GENEVA – When he was a kid, Steven Japp and a few friends would often go to Roy’s Marina after school to fish Seneca Lake before dark.
âIt got to the point where more and more people wanted to go,â said Japp, including the grandfather. Roy Japp, founded Roy’s Marina decades ago. “We were called Roy’s Boys, and it kinda stuck.”
Several years ago, when Steven decided to start a charter fishing business, finding a name was the easiest part: Roy’s Boys Fishing Charters.
âIt’s eye-catching,â Japp said with a smile.
It is a profession apparently in the genetic makeup of the 2011 Geneva high school graduate.
Steven practically grew up in Roy’s Marina, where he still helps his parents and current Roy’s Marina owners Larry and Ros Japp.
âI grew up fishing in this lake and have always enjoyed fishing with my dad and his friends,â Steven said. âThey were taking me through the lake trout derby, and some guys from Rochester really tuned me up. They were teaching me different techniques, and it was just about developing my own way of doing things.â
Japp started his charter business in 2017 after obtaining his captain’s license, a 100-hour course that covers navigation and safety. It also includes training in CPR and first aid.
âBasically it’s just about spending hours on the water and proving to the Coast Guard that you can stand to be out there and have a safe trip,â he said. âI’ve known boats all my life so it wasn’t that hard. Seneca is pretty wide open, but there are canals, shallow water, and things to know. “
Japp has two boats. Its main one is a 26-foot Penn Yan Competitor, which can accommodate six people for hours on the lake – it has a bathroom. This vessel was previously owned by the late Don DeSio, who ran a charter business on Seneca Lake for years. The second boat is an 18ft Lund, which Japp mainly uses during the colder months.
It charges $ 350 for a four hour trip for 1-4 people and $ 500 for a six hour trip.
Japp’s girlfriend Kaycie McHale helps with the company’s website and social media.
While most of its customers hope to land large lake trout, they also catch rainbow trout, salmon, and bass in warm weather. Perch and pike are popular catches during the colder months – and one day Japp would like to land a brown trout.
âChestnuts are almost non-existent. I call them the Seneca Lake Bigfoot, âhe said with a smile. “You hear about them and see pictures of them, but never catch any.”
Japp said about 80% of his customers are from Pennsylvania, while others are from New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts and Vermont. Most rent a house or a cottage by the lake, with family or friends who are usually around.
âA lot of them want to have an outdoor experience,â Japp said. âI install the rods and if something bites, they do the job.
âIt’s more about paying for a souvenir than for a fishing trip. There is nothing like seeing a big fish come out of deep water, especially for a child. It’s something they can talk about the rest of their life.
While some more experienced customers prefer to catch and release, others take their fish home for dinner. If they wish, Japp will fill it out for them; occasionally, he’ll call Port’s Cafe, which is across Route 14 from the marina, if his customers want him cooked there for dinner.
To some extent, Japp agrees with some that Seneca Lake has seen better days for fishing. He called the zebra mussels a âdisasterâ for the lake. The lamprey, an eel-like creature that attaches to fish, is harming the lake trout population, Japp noted, although the DEC is trying to address it.
âPeople say Seneca Lake is a dead lake, and that can be a struggle,â Japp said. âI just like to go out and prove it’s not a dead lake.
âThere are trips where we come back with 20 lake trout, and there are trips where you can’t have a fish to hang on to. There is also a ton of bait in this lake for the fish to eat, and that really keeps this lake from thriving, but it gets there. There is still some very good fishing there.