Capt. John McMurray
Let me be clear.. While I embody a deep love of fishing, the charter fishing business is, well, a business. And in the end, if I don’t make a certain amount of money each year, then I’ll have to get a “real job,” as my parents used to call such a thing when I began my pursuit of a life on the water.
The truth is that, financially anyway, guiding is probably THE dumbest business in the world. Overhead is crazy (and getting progressively worse) and there are so many variables, I can’t begin to describe them here. Yeah, some years I crush it, but most, I’m just tryin’ to squeeze by. The point is that every trip counts, unless you’re a part-timer pretending to be a guide because you think it makes you one of the cool kids.
Thus, when one of my clients calls or texts me the night before a trip and wants to cancel because of a little rain in the forecast, steam starts coming out of my ears.
I have to capitulate and act like it’s OK. I mean, you can’t make people go, and ultimately you want them to book with you again. But I can assure you that it’s not OK! As soon as I hang up the phone, I’m letting loose a barrage of expletives that would burn out your ear hairs. While sometimes I can make a few calls and rebook the open slot, most of the time I can’t. It’s infuriating for a number of reasons.
The first and obvious reason is the lost income, particularly when it’s during the heart of the season and I could undoubtedly have booked that day with someone who wasn’t a wuss. In a precarious business like this one, if you really want to make a go of it, you really need to fish every day that it’s doable.
But, while I kinda hate to admit it here, a bigger reason this pisses me off is more about FOMO. That’s “Fear Of Missing Out,” for those unfamiliar with millennial acronyms.
I mean, come on, anyone who’s been fishing for more than a few years understands that overcast/rainy conditions are the best fishing ones. And for a topwater junkie like me, it’s the perfect scenario. When I’m not out on such days, a little piece of my soul dies. Overdramatic? Maybe, but it doesn’t make it untrue.
Seriously, it hurts to not be out on a good day. And if you have chop-busting buddies like mine, they will most certainly turn the knife and let you know that you’ve missed what was “the BEST topwater day of the year,” where there were monster fish crushing topwater plugs on every cast. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. You believe it. (Of course, I’m obligated to do the same to them when they miss a day too. This is the way, young ones.)
Um, Rain Gear?
“What the hell? You’ve never heard of that stuff you wear that repels rain and keeps you at least somewhat dry? What? You don’t have any? Well, I have some you can use! And hey, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I read on the interwebs somewhere that if you do get a little wet, you likely won’t melt.” Which is what I want to say in response. But I can’t. Although, I guess I’m saying it here.
Fishing is an outdoor sport where you’re on the water, exposed to the elements, and ideally enjoying that exposure while being a living active part of your surroundings (i.e. hunting fish). Yeah, you may experience some moderate discomfort as real rain sometimes finds ways through your rain gear, but come on dude, it is part of that experience. An important part. Embrace it! Don’t shy away from it. Full-send!
Seriously, if you’re afraid of a little rain, maybe take up pickleball or some other lame-ass sport that isn’t likely to hurt your delicate disposition.
Lastly, I wanna scream… “Lose my number!” Just kidding. I still really need your business, so please just schedule another date.
Silver Linings and Life Lessons
Yeah, getting cancelled on sucks, although it’s particularly irritating when it’s because of a little rain. But, while I can never get that money back, there is a silver lining. It is my son, who is now 14 years old. Unlike those who cancel because of rain, he actually has a pair, and doesn’t mind a little bit of wet stuff coming from the sky, so he’s just about always down to go whenever someone bails on me.
And usually, because of, rather than in spite of, those rainy overcast conditions, it’s dope fishing! And maybe it’s just me trying to rationalize things, but I often come off the water thinking that I’m glad I didn’t waste a good day on someone who maybe didn’t deserve it (insert no-guts-no-glory, or whatever cheesy cliché might fit here).
He was 7 the first time I took him because of a rain cancellation. And that was an epic day! It was literally raining sideways, but he stuck a 25-pound fat striper on a topwater plug and landed it nearly all by himself. I will never forget it, and my guess is that neither will he. Since then, there have been plenty of other real good days because of such cancellations. And while, yeah, I take a financial hit, it always seems worth it.
Maybe, one day when I’m buried under six feet of dirt he’ll remember me and such days fondly. Or maybe he’ll be telling a psychiatrist about how he had to indulge his crazy-ass dad who took him fishing in the rain all the time. Who knows?
But maybe, just maybe, through all of that, I’ve taught him that being a wussy and being scared of the uncomfortable means that you miss out on some of life’s most extraordinary and precious moments. While I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on life, I do know that this is so freakin’ true, not just in the context of fishing, but with pretty much everything. Life favors the brave. Just not the stupid.
So, hey, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t be scared homie. It’s just a little rain. LFG!!! (That’s “Let’s Freakin’ Go,” for those unfamiliar with millennial acronyms. )
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