A few words from your Captain

You may ask……Why do I charter fish in Sturgeon Bay?

1. The bank reef.

This is a large shelf out on the lake that creates currents and brings in plankton,
which brings in minnows (alewife is a minnow and their food of choice) which brings
in the predator fish (salmon/trout) that we target.
No other port has this bottom structure situated 4 miles off shore. As an example:
if I fish in Algoma, I will motor out of port and set lines and troll east. Where I
set lines and how far east I troll is predicated on where I hear the fish were the day before. It’s just one big bowl, so the fish can be almost anyplace and there is a good chance that where you found fish one day, they will not be there the next.We are so lucky to have the “bank reef “. We can motor out 4 miles and we know that 95% of the time we will be right over the fish. So here in Sturgeon Bay we don’t have to search for fish, we only need to figure out what they want to eat, present it to them correctly and we will be filling the box.

2. Eric Tracy – my First Mate.

I have been blessed to have fished with Eric for 9 years.
This is not the norm, generally mates leave every couple of years. I don’t have to worry about anything except making the customers happy and driving over fish. Eric on the other hand need only worry about bait presentation. He knows I will find fish, I know he will set the table with the right lures at the right depths. So as a team we
consistently catch more fish than other boats.

But over the years I don’t find that this is as important as showing the customers a good time. Do they want to catch fish? Yes, but more importantly they want to have a great time. They are spending a lot of money with us, so Eric and I work extremely hard at making sure everyone has a good time. If they want to crank the music, great!
If they want a later charter, or to stay out later in the evening, great! They pay the freight and we oblige as much as possible.

Our first charter is with clients, but the next time they come they are friends. We probably do dinner out the night before a charter with 60% of our customers, not because they just want to spend money on us, but because they are truly friends.

3. Sturgeon Bay

This city has more to do than any other port in the Door. Restaurants, golfing, lodging, shops, museums, we have it all, so many fishermen bring their mates and turn them loose while we are fishing.

Why do I charter fish?

  • 1. I would fish everyday anyway, and it is expensive. This way I pay the bills and enjoy these trips. Not much difference in fishing my personal boat or my charter boat, I still take out friends, but now they pay a little more.
  • 2. I enjoy people as well as fishing. I now have 500 new people to call friends; the people that have gone out with Eric and I on a charter. I can only recall two charters in 5 years that didn’t go well, and it was always just one person in the group who was an a-hole. These individuals don’t come back, but the groups they were with do, so that says something.
  • 3. Love kids and women fisherman. It doesn’t get any better that taking a kid fishing. I love to help children catch their first fish. There is so much junk out there now for these kids to get into, that in my little way, if I can get them out on the boat, I can unload a little wisdom of my age. Like telling them that probably 98% of their classmates will never be asked by their father to go charter fishing, so maybe he isn’t as bad as they thought. Love to take families for the very same reasons, and women do so well fishing with Eric’s help (they don’t need to know anything about fishing) that they enjoy it as much as everyone else.
  • 4. I suppose there is the competitiveness being a male. Catch more than others, being able to brag a little between boats, but much less of that now than in the early years. I have a very good friend who has chartered many trips over the years. Last year we caught 16 fish in a morning trip and the year before had caught 30 in half the time. On the way in I said “Jim, I’m sorry that fishing was a little poorer this trip.” His response was: “actually, I enjoyed this trip over the last one because we had time to talk, and kid around and relax, instead of filling the box in a couple of hours and then going in early.” So for me it’s more camaraderie than competitiveness now.

In the “off season” I ice fish much more and will probably guide in the winters starting next year. I’ve been doing some volunteer work that makes me feel good too.

Light winds and tight lines…………………………Captain Bill