It’s 3 am, and my whole body hurts. Fishing was tough yesterday, and I’m wondering where in the world I’m going to go today. The bite is rough right now and making a box for my customers has me anxious. So many other things are swirling around in my head, I have 8 deposits unpaid, but where’s the time to call them and confirm the trip? I have 3 broken hatches, 2 reels I need to respool, one broken rod, a list of tackle I need to pick up, an empty tank, and 10 voicemail messages from potential customers I need to reach out to. You see, being a charter guide isn’t all it’s hyped up to be, it is constant work, and the administrative side of the business makes things even tougher. Did I mention my whole body hurts? Ok it’s time for me to get going here.
After a hot shower, and some coffee it’s time to force myself to use the restroom, because it will be a while before I have that opportunity again. Time to check the weather and the tidal movement, … now it’s time to make some sandwiches for my customers, wait how many do I have again? What was it we talked about on the phone recently? It’s tough remembering these things everyday, and every group always has something a little different that they need. Anyways I look through my paper calendar and see there’s three guys today, and I make the sandwiches, and pack the drinks. Next it’s time to hook up the boat and make that zero hour thirty drive to the marina and launch ole betsy.
As I pull up to the marina I see there’s a line at the launch, and forget it’s saturday. The weekend warriors are out and about and have no courtesy to let me get around them, and I wait. Finally it’s my turn to back her in, here I go, me, and I notice something new with my trailer, the back right light is out, so that leaves me with no trailer lights! Awesome! Anyways I tie the boat up and pull my truck out and park and walk back to my boat to pull to the fuel dock. Some brave weekend warrior tells me I was holding him up, so I politely wish him a good day and tight lines and go about my business.
I pull up to the fuel dock and to my surprise gas is now $4.50, so glad my fuel is included and I get to eat that cost even more! I’m thinking maybe it’s time to go to +fuel, but anyways, I digress. As my fuel is finishing pumping, I look at my watch and realize it’s close to 6am when my customers are supposed to arrive. Well, I don’t have their number handy so lets hope and pray they show up, because I don’t have their deposit, and I need this trip to pay my bills. Lucky me, they show up, whew! Turns out they don’t have a lot of experience and have never believed in using artificial baits, so I guess live shrimp it is! Oh wait, here comes the third guy with a giant ice chest, that I have no room for, full of beer, oh fun! Anyways, I walk over to get live shrimp and get 150 shrimp totalling $75! As the customers pay the bill for the shrimp, they tell me they have never seen live bait this expensive! I reminded them that next time we can certainly avoid the expense by using artificials, and they laugh.
We Pull off from the dock and that anxiety hits again, where am I going to take these guys? I have a rough idea, but I’m hoping that the fish will cooperate this morning. Putting out of the marina I’m getting all the questions, as I do everyday, about how long ive been doing this, how deep the water is, is it always this hot, what’s the biggest trout ive ever caught, the list goes on and on. I politely respond as I always do, but I’m just trying to focus on where I’m going to go. Anyways, here I go, it’s time to take off and I remind billy bob and the crew that everyone needs to find a comfortable seat while i’m running, they decide not to, so I mind my own business.
We pulled up to the first stop of the morning, and it was not the one I was intending, but there’s some nice clean water moving around a bend in a bayou that I’ve caught fish at before. I get everyone set up, and give everyone a run down on how to use the spinning reels I’ve provided for them. After a few mishaps, we landed our first keeper trout of the morning. Juju is off the boat, thank god. We put a couple in the box at this spot, but it’s not the school I’m looking for. We bounce around to three other spots with no luck, and that anxiety starts to set in again. And then BOOM, the tide stops, and here I am twiddling my thumbs knowing we aren’t going to catch anything until the tide flips and starts moving again, but we try our little hearts out until then.
As the tide flips I head towards a spot that a fellow guide buddy of mine told me was holding fish. With two fish in the boat, I better hope things change for me or I may never see these customers again. Lucky for me, we get to the spot and catch another 20 keeper trout and then head to the marsh to find redfish. I find some redfish tailing in some grass flats, and we finish off our box with some nice eating size redfish. What started out as a stressful day, finished nicely with 20 trout and 18 redfish.
As we pull back up to the dock, I offload the catch and clean and bag the filets for my customers. Now comes the interesting part, finalizing the payment for the trip, and explaining that 20% is a customary tip for the guide. The guys huddle up and mumble some stuff under their breath, reach in their wallets, and decide $100 is a suitable tip for the day ($800 trip cost). I smile and accept the tip, but in the back of my mind i’m thinking what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Was I an ass? Could I have caught more trout? Did the price of the shrimp factor into it? The anxiety sets in again. I’ve burned 50 gallons of fuel ( @ $4.50 a gal) totalling $247. I have to replace the lights on my trailer, I have hatches to fix and no time to fix them, and I have 10 potential customers I need to call back. And, there it is, my anxiety is back. Oh, and these customers only left me a $100 tip, so that sucks. I have 90 hours since my last oil change, and after my trip tomorrow I’ll be changing my oil, greatttt. Oh, and I have a list of tackle I need to pick up before my next trip tomorrow.
I get home and start wondering if there is an easier way to do all of this? Is there something out there that can make some of these problems a little easier? How can I stay more organized? There has to be a better way.