If you fish you already know all about truisms, defined as a proposition that needs no proof or argument. In other words, the chances of the event occurring amidst your angling activity, is almost a certainty. But the sad reality is that most of us have contracted a form of piscatorial amnesia regarding these truisms that allows us to keep putting our head in the same noose, over and over again.
Thought we share just a couple of the more obvious truisms with a little story to go along with each.
They always wave
It’s a beautiful sunshiny spring day. The water is still a bit chilly but the radiating sun has warmed the early afternoon to an almost summer like bake.
What a day to take to the water and treat the family to a nice relaxing cruise with a little fishing tossed in. You ready the boat as the kids scurry about gathering snacks and tolerating the addition of yet another layer of sunscreen. You hurry along sensing their impatience, with only one reservation about the conditions on the water this beautiful afternoon.
The concern is singular but significant; it’s still “season” here and you and your gang will be facing an entourage of watercraft out there that range from kayaks to lumbering cruisers all bent on the same thing — an unfettered afternoon on the water.
At the helms of these craft will range operators from nautically seasoned to nautically challenged and you have to figure which one is at the wheel of that cruiser that’s heading for your midsection. But you forge on; you’ll be extra careful and try to stay out of harm’s way.
The spring morning has typically brought on some mounting wind and you decide to stay in the river and connecting waterways for your gang’s safety and comfort. Unfortunately, so has everyone else in those kayaks and cruisers.
The first hour or so is enveloped with “love of dolphins” and you spend heartstopping mini-events dodging cruisers that didn’t see you let alone the dolphins you were trying to photograph.
The kids begin to clamor for some fishing action and you find a spot well off the main channel where you can soak a bait or two without a life threatening cruiser encounter. You anchor and commence some nice relaxing fishing action.
Your daughter sees it first. It’s well out of the channel with a bow wake that reminds you of a scene from “Victory at Sea” and it’s heading right for you. You tell the kids to reel up; sit down; and hold on. As this 40’ plus cruiser bears down on you, their captain suddenly sees your anguished faces and slows down — not all the way, mind you, but just enough to double the wake.
You all cringe as the first tsunami size wake hits your boat and as you look up just in time to see the society conclave on the cruiser all waving and smiling at you, just before the second and third surges almost turn you over.
Your cleaning up all the spills and restoring equipment when one of the kids ask the question of the year “Why did they wave?” “Habit!”
How’s the fishing?
It’s the numero uno question that charter people get. You try to be positive, as it’s good for business, but being honest is far more important as it’s better for business and for reputations.
If you’re standing at the cleaning table with a mess of filets, it’s impossible to convey that this is a good catch because we had a good tide and clean water and that could change this afternoon or tomorrow. All the folks see are the fish.
Told this one before but I think it’s worth a repeat: My afternoon charter, a gaggle of French Canadians, arrived very early at the dock and saw another captain cleaning a nice catch of pompano. They were enthralled and asked “Captain Steve” where he got the pompano and were they hard to catch.
Captain Steve, in a moment of exuberance, blurted “They’re right out in the Pass and easy to catch. You’ll get some this afternoon.” The Frenchmen were bubbling with anticipation when I arrived.
“We get le pompano, capitane?” I told them we certainly would try, but that the morning incoming tide has finished and we’re faced with a very weak outgoing tide this afternoon. They didn’t listen. Speaking in their native tongue all I could garner was “le pompano” and a couple of “bon”’s (good).
So off we went. Me with grave doubts and they with grand expectations. There were four of them and they were all set up with the top-of-the-line small pompano jigs, tipped with shrimp and we started our drift in Capri Pass. The tide was not only weak, it was virtually non-existant. Our drift went nowhere with the light wind countering what little tide there was.
I mentioned the fact to them. They didn’t listen. All I heard was le pompano and a few more bon’s.
After 20 minutes of the pompano hunt I knew I was in a peck of trouble. The four Frenchmen didn’t catch on for almost an hour.
“Capitane, where are the pompano”?
“They obviously are not going to feed on this weak tide. Let’s go try for some nice mangrove snapper,” I suggested.
“We try some more for the pompano” and back they went to running those jigs back and forth with only an occasional ladyfish strike.
I tried twice again on the mangrove snapper offer. Nothing doing.
Finally, after almost two hours of futile pompano effort, their spokesman came forward with a suggestion.
“Capitane, Captain Steve told us the pompano were here. You should call him and ask him where they are” as he offered me his cell phone.
Dead silence. They knew they pushed the package just a little too far as my color changed from red to crimson to purple.
We finished up with a nice catch of snapper but that was not what they had wished for. They assumed the fishing conditions without listening.
“How’s the fishing?” Ask Captain Steve.
Capt. Bill Walsh owns an established Marco Island charter fishing business and holds a current U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.