On the Water: Graduation present and future memory

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X Sheridan and Savanna show off their catch aboard Afishinado’s GUSTO! Courtesy photo

The call came through with the all to familiar question, “Can one angler join a fishing trip with others in Avalon?” The simple answer is, “No, there are no open party charter boats operating here.” Sometimes the simple answer is just not good enough.

The caller was a grandmother who was trying to get her grandson Sheridan a fishing trip to complete a promise she had made to him as a graduation present from Junior High School. Such promises are not made lightly. Grandma was persistent.

When I started Afishinado Charters in 2003 I thought I could offer such open party trips in addition to our private fishing charters. I figured that there might be a market for open party trips in Avalon.

I was wrong.

I recall a couple of guys asking me to put their names down just in case another couple called with a similar request to join another group. Sure enough I got a call within a couple of hours and put them together to form a charter. Easy.

On charter day I pull up to load my four customers, the two guys and a father with a seven-year-old. “This might be a problem, or it might not,” I optimistically thought to myself. Luck of the draw. The Dad was fully into fishing and not much into helping his boy learn to fish. The boy was immediately bored and started acting out, playing with the bait and messing with the gear; pretty much doing what kids do if they had sugar for breakfast.

One of the two guys tried helping the kid, but it was more out of kindness than a genuine desire to help the child out with some teaching. The charter was pretty much a dud.

I wrote it off and tried to build an open party charter for another set of couples, this time insisting that we make the charter an adults-only trip. “No problem!” was their enthusiastic response.

When I pulled up the next morning to go fishing, half the party was a no-show. I ended up running the charter at half-price. Definitely not worth the effort. Grandma got the point, and quickly switched to asking questions about how to deliver her promise to her grandson. “You have a few choices,” I shared. “You can rent a boat from Joe on the pier or you can charter Gusto for the minimum three hours.”

“And,” I suggested, “You and the family should join and enjoy the sights. Make it a family outing.”

I always suggest this to folks calling to put their child on to a boat for some fishing. I know it is more fun to go with family, and I know that we can make it fun for all. I have never gotten a bad review after delivering such a trip. “My 9-year-old grand-daughter will hate it,” Grandma countered, “She does not like hurting things.”

I have had this issue before, and I know it can be tricky. However, a boat trip around Catalina Island to see all the wildlife is usually more impactful than the feelings of a hooked squid. The granddaughter, named Savanna, decided to join the charter.

It was a good day for such a trip. The Bonito were on the lee side of the island and in a mood to bite. Sheridan hooked his first ocean fish. His excitement was contagious, having succeeded at his first attempt.

He soon hooked another. Pictures were taken and the fish was released. This seemed to get Savanna’s attention. Her brother was having a blast, he was getting his picture taken and none of the fish were being hurt.

Capt. Charlie passed through a school of fish and two rods bent over, a double. It did not take long for Savanna to step in to fight one of the fish. It would not be her last. She was elated. She loved it. She wanted more. An angler was born!

By the end of the trip both kids were sharing stories of their success and there were even a few Bonito ‘harvested’ for dinner. Grandma was elated, her promise had blossomed into a full-blown family memory captured by Mom taking pictures. A five-star trip.

Capt. John runs Afishinados Charters and Catallac Tours – john@afishinados.com – 888-613-7770.

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