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Taking clients fishing can be fun and profitable

Ron Ross of Silverdale Realty owns an “old, wooden-hulled, commercial tuna boat,” with about a nine-person capacity. This will be his 20th year to spend time on it in Alaska.

Ross likes to take clients and treat them to a weeklong fishing trip. He usually takes five guests, making ten trips per summer. Those who go, by his description, are “friends who have become clients.”

Each one brings a sleeping bag. He provides everything else, although some prefer to bring their own fishing gear.

Ross does not charge for the weeklong trip, but each one is responsible for airfare to Ketchikan, then on to Craig, on Prince of Wales Island. At that point, “we share grocery costs.”

He chuckles to describe the shopping habits of men away from their wives. “They are extravagant on goodies.” In fact, at the end of each trip, they offload quantities of rich food to a local food bank.

Ross says he doesn’t cook , so his guests all share in that task.

They usually fish just off Noyes Island, utilizing three smaller two-man boats. They sometimes fish for ocean halibut from the big boat. But Ross, who says he’s seen the salmon counts reduced year by year, requires his friends to use barbless hooks, and encourages catch-and-release, saying the true fisherman gets enjoyment in the catch. “They’ll each take home only one or two fish,” he says.

If the weather is bad, “We play cribbage!”

Special experiences include getting close to whales and sea lions, and away from populated areas.

The benefit he gets is to spend time with friends, and says it seems to be pleasurable for all. However, he warns, this is not a time to woo people into business. To spend time in such close quarters in potentially difficult seas requires those who already know each other well.

Herm Petersen of Belfair uses his boat for charter trips, charging $1,125 per person for groups of four to spend three days fishing in Alaska. Like Ross, he will leave this area in May for the season.

One special trip he particularly looks forward to this year is with invited guests who are all former colleagues from Petersen’s professional drag-racing days in the 1960s and ’70s. Among car-racing fans, he was known throughout the US as “The Northwest Terror.” Last year, he was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

His racing friends, like all his clients, will spend time on his 41-foot Pacifica sports fisher, the Bar-B-Q.

Petersen does most of the cooking, and provides everything his clients need. “I don’t know how many people have told me ‘This is the best vacation I’ve ever had.”

The trip’s benefits include a time of no worries, seeing humpback and orca whales, eagles, sea otters, and maybe a grizzly bear or two. Petersen exclaims, “The fishing is fantastic!” This year, he says, they expect the best return of wild king salmon ever.

Each person will come home with a minimum of one box of fish, and maybe two.

While on the boat, guests will have to reel in their own fish. “I cook, wash dishes, cut bait and bait hooks, clean and fillet the fish,” Petersen says with the enthusiasm of a man who loves his work. He teaches them how to wrap their own fish, which immediately go into the freezer.

“Some will do dishes, some help wash down the boat when we come in, and I don’t complain,” he says with a smile.

This is Petersen’s 17th year, and his clients, both men and women, have become his “good friends,” many coming back again and again. He generally takes the “inside, inside passage,” one waterway in from where the cruise ships go.

Linda Thomson's picture
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