Over the years my charter business has become busier and busier. My clientele might even be a bit different from others in the Charter fishing industry.
I was told when I started, that the preferred clientele are those from the corporate world. They have the money and they throw you a bit extra after a good day of fishing. Sounds great, but after 6 years in service, I am not so sure that’s the type of people I get calls from. Instead I seem to cater more for families, and friends. Less suit and tie and more folks who work hard, but value a little time away from their 9-5 or night shift working for “The Man”.
My groups are often about the experience and not about impressing a hosted corporate client. Don’t get me wrong, I think the corporate guys could enjoy my service as well, but because for me its about fishing, and not about pampering, I don’t think I have what they want.
I like to think I have folks with good “Work Ethics” and recognise the benefit of having quality time fishing with friends and family. If I was to further describe the type of clients I have would be that they are respectful, grounded, and expect only a nice time on the water with or without a boat load of fish.
There are so many stories of hard working folks I have shared the boat with. They soak up the experiences of watching the sun rise, the sound of the drag on a reel buzzing with a big fish, and the trill of seeing that fish in the net hit the floor of the boat. It’s the weekend, it’s a fishing trip to remember, its time shared with those people who mean more than a corporate account on the ledger. High fives, sometimes kisses and hugs, and ‘dat-a-boy’ echoes on every trip.
Three years in a row I have had the privilege of having Charlie out fishing with his son Samuel. Sam’s new name is “Salmon Super Fan Sam”. Charlie contacted a Harvey Velix the President of the Golden Horseshoe Outdoors Club in Hamilton. They knew each other from working at LiquidAir in Hamilton. Charlie drives truck and makes deliveries all over Southern Ontario but lands home each night to balance, the best he can, family time. Charlie contacted Harvey because he had a bad experience walking along the Charter boat dock at some other marina, and was asking if there would be a charter boat that he can take him and his son Sam out fishing for the day. Totally understand that a big charter boat wouldn’t pull off the dock without a hefty cost associated, but Charlie felt a bit of a cold shoulder. Maybe had he shown up in a suit and tie it would have been a different response?
Harvey referred Charlie to me and for that I am grateful. The first trip we shared was in 2014 when we launched on an afternoon trip in August out of Hamilton Harbour and ran nearly 18 miles before dropping lines. We caught a bunch of fish and Charlie was surprised and Sam was completely converted into a Salmon fishing Super Fan.
In 2015 we departed from Grimsby, but the Northeast winds made the lake a little bumpy. We ran into the waves upwind and trolled “down hill” back towards Grimsby. In the first 20 minutes we hook-up with a decent fish. Sam was on the rod working the fish to the boat and we slide the net under the fish and scoop it up. Sam’s smile was ample, Charlie was also ecstatic and was so proud of Sam’s catch. We placed the fish in the fish box and continued trolling when Charlie fell ill. At first we thought seasickness so we wrapped up our trip early and headed in. When we got to dock he apologised over and over again to Sam for cutting this short. Sam is a good kid (respectful, using good judgement and the opposite of spoiled) took it in stride and was still on cloud 9 with his biggest fish he had ever caught, in the box.
We drove up to Grimsby Tackle and put the fish on the scales. It weighed 20lbs 4 oz and was good enough to win the St Catharines Game & Fish Summer Derby Youth division.
Before they drove home Charlie was feeling a bit better and he explained that he has been working far too much. Waking up at 2 am to get home for dinner time. He works 6 days a week and felt bad that he was so burnt out. It wasn’t seasickness, it was fatigue that caught up with him. He knew in the morning leaving the dock that he was exhausted, but wanted Sam to enjoy a simple day of fishing.
I am a Huey Lewis and the News fan and this is a great song about the working class that the corporate world might not understand. The last verse is exactly what Charlie books his fishing trip to share with Sam. It goes like this,
Before you know it the kids are all grown
And married off with kids of their own
And it's all in the past
It's as simple as that
... YouTube Huey Lewis and the News
On July 17, 2016 Charlie and Sam were ready. Charlie got a call from work on Friday evening and using his words “don’t do this to me, I had this planned a month ago”. It turned out to be just a question, but you can tell Charlie’s work ethic and being at their beck-in-call must be a privilege of the company. We set off at 6 am and it felt like in no time we had 17 fish in the boat, Sam’s second biggest fish at 20 lbs 1 oz (only 3 oz shy of last year’s fish) and with a two man limit of delicious salmon in the box by 9 am. The lake was flat and we had time, so I didn’t mind cleaning the fish for them so they can enjoy their afternoon and maybe have one on the BBQ for dinner when they get home. Besides making a mess of the kitchen counter wasn’t exactly what Charlie’s wife had in mind.
Sharing stories, Charlie described his experience bumping into Johnny Bower while shopping. This was only a month after Gordie Howe had passed and Charlie knew they were buddies that would go fishing together during the off season. Charlie described how Mr. Bower was approachable, and easy to have a chat with. 90 years old, a hockey legend and not unlike many of yesteryear’s hockey players, they are respectful, and truly understand hard work.
We were dockside a little earlier and Charlie was happy to shorten the day and have about 30 lbs of salmon fillets in the cooler to take home. Salmon Super Fan Sam maintains his nick name.
Corporate Clients or fellow family members and friends, it doesn’t matter, as long as the time is less about pamping and more about quality time together fishing, It’s as simple as that.