by Mike Jespersen
If you're an avid offshore angler, you've had an experience with another boat that has put a damper on what would have been an awesome offshore day. I know that I have....multiple times.
I'm having a great day fishing....got a stop going.... one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, they are coming over the rail like trout at the Sport Show. Bottom line is that it is "GAME ON!" and we're going for it. I've spent $50 in dead bait and got my guys all tuned in to keep the school of tuna at the boat so that we keep the school fed and the rods bent. Controlled bloody chaos. Just what everyone is looking for. Then it happens......
Duh-nuh. Duh-nuh. Duh-nuh,Duh-nuh,Duh-nuh,DUH-NUH,DUH-NUH,DUH-NUH...... Is that boat heading our way? What's that guy doing? Are YOU SERIOUS!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Screeches of terror followed by blood pressure going through the hard top, and the next thing you know, your beautifully orchestrated stop is done.
What happened? One minute you are enjoying fish at the boat readily taking iron jigs, swimbaits, live bait, or dead bait, and the next moment you are looking at a blank screen and the guys on the back deck are looking at each other like school kids wondering what to do next. The Party Crasher
has arrived and killed your buzz, effectively ending everything you spent time building. Tears are spilled, weeping on the deck ensues, and the captain with a look that could split rocks with a glance throttles up and moves on, in search of a new stop to get started. Yeah, it really is like that. Until you have experienced the horror that is a Party Crasher
, you really don't know what it is like. You've spent hours getting ready, two hours traveling offshore to a blank canvas, and then time prepping your work to get ready for business.....and then you've managed to get in a groove....only to have some unknown entity destroy your fragile house of cards. The true pain comes with the knowledge of how difficult it is to get to the point where you have "IT" going on, only to have someone else tear it down. Frustrating, no...maddening. There is nothing in river fishing that I have ever experienced like it. A blocked slot, an overzealous chalk of the anchor, a close troll.....all irritating, without doubt. But a Party Crasher 40 miles offshore..... C'mon!
Then it dawned on me, and some of this had to do with personal loss and a redirection of what is "really" important, that I spend a lot of time offshore. I happen to be fairly proficient at what I do. Let's face facts... people that fish in my area know who I am, and know my boat. In the emerging fishery that is offshore fishing in the Northwest, people that know what they are doing are "known". Might as well say that they are marked. As frustrating as losing a stop is, the fact that you are a good enough fisherman to develop a stop and work that stop is pretty impressive. Now I won't be silly and state that there is a Zen attitude that goes along with tuna fishing and that anyone that is proficient enough to do well should accept the fact that others are going to target them as a focal point of their day....but maybe I'll just subtlety suggest it. The truth of the matter is that though we have an abundance of very talented, very knowledgeable anglers in the Northwest, only a fraction of those go offshore. Where it is common knowledge in other locales to understand that there is in fact etiquette to fishing 40 miles offshore, in the Northwest, many are so new that they just don't know any better. It become reasonable to understand that to the novice, the idea that if they get "sort of close", they too can get in on the success that another boat is having. Would 50 yards away be too close in the river? Not a chance. If an angler is accustomed to a hog line, or a close troll at Oregon City, why would they think that shouting distance is too close offshore? The rules of the game have changed, but who told them the rules?
I will submit that I've had days that others have "ruined" my trip and I have got bent out of shape. I've had the One Stop Shop
set up and going with customers only to have it interrupted by the Party Crasher
and had to spend the rest of the day looking for fish. In my scenario the upsetting factor has always been that I have paying customers and that someone else has impacted the opportunity that they have had. In the case of the private guy, it is that they only have a number of days offshore each year, and a lost day is heartbreaking. Frustration is pretty evident back at the dock.
But.... And here is the big but that I have had to contend with... Perhaps my day was not "ruined". Perhaps, just possibly if I look at the scenario with a different perspective, the successful angler should look at the Party Crasher
as a sign that they are doing what others aspire to do. In the world of Offshore Fishing in the Northwest the elite anglers are rarely the professional anglers running charters, but the very elite private boats. In the Northwest most serious anglers know the names of all the very best guides on the rivers. In the ranks of the "best" fisherman, the good private guys are respected just as much as the best guides. When it comes to Offshore Fishing in the Northwest, the best private guys are the most often the ones that are leading the way.
I'll be the first to admit that I've felt others have "ruined" my day by disrupting what I was trying to do. I know that I could have done better as far as fish counts go had someone else not interfered with my day. It is a different world, and a different set of rules that we play by offshore. At the same time, I have come to the conclusion that it is ok, and that when my customers and myself are experiencing some of the greatest fishing that we have ever seen in the Northwest, feeling that someone else has ruined my day is silly. We are in the midst of a fishery that is expanding exponentially, and there are some tough lessons to be learned. A few short years ago my day might have been ruined by someone else crashing my party....now....well, it is bothersome, but how can my day be ruined by participating in the most exciting fishery in the Northwest in decades?
If you are a blossoming offshore fishing fanatic, take time to learn the ins and the outs of fishing with other boats. The rules of the road that you have learned inshore may seem like they are appropriate, but the reality is that they may not. If you are an offshore boater that has honed the craft to near perfection..... Well, we're all still learning. As frustrating as it is to have someone else shut down what you have built up...take yourself back a few years and try to realize that most people that are not doing something negative on purpose, but probably just learning themselves. A few years ago it might have been you with just blue cord and clones.....