CTF Name: Blaine Real Name: Captain Blaine Anderson Age: 43 Current City: Newington, CT Hometown: Unionville, CT Family Members: Wife, Heidi; Son, Blaine Jr. Occupation: Fishing guide, tackle shop manager
1. Let's get right to it. You've made catching big stripers on a consistent basis look easy. How did you get to that level in your fishing? There are a couple of things. I am a little more passionate about my fishing than most. Regardless of weather or water conditions, I'm going fishing. I have a ball whether I'm fishing for stripers, pike, crappie or even jigging pondies. Having that fire to fish turns in to massive amounts of time on the water. I spend a lot of time out there and while I may have refined my techniques a bit over the years if anyone spent as much time as I do on the water, they too would catch a few big fish here and there.
Another reason I've done well over the years is that I invest a lot of money in having the right gear. I think I have the perfect boat for my style of fishing. The boat can get in tight to the rocks or fish the shallow flats yet rides remarkably well in the rips and snotty stuff. I have three separate livewells so that when I get on the bait, I can really load up and keep them lively. The trolling motor is key as well. I use it a lot to compensate for mind or weak tides. The Humminbird side imaging has been a huge asset for me as well. It's changed the way that I fish.
2. When targeting stripers, what are some of the most common mistakes you see anglers make? I wouldn't necessarily call it making mistakes. I've learned to adjust to changing conditions. I also to move around a lot. Regardless of whether or not I'm marking fish, if a spot doesn't pan out in 15 to 20 minutes then I'm out of there and on to the next one. Even on a great day of fishing, I'm averaging 25-35 miles on the boat. Be flexible, just because it worked yesterday doesn't mean it is going to work today. Take lots of notes, written or mental, just be aware of what's going on around you. Eventually patterns will develop.
3. You were into racing cars. When did you do that? Tell us about it. I love the life I have now but I sure miss those days. I've always been obsessed with horsepower and speed. When I got out of the Army in '91, I moved to Newington and met some fellow gear heads through a speed shop called Radical Rods. I became great friends with a guy, Tim, who was in to autocrossing. Autocrossing is done in large parking lots where cars are run through an elaborate course set up with cones. The runs are timed and highly competitive.
I helped work on Timís car and would occasionally get to run the course with it. From there we started to gravitate more towards unconventional racing, this is where I really got hooked. We did some ice racing during the winters and became pretty serious about Pro Rally. Rally races are run mostly off road with some pretty high tech cars. We ran two races a year on logging roads between Rumford and Rangely Maine. One race was in the dead of winter. These races are run at very high speeds over the course of a couple of days. I sat in the passenger seat as the navigator. What a thrill to blast down a single lane dirt road at speeds approaching 100 MPH! The ice racing was mostly time trial stuff, not much door-to-door racing, but probably the most fun Iíve ever had in a car.
During all of this I bought my own race car. It was a 1981 BMW 318. I did everything but rally with it. Hill climbs were probably the most hair raising races -- up the access roads of ski areas like Ascutney, Okemo and even Mt Washington. If any of you have ever driven to the top of Mt Washington, picture doing it at speeds up to 120 MPH. The fastest time (No, not me) recorded up the mountain was just over 6:41 over a course that was close to eight miles long -- that's an average up the mountain of almost 70 mph. Absolutely insane! Racing was a huge investment. I had a house and a family and figured it was time to become a bit more responsible. I was lucky to sell the car and make a nice little profit. With that money, I bought my first boat and the rest is history!
Here is a pic of the cars we ran back in the good old days. It sucks having to grow up!
4. You've shared many great pictures over the years. Give us five of your favorites and a few tips for good photographs. I love taking photos. I never go out without my camera. I'm certainly no pro. My best tip would be to contact Den for any photography advice you have! Seriously, I use the flash on 99% of my pictures. Even on the brightest days, it takes some of the shadows away and gives the photo better color. Take a ton of pics. If you take enough of them, eventually you'll get some good ones. Here are a few of my favorites:
This is a formation of a formation called Hoar Frost. Pretty rare phenomenon.
Brook trout from the Gods River in Manitoba, Canada.
Obviously, I didn't take this pic. T-Man did. It's probably one of my all time favorites though. It tells a great story. The report from that day is here on the site somewhere (link) but Bob D and I were both fighting 50" stripers at the same time!
A juvenile bald eagle swooping down on Gods lake in Manitoba, Canada.
You never know what youíll see on the CT River.
