thought was going through the guy's mind throughout the day - what he was "thinking". That's when one of the fellows suggested that the captain was only thinking about catching their fish early so that he could get back to the dock in time for happy-hour.

I'm pretty sure the fellow was joking (at least I hope he was) but, as a captain myself, the conversation made me realize how little our clients know about the kind of stuff that really does go through our heads as we drive them around trying to catch a bunch of fish. So here's a sample of the kind of stuff that runs through our little pea-brains when we're out doing what we do:

While meeting everyone at the dock

"Six guys, four big coolers, three duffle bags, and a spinning rod. Should I scold them a little by using my old line about "I didn't realize we were going on a triple overnighter" ? Naa, they look like nice folks who might take it the wrong way. Hopefully it's not four coolers of beer."

While heading out the inlet

"Looks like another choppy day on the water. I wonder how many of these folks are going to get sick? The guy in the green shirt is already looking a little pale. It might be a long day for him. Hopefully Jack will keep the sick ones out of the cabin."

While on the run out

"I hope it doesn't take half the day to find the fish, it would be nice to make a decent catch early and get the pressure off."

"Is the starboard engine smoking a little?"

"Come lunchtime that barbecue sandwich Susan packed me is going to taste pretty good. I wonder if I can hold out that long?"

"Looks like bait flickering on the surface over there. It would be great to stop here and catch our fish instead of running another 20-miles out! These long runs are beginning to be a pain. Better not get burned out this early in the season!"

"Hopefully we have enough bait in the cooler to get us through both today and tomorrow. The tackle shop at the marina won't be open when we get back, or even before we leave the dock tomorrow. It's going to be a big problem if we run out. Maybe I should tell Jack to put a couple packs of bait on the side for tomorrow and don't change the baits as often for the rest of the day. He's not going to be like that, but it's better than running out of bait tomorrow."

"Darn I'm getting hungry! Maybe I should sneak a look into one of those coolers and snag something for a snack. They'd never miss it. But it would be embarrassing to get caught in the act - I'll have Jack do it."

"Susan really wants me to be home in time for dinner with the family for a change. We'll be in hot water if we have to go running all over town looking for bait this evening. We better not run out."

"Why did that bilge pump light flash? I hope the stuffing box isn't leaking again."

"Not much chatter on the radio yet. Maybe that means we’re one of the first boats out here and not that no one is catching fish. Hopefully that guy who talks so much isn't fishing today. I've about had it with him. If he's out today I'm just going to another channel so I don’t have to listen to him all day."

"Was that a whale blow? Good sign of life in the area but still another 10-miles to go. Really hope we’re not over running the fish. Yikes, I can't imagine what it would do to the boat if we actually hit one of those monsters!"

"Gotta remember to check on what we're being charged for fuel. It would suck if we had to start charging a surcharge on our trips like we did years ago."

While fishing

"Great, we're here. That ride out wasn't too hateful. It actually looks like the seas have calmed down a bit. The face of the guy in the green shirt is beginning to match his apparel. Oh how I hope he stays out of the cabin."

"Darn if it doesn't look like there's a still a little smoke coming out of the starboard exhaust. That's going to be a monkey on my back until we figure out what's going on. Don't need any downtime this time of the year."

Nice bite, double header - all right! If we can land both these fish it's going to take a lot of pressure off for the rest of the day.

"Why is that guy trolling by so close? Is he that inept that he can't see we're hooked-up? I hope Jack can stick them both and get'em in the boat. It's going to be a bloodbath in the cockpit but we need these fish!"

"Great, it's looking like we'll probably have enough bait left over for tomorrow and I'll make dinner just fine. Oh Shoot, we need more hooks and leader material too. Susan is going to kill me! Geeze that guy pukes loud!"

"Two big fish in the boat! OK that’s enough that everyone will be able to bring home a nice couple bags of fish and it’s still early enough that we might be able to put the icing on the cake by landing a couple more."

On the run home

"Three nice fish in the box, if we hadn't pulled off those other two and lost one to a shark we’d really have a stellar catch. Hopefully everyone had a good enough time that they’ll want to come back and fish with us again. They must all be passed out in the cabin from too much “fun in the sun”
"Let's see, who's on the calendar for tomorrow? Oh yeah, Jim Jones, the guy who's always showing pictures and bragging about what a great dog he has."

"Ten more miles to cell phone range. Hopefully there won’t be too many messages waiting for me to follow up on."

"Not looking like the starboard engine is smoking anymore, that’s good. Maybe it was just a stuck injector. Gotta pay attention to that."

"Really? Really?? Just when it looks like there's a chance to make dinner Jack has to tell me that the head is broken. How do I tell Susan that I can't make dinner again tonight because I have to take apart a toilet so our clients can use it tomorrow? Oh she’s going to be fuming!"

"Oh that's just perfect! The bilge pump light again. Probably nothing, but now there’s “one more” thing on the list to check on tonight. The "to-do" list before we go back out is getting longer and the chances for a hot meal tonight is about down to nothing."

"One bar on the phone. Time to see what I missed in the world today. At least calling in for messages on the way home is 100-times better than the old way of waiting to get home and then listening to an answering machine. With any luck I’ll be able to return everyone’s call before I hit the inlet and then be able to devote the rest of the evening to repairing the head. Why do I think the green shirt had something to do with breaking it?"

"Two messages down and two to go, might just get it done before hitting the inlet. Better check the updated weather forecast first. Oh great, looks like it’s going to be really sloppy change!" §

Coastal Fisherman Merch
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