We Don’t Always Get it Right – Fishing Guides and the Weather

TJ Cheek General 3 Comments

Today I experienced something that commonly happens in the guide business. Actually, it was two things;

  1. I had someone call while I was out fishing, complaining that their captain (a friend of mine) cancelled their trip.
  2. I cancelled my afternoon due to weather and my customer was pretty ticked.

My Story for Today

Now, it’s obvious that to do this for a living I actually have to run the trips I book. If I don’t fish, I don’t get paid. With that being said, I don’t want to take people out in unsafe or “un-fun” conditions.

This morning I had a father with two older teens on the boat. I explained the sea conditions, offered an alternative to the trip we had planned, and they were happy to spend the morning fishing even it it wasn’t the ideal situation. I also had a two hour kids trip planned for this afternoon with a 7 year old.

The wind was blowing very hard making fishing in the ocean all but impossible. While I was out on my first trip I noticed storms building over the mainland and moving toward the northeast. I looked at the radar and saw that even more storms were building to our southwest. I had my wife Katie call my afternoon customers and let them know that we might not be able to fish.

The longer we stayed out, the darker the clouds got. The storms continued to grow before my very eyes. Toward the end of my morning trip I decided it was best to cancel. The last thing I wanted to do was to have a  7 year old out in rough conditions with storms brewing all around us. What if the rain storms turned into thunderstorms? It has happened to me enough to know that caution is the best way to go.

We cancelled the trip, disappointed a 7 year old, and made one mother pretty angry. It breaks my heart for the kid because there was a point in time where I too was 7 and was beside myself when my dad told me the weather was too bad to fish. I didn’t understand back then and I remember the feeling well. I hate cancelling on any customers, but especially kids.

It turned out that the storms began to fall apart and the remnants moved inland despite the earlier northeast trend. We could have safely fished as long as we stayed away from the ocean. I know that I turned out being wrong, but at the same time I made the right call. More often than not I will get it right and keep my customers out of the nasty conditions so that they can live to fish another day… not to mention keeping a 7 year old from being terrified about ever getting on a boat again.

It’s a bummer, but if the weather man can seldom predict the weather correctly, how can a fishing guide be expected to? We take the information we have, the experience we have gained after years of fishing and living in coastal weather, and make the best call possible. I hate to be wrong, but it happens.

My Buddy’s Story of the Day

Now for my buddy’s story. He had an offshore trip booked. The forecast was calling for nasty, nasty conditions and the weather buoys offshore confirmed the forecast. He was willing to give it a fair shot because his anglers were OK with dealing with rough seas.

After leaving the dock they were heading out through the channel and getting beat to pieces. Everyone in the boat was soaking wet, waves were spraying over the T-Top, and my buddy decided it was best to turn around.

Let me tell you what this means for him… gas burned, bait wasted, ice wasted, time wasted, and money lost. He was willing to risk all of that to do his best to provide these adventurous customers with a day of fishing. It’s not a good way to get ahead in business, but he did his best for the customer… even though it took food off if his own family’s table.

After returning, his customers found my phone number and called us. They were pretty ticked off that they didn’t get to fish and were trying to find anyone that would take them. Every offshore guide around here knows that my buddy made the right call. He didn’t risk his their safety just to catch some fish and make a buck. No one else is going to take that risk either.

To sum it up, he made the right call for his morning trip, and I made the wrong call for my afternoon trip. We both got some mud on our face for it. The moral of the story is that even though we try to make the right call every time, sometimes we are wrong, and even when we are right it doesn’t always save us from getting a black eye.

Here’s to better weather, better fishing, and happier days.

Life is good!



Comments 3

  1. Capt, TJ, yes you did make the right call and so did the offshore fisherman. I fished this morning and kept getting closer to Brunswick trying to find calm waters! This is a tough business and if folks do not understand that the captain has to make a call, then they need to play golf or go bowling!!

  2. TJ, I bought a boat last year. My kids and I plan to fish someday’s and when I get up and check the weather…. I decide not today. They get upset because they see pic’s of the days catch. I tell them, Fishing is suppose to be fun. As an inexperience boat owner I refuse to take a risk I’m not comfortable with. I tell them, the fish will be there tomorrow. With you being an experienced Capt., If you said conditions were not good…. I would trust your judgment. I also know as the professional that you are, you would offer an alternative date to suit everyone’s calendar. I picture the people that are upset with you guys as GOOGANS.

  3. Having fished all my life in freshwater and using a guide service once a year, about 10 years ago I started fishing saltwater and have been hooked every since. I say that to say this, those guys with your buddy are idiots. I know they’re paying customers, but still idiots. If your guide says it’s unsafe, it’s unsafe. Once in the last 20 years we drove 5 hrs to Westpoint. Lightening was cracking everywhere and it was raining buckets. The guide showed up and said he would fish if we wanted to. I’ve never used that guide since, even though I caught fish with him in the past. I drove 5 hrs back home knowing, we the customers made the right call that morning. Thanks for your updates I enjoy the site.

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