I was on the phone the other day with a friend and he asked me if I’d be taking a vacation in 2023? “Yeah I hope so,” I replied “I’d love to go somewhere sunny (because Southeast Alaska is cold and rainy) and book a charter fishing trip.” He was surprised by my reply given I run a charter boat and spent countless days last summer catching fish. The conversation moved on but it got me thinking about our motivations to book a fishing charter.
Is it merely to fill the fish box? It can’t be, because economically that doesn’t make sense. When you go fishing, charter or not, there’s never any guarantee you’ll catch one fish let alone enough to fill the freezer. If your sole purpose in fishing was just food, you’d stay at home and order a box of fish online. What strengthens that argument is all those crazy people (and I’m one of them) who just “catch and release” on guided trips.
The answer is, of course, the experience.
Whether you are casting for snook in Florida or trolling for cohos in Alaska you aren’t chasing the fish so much as the feeling. It’s the same feeling of anticipation you felt as kid when you threaded a worm on your hook, then tossed your line and the bobber into the water. You are chasing the same exhilaration you experienced the first time you felt the rhythmic head shakes made by your first fish. On a charter, it’s a combination of using your skill, supplemented by your guide’s local knowledge, to convert the unknown, and unknowable, into a tangible thing, a fish. The transmogrification is a form of magic!
The “tug is the drug”…or it should be. It’s the heady cocktail that flows through your veins as you are fighting any fish. The legitimate fear of losing it mixed with potential triumph of landing it. Optimism and resilience is what we experience when fishing. Just “five more minutes” and “one last cast.” For me, it’s not the fish I landed that I think of at when I am laying bed weeks or months later. It’s alway the fish that got away. The one who’s head I glimpsed 100ft behind the boat, or the massive shadow I saw at the boat before it spat the hook and returned to the deep.
As a fishing addict, the desire connect with a fish in a place I am visiting is always enticing enough get me to book a charter. And that feeling isn’t diminished when I take you out. I’m as eager for you to hook into a fish as you are to catch one!