5. You've posted about a few fishing trips with your son. Do you think he'll grow up to be a casual angler or a fishing fanatic? Too soon to say. I've tried real hard not to push it on him. I wish that I had more time to get him out on the water but as busy as I am, it's tough. I've seen glimpses of the fanatic but it has yet to surface and stay. I would certainly welcome it. I'd love to show him some of the things I get to see on a daily basis. I've got quite a photo collection of sunrises, sunsets, eagles, etc. It never gets old.
6. You had a "tough" childhood. Would you care to elaborate? What kinds of things are you doing differently, now that you are a parent? Elaborate? No...I don't even talk to my wife about most of it.
7. When you first started chartering Ė and maybe still to this day Ė you have encountered some negative people. What are some of things that were said about you or done to you? I have been incredibly lucky to be involved with great people from day one. Other than one isolated incident, I honestly can't think of anyone that tried to discourage me or persuade me to not jump in with both feet.
As for the incident, I have no proof, but I think there was a certain charter captain in the area who felt threatened when I started up. In one week's time, I had a phone call at home from the DEP in regards to a complaint that I was operating in the marine district without a license. The season was early and I had just moved from the upper stretches of the river to Niantic. I had been scouting a lot with Jon H. and some others here on the board. The DEP said that someone saw me out there and assumed I was running charters. Two days later I was boarded by the Coast Guard while on Bartlettís Reef. Everything checked out and I was back to fishing again. Not long after that someone got on my boat and wiped me out of everything. I lost thousands in gear. Way too many things in a short period of time to be just a coincidence. Since that time, it's been smooth sailing. I learned to watch my back and follow the rules to the letter because you never know who is watching.
8. What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about chartering? LOL. It's easy money of course. I guess I make it look too easy some times. No one sees me roll out of bed at 2:30 a.m. for a 5:00 a.m. launch. I'm there 45 minutes ahead of my clients retying leaders, checking drags, getting the boat ready. The client shows up and we shove off. We return to the dock, I clean their fish and they get in their car, crank up the AC and drive off. No one sees me on my hands and knees scrubbing the boat and gear for another hour after that. Then I drive like a mad man to get to CT Outfitters on time and work here till 6:00 p.m. if I'm lucky. Many nights I'm there late. It's tough to lock the doors when customers are still pulling in. I haul ass home, have a quick dinner with the family and go to bed. I usually fall asleep by 8:00 p.m. watching the Sox.
9. You work at CT Outfitters. What differentiates the shop from others? What are some of the misconceptions people have about the tackle business? I'd like to think that it's the people here. We all love what we do. I honestly like to come to work. I take a lot of pride in the shop and run it like I own it. The passion I have for being on the water translates well in to the sales side of things. I know what works, I know what's biting when and where. I get a kick out of putting customers on fish from behind the counter. Misconceptions? That we're getting rich here.
10. You had a life threatening experience while ice-fishing. Tell us about that. Back several years ago, I was ice fishing on a cove of the Nashua River in Pepperell, MA. It was bitterly cold and we had just finished setting up. My black lab, Garth, was a little cold so I decided to get him moving around to warm up. One of his favorite games was to fetch ice chunks that we slid across the ice. I took the spud bar out and cut a decent sized piece and bowled it across the cove. He caught up to it but the chunk was too big for him to pick up and bring back. He decided to play soccer with and batted at it and pushed it with his nose. As he did this, he got closer and closer to the open water. I saw this and yelled to him to heel, which he did immediately.
The fishing was getting good and we had flags popping. I had just released a bass and was on my way back to the bucket to grab another shiner when I noticed Garth wasn't around. He was nowhere to be seen. I called to him a few times with no results, now I was starting to get pissed and a little worried at the same time. From way down the cove I heard a faint cry and then noticed a tiny spec in the distance splashing in the water.
I took off running towards Garth. It took forever to get to him, but the closer I got, the louder his cries got. He was sitting low in the water with his paws on the edge of the ice and his eyes were bulging out of his head. Looking back at it now, he had probably been in the water for almost 10 minutes at that point. He didn't have much longer. I thought that if I could get to shore, I could call him down stream to where he could get to the bank of the river and climb out on his own. I ran passed him heading for the bank looking for a place where he could swim to. I will never forget his cries as I ran further away from him. The shoreline was a marsh area on the north side of the cove. This area was in direct sun every day and with the decaying weeds there, the ice was honeycombed and very week. I couldn't take the extra time to go around further downstream. At this point, I realized I would have to go in to get my dog back.
