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Entitlement, Expectation and Education

Fishing Education

sportboat education
Not every day is going to go like this (Photo courtesy of Capt. Kris Karpow, Sea Watch Sportfishing)

Monday last week, when I took my buddy Howard fishing on the Gentleman, I needed to run an errand when I was done. The previous week, I rode the Island Spirit and left my hook binder on the boat. Deckboss Jake Holder recovered it for me and left it with the landing folks for me to pickup.

When we got to Ventura Sportfishing’s landing office, Ed Guyette was at the counter on the phone. Ed was talking to someone who wanted to schedule a trip. I picked up from the conversation that what this person was looking for was a half day trip, to catch tuna, up there in Ventura. Ed had to tell them he didn’t have that trip to sell. “I heard they were doing that in San Diego.” They’re not doing it there in Ventura (not yet at least).

This last weekend, I was back on the Island Spirit for a ¾-day run chasing yellows. When the trip was over, I met my good friend, Liz Vernand, co-owner of Channel Islands Sportfishing for dinner. Over dinner, Liz told me the story of a customer who was supposedly worth $400MM. This customer wanted to entertain an important client. He wanted them to catch yellowtail. He wanted a personal deckhand to take care of him and his client. He wanted to do all of this on a half day boat. CISCO’s actually accommodated his extravagant request. Despite bending over backwards for him, the customer complained that he and his client didn’t end up catching yellowtail.

I posted on my facebook page for crew members to share some of the more interesting customer requests and complaints this year. The word catharsis comes to mind. Captains, crew members and landing personnel from up and down the coast chimed in:

  • “When are you going to get in the nice 4-5” sardines?”
  • “Does this captain know what he’s doing? My friend told me we’d have limits by now.”
  • “I haven’t caught a yellowtail yet. Can you tell the captain I need to catch one still?”
  • “I don’t want to catch anymore yellowfin. Can we catch something else?”

Believe me, there’s a lot more.

fishing education
Those elusive sardines (Photo courtesy of Everingham Bros. Bait Company

Unrealistic expectations and a sense of entitlement seem to be the thread holding these stories together. I want to catch this or that species, and my paying my fare entitles me to have that experience. Anything short of fulfilling my expectation must be someone else’s fault.

boat educationWhile I think it would be cool to shoot a round of golf under par at Augusta, or ride big waves off the North Shore of Oahu, I certainly wouldn’t expect to do these things just because I paid my way to get there. The sportfishing industry attempts to package an experience in nature. Despite the best efforts of the captains and crews Mother Nature is going to have a big say in your experience. In addition to her whims, your success is going to have a lot to do with your skill level. And then even if you are very skilled, it does take a certain amount of luck to achieve your desired outcome.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a boat, especially on an offshore trip, where we stopped on empty kelps all day, only to find the magic one at the end of the trip. I hear people complaining about the captain up to that point, and then all of a sudden the captain is the best ever after that magic stop. Let me let you in on a little secret…they would’ve loved to have that stop at the start and middle of the trip as well, not just the end.

Nothing changed except finding the fish wanting to bite.

I doubt that anyone reading this post would be one of the people coming to the boat with these sorts of expectations, but you probably know someone in your circle of friends who would or does.

Please tell them that when they get on the boat, they’ve bought the opportunity to experience catching some of the top gamefish found in the sportfishing world. That is an exciting opportunity, but that is all it is, a chance to experience something you may remember for years. However, your only expectation should be for the crew to treat you well, keep you safe, and do their best to deliver you the opportunity to catch a fish of a lifetime. If you put in the time, and make the effort, with a little luck it might just happen.

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Joe Sarmiento is the founder and primary writer of the So Cal Salty blog. The blog covers saltwater fishing, primarily aboard the many sportfishing boats of Southern California. In addition to writing his blog, Joe's writing has appeared in Western Outdoor News, The Log and Griffin Media. Joe is the father of Jacob and Juliana, and enjoys cooking and eating his catch.