Hook, Line & Sinker

The retirement of the captain of the Sea Hunter is great for him and according to his website, he is certainly happy to be retiring. Best of luck and congratulations on being such an important part of the community and fishing industry all these years.

That’s the good news for him. But the bad news for the industry, the Harbor, and fishermen in general is that his retirement means there are now only four headboats docked at the world’s most beautiful and easily accessible harbor, where at one time there were eight headboats.

But that was long ago, at a time when boat captains could count on almost guaranteeing a boatload of fish for happy reelers at a price everyone could afford. Remember the days of the Satellite and the SuperCat?

Today, I feel sorry for these hardworking guys in the business and think all of us can do something to help them and not only feel good about ourselves but make others feel good as well.

Party boat captains are being hit from all angles. The state Fish and Game Commission isn’t kind to them; not only do they change regulations and prohibitions and restrictions at the drop of a piece of bait, limiting what fishermen can and can’t take, how big it has to be and how many they can catch. But because of the nature of their business and the weather, head boat captains have a limited season in New Jersey.

While most headboats will be starting up the season in about four weeks or so, they have to pay their leasing fees year round, they have to be down there sprucing up their craft for what they hope will be another busy and profitable season, and they have to keep up all that awful insurance cost. Once the season starts, add in the bait, added crew members to be paid, and the myriad of other costs they all incur to ensure a great day on the water for the customer.

But this year, think of it. It’s going to be pretty horrible for lots of industries, and this one will be hit hard. If you’re complaining and feeling the pinch of the high cost of filling your car’s gas tank for $75 or so, think of what it has to be costing to fill the tanks on these boats! Then think of how many folks have to go out on these trips to make it cost effective….just to break even!

But that’s where we can help. Do you have a favorite niece or nephew graduating from high school? Or perhaps a new military enlistee home on his first leave? Or how about that college student who’s taking on extra classes this summer and needs a break once in a while?

Think gift cards for trips on one of the head boats out of the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Harbor. Think of that Father’s Day gift that will be remembered for a lifetime. Think of giving a teenager a new experience with a rod and reel or spending a special day with his friends seeing who can hook the first striper.

Capt. Hal Hagaman’s Sea Tiger has always been a fun boat to go out on because of the camaraderie and friendship aboard, to say nothing of Capt. Hal’s ability to find great fishing grounds.

Capt. Scott’s Prowler V is another great head boat and one where the crew is simply outstanding in showing new fisherman the tricks of the trade.

Capt. Tom Buban’s Atlantic Star long ago gained its reputation for excellence, and offers senior citizen discounts as a bit of a bonus for a great day on the water.

And Capt. Ron’s Fisherman is a family business, like so many of the others, that shows a love and dedication to a craft the Santees know so well.

It’s worth checking into the AHNJ.com webpage, going to Harbor information and seeing what each of these boat captains has to say about the upcoming season. Love Capt. Ron’s spirit of adventure and positive outlook,talking about the sun coming up and the fish biting. Stop down at the harbor and see how they’re sprucing up their craft in anticipation of April trips.Then think of the fun you or someone you want to treat to a special gift will have when he feels that striper on the end of the line. There’s nothing like it.


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