Many clients are envious of our Captains and Mates. They say things like, “you are so lucky you get to fish all year round!” They are not wrong, of course, our crew members love to fish. However, most people don’t get to see all of the work behind the scenes that is required to consistently produce fish for our clients. A successful charter fishing fleet entails so much more than fishing daily. While our past article The “Secret” to Winning Florida Keys Sailfish Tournaments focused on the preparation required for high stakes tournament fishing, this article will focus on what we do day in and day out, year after year, to make sure each trip that leaves our dock has the best chance for success.
When the Summertime Mahi season comes to an end each September, we evaluate all of our vessels and make a checklist of what needs to be repaired before the upcoming winter season. The constant wear and tear of everyday fishing takes its toll on our boats! Once you take a boat out of the water and assess the paint job, for instance, you start to notice chips and dings from leads, hooks, gaffs, and fish. All these little scratches mean lots of sanding, grinding, and painting to make our boats look shiny and beautiful again. Noone likes sanding, grinding or painting in the hot sun, but it is a skill all of our crew members must learn if they plan to stick it out for the long haul. If you are tough enough to see it through, you will likely have a feeling of relief followed by a sense of pride and accomplishment when your beautiful shiny boat is being lowered back into the water ready to fish for another season.
This past off-season, we did a lot of cosmetic work on our new vessel the Main One, getting the boat to Captain Marty’s fishing standards. The 49-foot hull was thoroughly inspected and a plan was made. There was a lot of sanding and painting involved as well as completely replacing all of the teak in the cockpit. We redid all the fish boxes and customized the live wells and a center rocket launcher. Our crews also sanded, grinded, and painted all of the Main Attraction 1 and the Main Attraction 5. Main Attraction 2 was completely redone one year ago and Reel Attraction is still in great shape so they met our standards until the next inspection.
Daily Boat Maintenance
This is extremely important. In addition to the yearly major maintenance on our vessels, each day, the Captain conducts a checklist for the safety and success of the day’s trip. Our Captains check their fluid levels such as fuel, oil, and coolant. They check the engine room and the hull for any signs of potential issues such as water, oil or coolant leaks.
Our Captains also check their pumps and float switches to ensure no wires have come loose and that they are all functional. Hose Clamps are also checked to make sure hoses are securely fastened and in good shape. Our Captains also check that their Radios and GPS systems are operational as mobile phones can not be relied upon when offshore.
Saltwater takes its toll on many things due to corrosion, so our Captains must get to know their vessels very well and understand how it operates. Oil changes and Oil/Fuel filter changes are also scheduled, checked and tracked by management to make sure Captains do not forget. For repairs and major maintenance, we also have a very capable mechanic on call.
Maintaining Fishing Equipment
Fishing gear is expensive to purchase, so maintenance in this regard is key for a charter business to be successful. Our clients expect high quality, reliable, functioning gear.
Losing fish due to preventable equipment failure is not acceptable. The tasks associated with this responsibility fall on the shoulders of our Mates on the larger boats and our Captains on our smaller boats.
Rods and Reels are NEVER to be stored with saltwater on them. Our Mates will rinse them with freshwater before storing them. They usually rinse them off on the way in from a fishing trip and sometimes throughout the day if there is time. Our smaller boat Captains without a Mate primarily perform these tasks after they have docked and filleted the customer’s fish. Reels that can not be easily repaired by our crew are replaced by Penn through our professional sponsorship program. Electric reels for deep-sea fishing are expensive electronic equipment that our Captains and Mates are trained on how to maintain. These are also sent for professional replacement or repairs when required.
Fishing line is also replaced regularly on our reels to ensure reliability. Fishing tackle such as hooks, lures, line, and leads are organized and stored separately in dry containers to protect supplies from exposure to the elements and corrosive salt. Only the equipment and tackle needed for a particular fishing trip is removed from each boats primary storage.
Hooks exposed to open air are never returned to containers in the primary storage area as they could potentially rust out other supplies. This avoids unexpected loss of fish to preventable equipment failures such as a rusted weak hook snapping or an old rotted fishing line breaking.
Bait Don’t Wait
Our customers expect to have plenty of high-quality bait on their trip and they should! Finding fish is only half the battle, you also have to be able to present them with bait that has the best chance of triggering a bite. Our boats are always stocked with a wide variety of dead bait and chum to handle many situations. Live bait, however, is the best option in many cases when it comes to saltwater fishing in the Florida Keys. Our crews work tirelessly to make sure their live wells and bait cages are stocked with hardy live baits. This means setting and checking traps daily. It also means waking up at 5 am daily to throw cast nets on pilchards as the sun rises. It takes man-hours and fuel to catch live bait, so loss prevention is equally important. This entails removing dead baits from your cages and feeding the remaining ones to harden them up. It also means building cages without any holes in them and maintaining those bait cages by inspecting them and patching them up as needed.
The result of all the hard work
Well if you are exhausted after reading all of those tasks just imagine how our crew feels! Why would they put themselves through all of this work? Because when it’s all done we get to go fishing of course! And for crew members that love to fish often and consistently and aren’t afraid of some hard work Main Attraction is a wonderful place to be.
Right now, at the time of writing this article, we are currently experiencing a large front coming down through Florida. The fish are in a frenzy and thanks to our crew’s hard work we have a fleet of 5 well-maintained vessels ready to catch quality fish. Why just today our repeat customer, Mr. Jim, and his friends, braved the weather and entrusted the Main Attraction to produce a fun and memorable day on the water. The day was quite cloudy and rainy, however, the fish cooperated and they were rewarded with some great fish including Sailfish, Mahi, a large Wahoo and a large Kingfish. The crew used live-bait and kites to help raise the fish, since sight fishing wasn’t an option due to the conditions.
Please enjoy our photos of this wonderful trip and if you find yourself interested in fishing with the hardworking Main Attraction crew on one of our 5 well maintained vessels give us a call at 305-289-0071 or visit our contact page.