CALABASH, N.C. (WFXR) — Searching for the perfect mate?
Just add water.
Of course, the type of mate we are talking about will bait your hook, mend your line, and clean your fish.
Fishing charter mates are unsung heroes. While the anglers catch the fish, it is the mates who go above and beyond to make those catches possible.
It is a lot of work. There is ice to be procured and stowed; bait to be cut; cleaning and swabbing; line mending; gear rigging, and all of that before the first customer steps on the boat. Once those anglers climb aboard the real action starts. It can be non-stop motion for as long as the trip lasts, at least a minimum of four hours.
“I’ve been doing this for seven years,” said Calabash Fishing Fleet mate Tripp Sims. ” I can’t imagine a better job.”
Sims, originally from South Hill, Virginia, mates aboard the Cyclone, one of the headboats run by the Calabash Fishing Fleet. He says meeting people and sharing the experience of being on the water and fishing with them is what he loves about it the most.
“It’s amazing to be able to meet people from all walks of life, from all over the country, and sometimes from all over the world,” said Sims as he cleaned the day’s catch, which is another one of his duties as a mate. “You get to hang out with them for a little while, and you get to take them fishing.”
Once the fishing starts Sims is busy cutting bait, baiting hooks, helping to boat fish, coaching technique, identifying species, and untangling lines. When the trip is over, Sims collects gear and cleans on the ride back in. Then back at the dock, there is the matter throwing and securing lines, and then the fish cleaning starts.
“This is like the finality of it,” Sims said as he pulled a fish from a stringer. “This is what all the machinations and everything that we went through were all converging.”
On most charter boats mates work for tips. While money can be made, the real payoff is in the flexibility of schedule and the chance to go fishing everyday.
Sims summed it up: “Just being able to go out there with people from all over the country, getting to meet them, getting to talk with them, not only do you get to go fishing and have fun doing that, but you get to learn a little bit about life and each other, as well.