Wow!  Who knew that the above picture would be so polarizing.  I realize that having an opinion and being public in stating that opinion opens you up to criticism.  I have no problem with it.  I usually just let it go, but since this one turned out to be such a controversial topic, and I have this forum to discuss it, then that’s what I’m going to do…

First, let me give you some background.  One of the things I love about fishing is it cuts across all lines.  I follow anglers across the world on social media.  I follow and have followers from the Middle East to the middle of America.  I have fishing friends I spend time with on the water from 16 to their 60’s.  I have fishing friends that play in bands, are CEO’s, and are regular working class, blue-collar types.  Some of my fishing buddies, I really disagree with their political viewpoints, but I still enjoy fishing with them.  Fishing is a great equalizer and I love the wide range of backgrounds that all my fishing buddies come from.

So with that said, what my rant WAS NOT about was an old guy sitting in a chair on a sportboat and whether they had a right to do so.  It was not about having respect for elders.  It was not about whether this person had some sort of physical limitation.  One person said, “What if that was your dad?”  Well if it was my dad, he wouldn’t be sitting in a lawn chair, on a 3/4 day, yellowtail targeting trip, during the height of summer, on a weekend!

I get asked all the time, “Hey Joe, I’ve got a group of people.  We want to go out on X day.  What’s a good boat that you’d recommend?”  The first thing I always say is, “Tell me about your group.”  I want to assess their experience level and figure out what kind of anglers they are.  The reason I want to find out this information is because, NOT EVERY TRIP IS APPROPRIATE TO EVERY ANGLER.

Let me give you an example.  I work in an office in Santa Monica.  My coworkers have really enjoyed all the tuna and yellowtail I’ve brought in this summer to share with them.  Many were really interested in going fishing and I was asked to put together a trip.  So I did and hosted 16 people on a trip.  No one in the group was an experienced angler.  Some had never even fished…not on a lake, or a dock, much less on the sportboats where I spend my time on the ocean.  So what trip did I pick?  It wasn’t a day and half offshore tuna trip.  It wasn’t a 3/4 day trip aboard one of the Long Beach boats chasing yellowtail.  It was a half day trip, staying withing Santa Monica Bay, aboard the New Del Mar.  For my rent rod colleagues, at least for the ones that didn’t get seasick and actually fished, it was the right trip for their experience and skill level, and they had fun.  For the ones that didn’t fish, the upper deck and the spacious galley on the NDM gave them a place to get away from the action on deck and deal with their limitations (seasickness in this case) without being a problem for the rest of the people trying to fish.

OK Joe, I see where you are going.  Why isn’t a lawn chair appropriate in this particular scenario?

I don’t know what this particular person’s situation is…whether or not they are physically capable, or they were just trying to be comfortable and weren’t aware of boat protocol.  The reason why it’s not appropriate is because of the kind of trip it is.

Was it a long trip where there would be an extended time of non-fishing on the way to the fishing grounds?  NO

Was it a rockfish trip where you can stay in one spot and not have to follow your fish?  NO

Was it a light load scenario where these people in the chairs could kind of be off to themselves and not bother or be bothered by the other anglers on the boat?  NO

For this sort of trip, they have been extremely crowded.  When fishing for yellowtail, you are going to have to follow your fish.  For this reason, anglers are asked to bring their rod with them to the bait tank, ,because if you were to leave it at the rail and someone had to follow their fish, the rod would be in the way.  It could get broken, or worse, the person following their fish could trip over it and hurt themselves.  Basically, it’s a safety hazard.  So if this is the case for a fishing rod, why would it be ok for any angler (much less an older one) to be sitting in a lawn chair (not even one of the ez ones to fold either) on this kind of a trip?  It’s as dangerous to the person sitting in the chair, as it is for the other anglers.

In this case, the deckhands moved these people to a more appropriate area where they could sit and not be a problem – for the other anglers on the boat or themselves.

What if it were my dad?  My dad is in his 80’s, so I wouldn’t pick this trip.  He’s not concerned with catching trophies.  I might go north right now and get on a light load, rockfish trip.  Or maybe choose a trip in the same area where they do limit the load and the boat has more room (like an upper deck or galley area) to get out of the way if you need to do so.

What I wouldn’t do is bring a lawn chair for him to sit in.  The boats are happy to accommodate anglers with special needs.  I’ve fished with blind people and people in wheelchairs.  Not an issue.  If you call ahead to the landing or boat owner/captain, and explain your situation, they’ll be happy to work with you or point you in the appropriate direction.  Understand that an open party 3/4 day yellowtail trip may not be where they point you.  If you decide to go anyway, then realize you are going to need to conform to the rules and protocols set by the crew.  If you want to sit in a lawn chair and catch yellowtail, you’ll need to buy your own boat or charter one.  The rules are there for the comfort and safety of ALL the passengers.

One commenter on this controversial thread, Jon Gonzales, put it very well…

I work in the industry and I don’t think it’s appropriate. There’s a couple of people in chairs in this picture. Would you still think it was fine if everyone on the boat was sitting in a chair?

And as far as limitations go and fishing, I don’t see things the same way.  Of course I love to fish and will do whatever I have to to get out on the water.  But I’ve now had multiple spine surgeries and my condition, when exacerbated, can create physical limitations.  Is that someone else’s problem?  No.  That’s why, if I can’t ride like everyone else, I don’t ride.  I go out on far more private boats now because of it.  Nobody else should have to work around my physical condition because I feel entitled to ride a boat.

I couldn’t agree more.  Personally, my knee has been bothering me the last few weeks.  I’ve had 2 surgical reconstructions on my right knee.  I have self limited and chose to go on boats where I knew it wouldn’t be as crowded and I’d have more room the last couple times out.  I paid more money to do so, but I didn’t want to put myself in a situation I wasn’t fit for right now.

Still disagree?  I welcome your comments below.


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