Offshore Fishing…The Ultimate Team Sport, Part 1
Offshore fishing is certainly one of the most complex and equally rewarding team sports. It’s a lot more than just baiting a hook and dropping it overboard in saltwater. If you want to be good at it, it requires good communication and team building skills with your crew. It also requires a whole lot of knowledge and wisdom from many diverse fields including weather, seamanship, navigation, at-sea-safety, electronics, and machinery. When you add into trip planning, fishing gear and tackle, bait-rigging, and habitat and species knowledge—you get the picture!! It’s an exciting and complex sport!! Below are listed 2 generic suggestions and a few thoughts on each:
A boat owner/captain is totally responsible for a vessel’s well-being and the safety of its crew. There is a whole bunch of stuff on this topic, but one thing a responsible captain should do before leaving the dock (on every trip) is to provide a few minutes to give a run-down tour of the vessel to the entire crew from a safety perspective. It should also include a shared vision of the day’s plan, including where you intend to go. I know it’s O dark 30, but a well-informed crew can mean the difference between life and death offshore in the case of a medical emergency, an accident, or other fears such as fire and sinking. This exercise also builds confidence and camaraderie among crew members, as every member is a valuable team player. A good leader will show his crew all the safety gear onboard and a little knowledge about what to do in an emergency. This not only includes only where the gear is located but also what to do with it. As a former charter boat captain, I showed my clients where safety equipment was located and how it was to be used— and always educated them on how to make a distress call on VHF, how the gears and throttles operated, how to know a vessel’s position on the GPS, and how to deploy the life raft, EPIRB and halon system. If you operate a larger vessel, especially with a flybridge use my advice—when running at cruise, no one was allowed to roam around on the boat without another crew member watching—period!! Simply peace of mind.
A Mentor is always invited
Do not be shy to increase your skills and knowledge by hiring a professional to assist in the fishing knowledge curve. There are wonderful professional people like Capt. Rod Bierstedt in Wilmington NC, who teaches people in that region to fish. He gets on the boat and goes over all the other complex ropes required to be a successful offshore team tailored to your needs and fishing style. You can also hire a good, experienced charter boat captain to spend a day with you offshore. I guarantee that many fine boat captains will proclaim the importance of a great mentor. Myself included!
Offshore fishing is always an ongoing learning experience. That’s why we keep trying to be better at it. Don’t overlook all the blessings that you will encounter while bonding with the Creator and the crew you are fishing with, “shoulder tap” each crew member and have fun!! So, go hunt. The more you learn, the more you will be amazed at what we don’t know, but you will always be amazed at God’s many blessings. That’s the incentive to do it and do it well!!