When your job is to spend a day in a boat fishing with strangers, you have a few stories to tell while lying in bed at night with your wife.
"This is my dream job," said a handful of anglers on my boat this summer.
"You call this work?" another smirked.
I am here to tell you, it ain't all fun and games, especially with the new crop of anglers just getting their first taste of the salt.
Five years ago when someone booked me for a charter, I never asked if they had their own rod and reel or if they were okay with wading. It was a given, whoever booked me knew they needed a solid baitcaster and wading attire to traverse the brine of Matagorda.
Times they are a changing.
Now, people who step on my boat rarely bring their own tackle and most would rather have a rectal exam than step off the gunnels of my boat and wade-fish.
With this new crop of anglers comes a lesser proficiency for higher-order thinking on the water. Lessons of how to creep a Bass Assassins across a pile of shell or walk-the-dog in a frenzy of finger mullet have been replaced by tutorials of how to flip the bail on a spinning rod and where to hook the shrimp.
I guess you can call that job security.
Many anglers on my boat acknowledge I deal with a lot of nonsense from rookie anglers and have asked me on several occasions to tell them some of the funniest stories on the boat.
Here are a few recent ones:
If my good friend was sleep-walking from 10 consecutive days on the water, he certainly was awakened by the first cast of the morning. The big, burly, East Texas native's first heave of the popping cork hit my buddy in the head with the one ounce lead weight. Then, as the cork hit the water, he pronounced his hook and leader had flown off. It flew off all right, right in the back of the neck of the captain, who then grabbed a pair of pliers and ripped the treble from his skin.
A week ago while fishing with live shrimp, fishers on my boat were catching hardhead catfish on every other cast. Normally, I would pick up and move when these nuisances move in, but we were also catching a nice speckled trout about every fifth cast, so I stayed put.
Since hardheads carry a toxin-rich barb on their dorsal and pectoral fins, I remove the hook myself with a pair of 10-inch pliers so not to endanger anglers on my boat.
Well, as I flipped the pesky eight-inch catfish off the hook, it fell in the floor of my boat. As I reached with the pliers to pick it up and toss it overboard, I see a right foot rare back in field goal fashion and boot the little bugger overboard.
I gave him a crazy look as I examined his opened-toed sandals.
"Dude, let me get those, those fins will stick right in your foot and ruin your day."
"It did," he said, as blood began to pour from near his big toe.
Then there are the questions we hear that leave us shaking our heads.
"Why are some of the shrimp larger than others?"
"Why don't you have two motors on your boat?"
"Can I have a try at cleaning the fish?"
"Do you have a bathroom on the boat?"
The best tale comes from another dear friend of mine.
My buddy had an attorney from Houston who called saying his boys were 12 and 14 and he really needed to get them outdoors to start teaching them there is life outside the concrete jungle. When they arrived it was evident the captain would have his hands full.
Winds were blowing brisk, so the captain chose to fish the protected waters of the Diversion Channel since it was obvious the two boys still were suffering the awkwardness of adolescence.
The captain anchored in the channel and tossed an offering of live shrimp under a popping cork. Two casts in to the session, the 14-year-old fell off the bow of the boat. Mind you, the boat was on anchor with only the slightest ripple of roughness in the water.
About an hour later, the 12-year-old unexpectedly lost his balance and took the plunge. Both brothers, now chilled by the October water, sat shaking while dad caught a few trout.
Dad hooked another fish and the captain went to the bow of the boat and prepared to net the fish. But something sounded weird, the captain kept hearing an unexpected beeping.
As he netted the fish and walked it to the back of the boat to put it on ice, he was stunned to see the 12-year-old forcefully mashing every button on his GPS while asking , "how do you get to the games on this machine?"
Steam poured out of the captain's ears as he unsuccessfully tried to bring the unit back to functionality.
Dad then pronounced it was time to eat their lunch, so he unwrapped three frozen-like-a-rock burritos from the bottom of his cooler.
"Where's the microwave captain?"
"What?" the baffled guide quipped.
"We need your microwave to heat up these burritos."
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).