As I ran back towards him, I began stripping clothes off so I wouldn't be quite so heavy in the water. As I got near him, I was down to my underwear and a turtle neck. The ice was cracking around me and I still had 20 feet to go. I laid down on my belly and began crawling towards him. Garth wasn't moving much anymore, just clinging to the edge of the ice and breathing real hard. I will never forget the look in his eyes as I got close to him. With five feet to go, the ice started sinking and the water rushed up towards me and in a second I was in the water. It was over 10 feet deep there so there was no hope of touching bottom. I thrashed around for a bit trying to catch my breath. As I kicked to get my torso back up on the ice, Garth was trying to climb out over my back. Every time I got back on the ice it would give way under the weight of the two of us. Pretty soon I was surrounded by broken chunks of ice. I couldnít feel anything at this point and as I continued to kick, my toes and shins were getting cut to ribbons by the chunks. Garth was still trying to climb out over me. I remember looking back at the fire we had going on the ice and wondering why my partner wasnít coming to help. He looked so small on the horizon. We kept breaking ice and inching along until finally I was able to get my upper body on the ice without it breaking. Without looking back, I reached behind me for Garth and through some stroke of luck my hand landed on his collar. I flung all 70 pounds of him up on the ice.
OK, he was out, now it was my turn. I had to force myself to slow down and think. I knew if I tried to stand up I'd be right back where I started from. I was able to lean to my left a little and kick my right leg up on to the ice. From there I was able to roll my entire body out onto the ice. It still wasn't thick enough to stand on, so I continued to roll. I think I rolled for close to 50 feet across the ice -- soaking wet and nearly naked. When I finally stood up and started making my way back to the fire, I had a tough time walking. Itís weird when everything is numb.
Anyways, I made it back to the fire which my partner had so graciously stoked up. He grabbed the keys out of the sled and headed back to the truck for my extra set of clothes. I moved my chair right next to the fire to dry off and keep warm till my clothes and boots arrived. I wasnít bleeding much because I was so cold but I remember looking at my legs and feet. I was missing 3 toenails and was thinking to myself that this was really going to hurt when I warmed back up.
I was safe though, the worst was over. The adrenaline was still pumping pretty strong in me and I happened to notice that there were three flags up.
By the time partner got back 15 minutes later with the clothes, I had iced four fish. I can't imagine what I would have looked like to a person watching me chase flags completely soaked, nearly naked and barefoot.
As I dressed, he went and retrieved my boots. By this time Garth had lots of ice frozen to his fur but he was running around again and seemed to be almost as warm as I was. We finished the day off on the cove and caught a ton of fish. I honestly think that Garth knew how close he had come to dying. He was never more than a couple of feet from my side for the next few weeks.
Iíve been asked by a ton of people what the F%#$ my partner was thinking when he didn't come to my aid. I donít have an answer, maybe he freaked and froze but the more I think about it I donít think he knows how to swim. Whatever. It's in the past, I pick who I fish with much more carefully these days.
I don't know what I was thinking when I took this picture but it had to have been something like "Nobody is going to believe this $hit."
11. What would you say to the guy who has never tried ice-fishing and scoffs at the idea of fishing in the middle of winter? I hear it all the time. Too cold or it looks boring. It is usually more productive than fishing open water. Year in and year out, I see my largest fish come through the ice. We are allowed six lines in the water at once so odds are you're gonna see some fish.
Clothing is the key. Try going with someone who is experienced. When you're with someone who knows the ropes, you will see just how productive ice fish can be. Like anything else, if you are comfortable, you are going to have fun. I get a lot of customers who tried it once and never went back out. I guarantee they got cold. Dress right and you'll have a blast.
12. Tell us about some of your freshwater fishing experiences growing up. My earliest memory is trout fishing with my uncle. We'd fish an impoundment created by beavers on a stretch of Bunnell Brook in Burlington. He'd put me on his shoulders and we'd wade down the brook through the overhanging brush and make our way into the marsh and fish from the dam. I grew up on the Farmington River in Unionville. There werenít many kids my age in the area so I fished a lot. Every day in fact. I didnít care what I caught as long as I was fishing. I'd spend 2 days in the brook near my house building a dam so I could watch the fish that would use the pool. As I got older, I met my best friend Chris. His father and he were and still are very close. They fished together a lot and began inviting me along. Once Chris got his drivers license we fished together every night after school. We fished every pond and brook from Farmington to the NY border. Most legally, some not so much. Ah, the memories.
13. You work a lot of the winter fishing shows. What keeps your interest level up while working such a demanding schedule? That's easy. I get to talk about fishing and play with all the new stuff. It's a long winter. At last count, I'll be on the road for over 40 nights this season. I've met a lot of great people and made some career advancing contacts at the shows. No matter how much you think you know about fishing, there are countless people who know more than you'll ever know. Every winter I talk to someone and hear about a technique or trick that I never considered trying. By the end of the Providence show in April, we're all ready to go fishing again
14. A young kid comes up to you at one of the shows and says he wants to be like you Ė working in a tackle shop and getting paid to take people fishing. What advice do you give him? Go for it. Here is what worked for me: Start by getting a job related to fishing, ideally in a tackle shop. Get to know the people in the industry, let them get to know you. If you feel you have something to offer, look for a pro staff position with one of the manufacturers. If you're lucky enough to get a foot in the door, volunteer to work the shows and events. That's where the snowball starts rolling.
