by Captain Joe Greco
As a fishing-charter skipper on beautiful Lake George for eighteen years, I have been in the company of hundreds of individuals from all walks of life. While some trips are certainly more enjoyable and memorable than others, I had a charter a few summers ago that turned out to be one of the most rewarding excursions that I have ever taken. The group traveled to our area from the western part of New York State and consisted of a counselor and four developmentally disabled individuals.
Right from the start, I had an absolutely fabulous time with my crew, inasmuch as while we were leaving the dock, the group began singing the song “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” It was a beautiful day, indeed, as we enjoyed great weather, interesting conversation, and shared many laughs. As an aside, the fishing wasn’t too bad either.
The organization that booked the trip is called, “People and Places,” from East Aurora, New York. People and Places is a not-for-profit organization that provides small group, year round vacation opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities. The organization has provided year-round vacation experiences since 1975 and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico. People and Places believes in the rights of those they serve, helping them to enjoy a normal life through vacation experiences. Each excursion is usually limited to 6-to-8 vacationers, traveling with two staff escorts.
We had such a fabulous time on their first trip that I received another call from People and Places, indicating that they wished to book another trip. I canvassed my schedule and penciled the group in for a second charter. The group arrived right on time; and after loading, we headed out to our fishing destination at approximately 7AM. Once again, the weather was outstanding as we headed to a spot that we had been catching some nice lake trout in the preceding days. The plan of the day was to try our luck at catching a few lake trout and around mid-morning, fish for smallmouth bass.
After setting our lines out, a member of our group asked how long it would take to catch our first fish. Shortly after explaining why this was a difficult question to answer, he smiled and stated, “even if I don’t catch anything, I just like being on your boat.” It would be great if more charter clients had the same attitude. Within minutes, we had our first fish on, and after a short battle the lake trout was photographed and released. The crew really enjoyed watching the 7lb. lake trout swim back to the depths of Lake George, yet another commendable characteristic of this terrific group. After catching and releasing a few more lake trout, we decided to head to a nearby bass spot.
As I approached a favorite bass fishing area, our Lowrance electronics revealed that the location was loaded with fish. I quickly set anchor and handed each angler one of my ultra-light bass fishing rods. We were fishing with Gary Yamamoto soft-baits this particular day in approximately 35-feet of water. As I lowered a cinnamon colored bait down to the bottom as a means of demonstrating the technique that we would be using, a fish slammed the bait immediately. I handed the rod to one of my excited clients and the first bass of the morning was caught. The action was fast-and-furious, resulting in our staying in this one spot for the duration of the charter. All totaled, we boated well over three-dozen bass. The group talked about having a fish fry, so I filleted a few bass and gave them one of my favorite recipes to try.
We had such a wonderful time that – just like our first trip – the morning flew by and it was time to head back to the dock. While cruising back in, the group couldn’t stop talking about the fun that they had hauling in all of those fish. We finally arrived at our dock and began unloading all of their belongings, which included enough fresh fillets for the group to enjoy for dinner.
People and Places was aware that I move my charter operation to Fort Myers, Florida each winter (www.FortMyersFishingAdventures.com) and trip counselors advised that they were planning to travel to Florida and take a charter with us in the “Sunshine State” in the not too distant future. This terrific group fished with us in Fort Myers this past March and the fish gods were smiling upon them, once again, as they filled the cooler with snapper, sheepshead and sea trout. In addition to catching a bunch of fish, the group was lucky enough to see several dolphins in the area that we fished.
I have learned a great deal from this wonderful group over the past couple of years, as they certainly “don’t sweat the small stuff.” These guys enjoyed simply being on the water and gave me the distinct impression that catching fish was a very small part of the overall experience. They enjoyed the lake, enjoyed each other’s company, and were an absolute pleasure to have aboard my charter boat. I admired their attitudes, especially coming from a group that has largely experienced an uphill battle their entire lives.