Hooking up tourists: Racine’s fishing charters a lasting attraction in the city center | Money


ROOT – One of downtown’s strong tourist attractions, year after year, is also one of the least visible: fishing charters.

This year, 22 chartered boats are based in Racine, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the licensing body. They attract families, groups of fishing enthusiasts, and businesses such as the Case IH-affiliated 10-boat mini-armada that rolled out Thursday afternoon.

It was an event where Case IH dealers gave customers an adventure on the water, explained Scott Rasch, corporate events manager for Case IH North America.

“This is something that we have presented to our dealers,” he said. “They take advantage of it because it’s something great to do when they come to Racine.

This particular group included people from the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa, Rasch said. “A lot of these people will come back at their own pace and start over because they had such a great time,” he said.

“I think we are not alone,” Rasch added. “We’ve all, as businesses, used this (attraction) for one reason or another.”

The chinook is king

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One boat involved in this Case IH outing was the First In, owned by Captain Josh Keeran of Proposition Fishing Charters. Keeran was a Caledonia firefighter and now works in Chicago.

Keeran, 32, started helping out on fishing charters at the age of 12. He opened his business, based in Reefpoint Marina, in 2005, but “got serious” about five years ago when he bought his current boat, a 29ft Tiara.

On a typical summer Saturday, Keeran will take an early fishing trip and sometimes a second in the afternoon. For most people, the main catch is a large chinook, or king, he said.

“These are generally the best and biggest fighting fish in the lake,” Keeran explained. “Most people think of salmon as the fish of choice to eat as well. “

Captain Angelo Trentadue has been running charter boats since 1979; her current vessel is the Fishing Bug, a 30-foot Luhr moored at Azarian Marina.

Boats are limited to six passengers, the normal excursion lasts five hours, and the going rate, along with the Trentadue rate, is $ 500 for the group.

“We’re trying to get people to wake up early” and leave between 4 and 7 in the morning, Trentadue said. “Morning fishing is better.” But they can also go out in the afternoon.

A charter fishing boat is well equipped for navigation and spotting fish. The Fishing Bug’s equipment includes a depth / fish finder, GPS, radar for maneuvering in fog, a downrigger for placing bait in the water and temperature gauges.

They only troll at speeds of 1 to 2½ mph and using all artificial lures, Trentadue explained. Usually his second leads while Trentadue sets lines, fishes nets and chats with customers. He and his mate clean, bag and ice the fish for customers.

Find fish

When asked if he was an expert at finding fish, Trentadue replied, “Well I know what I’m doing, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. The fish do their own thing and the conditions are constantly changing.

But Jerry Smith of Darien Township, a fairly regular Fishing Bug customer, said Trentadue was probably too modest.

“We know we’re going to catch fish if we go on the Fishing Bug with Angelo,” Smith said. He and a few friends dated him in June and all of them have reached their limit.

“I love to fish, from muskellunge to bluegill,” Smith said. With a fishing charter, “I’ve always been lucky on Lake Michigan.

Charter boats are also important during the annual Salmon-A-Rama, a nine-day salmon fishing competition, said Craig Bender, board member for the event. Many contest participants participate in the contest by reserving a place on a chartered boat.

Dave Blank, executive director of the county tourism office, Real Racine, said the fishing charter is a “major attraction because it’s a unique thing – catching the big fish – it’s one of the main attractions that we have”.

“The market has changed over the years from being a primarily business market,” when an excursion was a 100% tax deduction, Blank said. Now it’s more family-oriented or groups of fishing buddies, he said.

Sport is rather expensive, Blank pointed out.

“But it’s one of our strongest (tourist attractions), going charter fishing,” he added. “You can’t find that in a lot of places.


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