Larry Simns, commercial fisherman/charter boat captain


September 21, 2005|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

Larry Simns

Home: Rock Hall

Age: 68

Years in business: 60

Salary: $30,000 a year

Typical day: From mid-April to mid-December, Simns runs a charter boat business on the Chesapeake Bay out of Rock Hall Harbor. He offers half-day and full-day charters, with the morning trip leaving at 5 a.m. and returning at noon. The second trip leaves about 1:30 p.m., returns at 7 p.m. His day is spent taking care of the fishing lines, baiting the hooks and cleaning the fish. He has at least one mate to help with the duties. "You're busy all the time. You have six to 15 people on the boat that you have to take care of." In the winter months, and when he doesn't have a charter scheduled, he fishes commercially, selling his catch to local wholesale distributors.

How he got started: Simns has worked on the water since he was 6 or 7 years old, when he started fishing, oystering, clamming and crabbing with his great-grandfather. Simns' father and grandfather also worked on the water. In high school, Simns worked on a charter boat and started his own business after he graduated. He said he quit charter fishing in the 1970s and instead worked as a commercial fisherman. "Basically anything in the Chesapeake Bay, I've worked for." After the rockfish moratorium was lifted in 1990, he went back to charter fishing.

Making a living as a waterman: Simns says to clear $30,000 a year he must make about $80,000 to $100,000. "We take in a lot of money because it costs a lot of money to operate a boat." He said it takes about $900 to fill up his boat's 300-gallon gas tank. An average trip runs about 50 to 100 gallons.

The good: "I'm self-employed so I'm my own boss. I grew up on the water so it's all I know. It's a way of life."

The bad: The lack of appreciation. "Without us, the only people that would get fish are the elite people that have boats or enough money to pay someone to take them fishing."

On being self-employed: "It's a gamble from day-to-day whether you make a living or not. You have to manage your resources. You can't live for the day."

Boat: The Dawn II, named for his daughter, is made of fiberglass and has a twin-diesel engine. A full-day excursion costs $510 for six people; a half-day trip costs $390.

Favorite seafood: Crabs and rockfish.

The mascot: A golden retriever named Capt'n, who will go on the fishing and hunting trips if requested.

Fishing: Striped bass or rockfish are the most popular, but they also catch white perch, bluefish, croaker and catfish.

Extracurriculars: President of the Maryland Watermen's Association.

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