Being a charter boat captain is a tough job. The hours are insane and the fish usually don’t seem willing to cooperate. The costs are extensive, from the price of the boat, to the cost of tackle, to insurance, to gasoline and repairs, to name a few budgetary items.
After all of that, you are dependent on the weather. You may be totally booked with clients and all of a sudden you face stiff winds from the north that makes fishing extremely difficult and navigation unsafe. Then, you have to cancel and return the deposits.
This is definitely a job that can break a man, but the best stand out and prosper. Woodstock’s Capt. Bob Rossa launches his first charter of 2013 on his 33-foot Baha Sport, “The Migrator,” on April 26.
“I’ve been fishing since they introduced the salmon into Lake Michigan back in the 1970s,” Rossa said. “I did it for fun. I had to have a job to make enough money to raise a family, but when those financial responsibilities were met, I decided to become a full-time charter boat captain 14 years ago.”
One of Rossa’s favorite memories is catching 30 cohoes in an hour-and-a-half.
“It was so fast and furious that we were never able to get more than three rods in the water at one time,” he said.
Rossa said his favorite thing about being a captain is taking out newcomers.
“I love catching the big king salmon and sharing that experience,” Rossa said.
Many charter boat captains can keep their clients captive with tales of close calls induced by storms that show up without warning and create massive waves that threaten the safety of boat, captain and crew. Does Rossa have any such tales?
He said, “Not really. I’ve faced a few 60-mile-per-hour wind shears out there, but for the most part I play it safe. I don’t take a chance on going out if it’s questionable and I head back in at the first sign that something is happening that could be trouble.”
Rossa contributes a Lake Michigan fishing report every week during the season to the Northwest Herald.
“Bob is one of the good guys out there,” Capt. David Smith said. “He shares his information and would like to see everyone catching fish, not just him. He’s good for the fishery.”
The season lasts from late April until the first of November, weather dependent. That’s about the same as a baseball season. During the offseason, Bob runs one of northern Illinois’ best-known goose hunting operations in late fall and early winter, but that’s a story for another time.