On The Hook: As-you-go charter fishing

BILL WALSH

The economic world is changing right before our eyes. Prices for goods and services that once were apparent are now shrouded in extra costs that are added on the tab piecemeal.

Want a good example; take a airline flight; on just about any carrier; going anywhere and you’ll see what I mean. It’s kind of like the old days when you went to buy your first car at the advertised price, only to be confronted by the salesman’s manger at the final purchase approval, asking if you’d like tires on the vehicle; of course, at an additional price.

So it was on an flight north to see the kids this summer on an unidentified airline that we ran into the nickel and dime routine. The basic fare was reasonable, even very affordable, that is until we got to the ticket window.

“Are you taking a suitcase” was the first shot from the agent.

Wanted to say “No, I’m going to live in these duds for the week” but bit my tongue in deference to the Mrs. and admitted to one medium size hang up.

“That’ll be $25.00 extra” spouted the agent. He wasn’t finished, however.

“Would you like a seat on the flight” followed quickly.

“Can I stand?” was the response with my level of annoyance showing.

With an negative to that question, I settled on a wedge seat (middle seat) somewhere in what they considered steerage with an additional charge of $25.00. And in flight, the nickel and dime show continued; $3 for a bottle of water; $2 for a bag of nuts and on and on.

Bottom line, the final price was light years away from the basic advertised price.

Got to thinking; suppose we ran charter fishing trips the same way. Let’s have some fun and go through a hypothetical charter fishing trip using the same cost logic.

ASG (as-you-go) Charters sets up a major operation here in SW Florida and floods the market with a ad that features a half day of fun on the water for $200. Anglers are enticed with the seemingly bargain basement price; even less than a drive-it-yourself rental boat.

The Farkel family down here from the Pacific Northwest bites on the ad and schedules a trip. There are four Farkels; mom, dad and two boys, Ethan and Albert.

Captain Fred Fairplay greets them at the dock; welcomes them aboard and explains the per item pricing to the stunned Farkels.

“You have a mileage limit of 8 miles on this trip. Any additional miles will be charged at $5.00 per but the 8 miles usually is enough for a nice backwater trip. Shrimp that you use will be charged at $.25 per shrimp and any rigs that you lose will be assessed at $.75 per rig; jigs will be charged at $1.75 per lost jig.”

Just getting wound up, Captain Fred continues. “We have bottled water in the cooler for you at $1.00 a bottle and we have kid’s crackers available at a reasonable $1.50 at package”

Captain Fred asks if there are any questions; the Farkels are speechless. Never having fished salt water before and hearing the pricing they have visions of their 401K taking a major hit.

And finally, “If you should happen to lose one of my rods and reels over the side, it will be a $200 charge on your bill. Sit back and enjoy the trip”

As they reach the first fishing spot, Ethan and Albert are gong-ho; Mom is pensive and Dad is panicked “How much am I into here?”

It didn’t take long to find out. First spot was in the Crescendo Pass, notorious for hordes of small hungry trash fish.

Every cast from the two boys draws a strike, a catch and a used shrimp. Ethan and Albert are thrilled even with the tiny grunts and pigfish; Mom is ambivalent and Dad sees charges rolling up as quick as he can count them. Captain Fairplay has a electronic counter on his belt where he adds in each and every cost; it’s “ching, ching” endlessly.

After 45 minutes of non-stop catching and baiting, Dad speaks up: “Captain FairPlay, can’t you take us somewhere where we can catch some bigger fish. The kids are tiring of the 5” monster fish here”.

“Can do, Mr. Farkel. We’ll go up into the backwaters and work the mangroves for some snapper and redfish” responded Captain Fairplay. “But have to warn you there are lots of skeeters up there now; we’ll have to provide you all with some mosquito repellent”

“Oh, lord; how much is that” uttered Mr. Farkel.

“Reasonable; only $1.50 per person” was the response. Mr. Farkel just hung his head and waved his hand.

Old Captain Fairplay was right; the skeeters where just waiting for some fresh blood. The salt marsh mosquito squad acted like the lunch wagon arrived despite the repellent spray soaked on the Farkels. There was definitely more squatting than catching for the next half hour. Bad news the kids didn’t catch any fish; Good news didn’t lose any shrimp either.

Finally, Dad asked the Captain to take them somewhere where the kids weren’t being eaten alive and where they could catch some reasonable size fish.

Captain Fairplay was quick to respond: “That’s on the nearshore reefs but that will take you over your eight mile limit”

Mr. Farkel, exasperated, countered with “Who cares, we’re so far into this thing now, who cares?”

So off they went to the reefs and on went the clicker with used shrimp and lost rigs. They had some bigger fish success here with four nice size snapper. Ethan and Albert were pleased as punch with their keepers and talked about having them for dinner.

Final coup de grace as they tied up at the dock: “Mr. Farkel, be glad to clean your fish. Charge will be $1.50 per fish”

That just about did it, Dad said, “You can keep the fish and feed ‘em to the pelicans. Just give me my bill; unless there is a charge for that also”

Makes you think, huh ? Maybe one of the airline moguls will call Captain Fairplay to go on a fishing trip?

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 dawnpatrolcharters@compuserve.com.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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