15. An older person Ė perhaps more serious about actually chartering Ė asks you the same question. What advice do you give him? Go for it. You've got to be 100% committed to it. If all you want out of it is to make a boat payment, you probably won't be very good at what you do. Be prepared to do it full time if you want make a living. By full time, I mean on the water, at the shop and at the shows in the off season. It never stops.
16. Tell us about your military experience. What kinds of things did you learn that you still apply to your life today? I was and Airborne Combat Engineer. The US Army is the reason that I am who I am today. I was headed nowhere before I enlisted. I learned the importance of reliability, and accountability. Aside from earning my wings, the highlight of my time in the army was teaching demolitions at West Point. My class was "Calculation and Placement of Steel Cutting Charges". If you ever want to drop a bridge into the CT River, I'm your man.
17. How did you get started running charters? I took the money I made from selling my race car and bought my first boat. It was a 16í Sea Fox center console. Wow, there were some stories born on that little boat! Anyways, the summer that I bought it, I got laid off from my job in the IT world. I had 14 week's severance and gas was dirt cheap. I was in no hurry to go back to work and I fished the Sound almost every day. I had an absolute ball and learned a ton. I decided that I definitely did not want to go back to a high stress job no matter how much money they paid me.
Chartering looked like the best of both worlds to me. I could work part time somewhere while I built up a client base. That winter, I went and got my captain's license. That spring, I remember standing in the show room of Atlantic Outboard, looking at bigger boats and telling the wife that I only needed to do 8 charters that year to make the payments. How hard could that be????
Somehow I talked her in to it. We bought a 19' Hydra Sports Bay Bolt and I was off and running. I did ten charters that year. Things really took off after that, the next year I did 40.
18. How did you get started fishing in Manitoba, Canda every year? Pretty cool story actually. When I first got started guiding on the CT River for pike, I had a guy, Robert, from Westchester, NY book me. He wanted to learn how to catch pike. We used his boat, a gorgeous Lund Alaskan 21-footer. I think it was towed be hind a new Land Rover. We had a great day and that was that. A couple of years later Robert called again and this time wanted to catch stripers on the Sound. He wanted to throw lures with spinning gear. He brought some of his own gear and nothing but the best. As I recall, we had a tough day by my standards but Robert had a ball.
The following year, I got a call while I was here at the shop. It was Robert. He was at Plum Gut in his boat and having a tough time. He explained the conditions and tide to me and I have him a couple of places to catch some scup for bait and told him to call me when he had a couple dozen baits in the well. An hour later he calls me back and based on his description of the tide I gave him some GPS numbers of a hump to hit and sent him on his way. Two hours later he called me back as giddy as a school girl saying that they had an incredible day of big fish and lots of them. I felt great being able to help him out from way back here at the shop.
We went over a year without talking again and then in the dead of winter I got an email from Robert thanking me for everything that I've done for him. He went on to say he'd like to return the favor by bringing me with him to his camp on a lake in Manitoba called Gods Lake. Trophy pike, lakers, walleye and brookies in the same place. I remember thinking to myself "Riiiiiiight, that will happen." It was one of those too good to be true stories. We exchanged a few more emails and I finally asked him what made him buy a place in Canada. He sent me a link to the place and it was then that I realized that he didnít just buy a camp, he bought THE CAMP. Boats, cabins, guides, the whole nine yards! All I had to do was buy the airfare to Winnipeg and the rest would be taken care of.
We kept talking over the next few weeks and before I knew it I had bought my tickets. The trip was absolutely incredible and I really hit it off with Robert and the lodge manager, Lee. They asked me if I'd be willing to help them out with advertising and booking clients and guiding a bit in exchange for a free trip every year. There wasn't much of a decision to make. This August will be my third trip up. I can't wait to get back up there!
19. If you weren't involved in a fishing-related career right know, what do you think you'd be doing? I shudder to think of what I'd be doing. Chances are I'd still be in the IT world. The money would surely be decent but I'd be miserable. By the time I was laid off way back when I was pretty burned out.
20. What would you still like to accomplish in your fishing career? I'd like to catch a 50-pound striper in all of the New England coastal states. I'm half way there. Not sure if it's ever been done before. It might make for an interesting book someday.