Bullbuster In Action:

"Capt. Norm's No-No's" Part 2

Author: Bullbuster Team

When the Bullbuster Team purchased the domain for "Big Game Fishing The World"  we thought, there is no way that this could be true.  This was once a legends website. Well, it turned out to be true and today we have restored some of the works of legendary Capt. Norm Isaac's.  We take no credit for what you are about to read but instead insist on honoring a legend who helped shaped our sport. 


In last month's article, I started to compile a list comprising a few of the things that most of us who operate offshore fishing boats (for a living or otherwise) have nightmares about. I'm not referring to unexpected weather or water pumps shooting craps at the worst possible time. Those are things that go along with the territory, and we have to learn to take them in stride or get off the water. What I'm talking about is "people stuff". Not necessarily "the dumb things people do," even though that might occasionally fit. These are things that folks do, generally as a result of simply not having spent much, if any, time aboard a sportfishing boat and really can't be expected to know. The reason for the list is to give the prospective charter patron or guest some insight into black-belt blunders that can be avoided and thereby keep your charter crew on your side instead of the fish's or keep a host inclined to invite you back.

Last month, we touched on shoes, getting aboard and a bit on handling gear, so I'll more or less pick up where I left off. Some customers want to get as involved as much as possible, and some don't. If you want to help your crew when you get hooked up, let them know. If your crew is worth much, they have a routine worked out that gets things squared away as quickly as possible. An unexpected body running around the cockpit breaks the routine and is usually more in the way than anything else. However, if your crew knows ahead of time, they can brief you on what you can do to assist, and they will probably be glad for the help.

For instance, if you are going to crank in one of the lines to help clear the cockpit, be sure to find out what to do with it once it's in. I once had a customer (who I didn't know was going to pitch in until we hooked up) crank in a line, grab the leader and jerk the lure out of the water in an attempt to get it into the boat.

The lure lacked about a foot of clearing the transom and left an exquisite divot in the transom gel-coat (to be fixed in the next dry dock). Plus this "helper" put a chip in the lure and permanently changed the action of the lure, which had been (notice the past tense) a great producer for 10 years. I guess I shouldn't complain, because had the lure not hit the transom, I'm not sure the angler, who was trapped in the fighting chair, could have dodged the set of razor-sharp 11/0 hooks that would have been flying out of the prop wash probably directly at him.

As if we hadn't had enough of a demolition derby already, the helper decided he needed to do something with the rod that was sitting harmlessly in the rod holder, so he lifted it out. Everyone else was busy at that particular second, so while he waited for somebody to give it to (because he didn't know what else to do with it), he firmly planted the butt not on the deck, but in the deck, leaving year another memento for repair at a later date.

A minute or two later, the hook pulled and the fight was over. In less than three minutes, our helper had destroyed a lure, put two dandy hickeys in the boat and endangered the angler, and at this point he still didn't have a clue that he had done anything but help. Had we known he'd wanted to help, we could have spent a minute or two briefing him on what would help the most, which might have been cranking in that same line, and told him what to watch out for in the process.

The Do's and Don'ts

If you want to help, tell your crew. Don't drag lures over the transom; don't put rod butts on the deck. Even though you might be an experienced offshore fisherman, most crews have a routine, so ask questions so you can help without being disruptive.

One last gargantuan goof to watch for: don't try to dazzle you charter crew with your brilliance, particularly if you don't have any. Translation: don't try to convince your crew that you have more experience than you actually have. The crew will have a pretty fair idea of your experience level within about five minutes after you're on board (possibly sooner).

Just so I don't get in a rut with all the "don'ts", I'll fire out a few "do's". When you charter a boat, do feel free to ask all the questions you want. If that upsets your crew, get a different boat the next time and advise your friends which crews to stay away from. Do spend some time talking with your captain before you book, if possible, so you know that he (or she) knows what you expect; plus you'll get an idea of what kind of a personality you might be spending the day with. Sometimes the fish cooperate - sometimes they don't. Only God has a handle on that; but there is no excuse for you to be treated like anything less than a valued customer every time.

In future articles, I'll be continuing to compile a list of "Norm's No-Nos", although I certainly don't have an exclusive on them. Anybody who has taken folks offshore, particularly if they happen to be in the charter business, will have run across some, if not all, of the scenarios I've mentioned so far, plus have a few of their own they could add. At some point, I'll even be delving into the sensitive arena of onboard head etiquette. I just haven't figured a way to say all that I want to say about the subject and still be printable, but I'll worry about that when the time comes.

Tight Lines . . . . . Norm.

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