Meet Captain Tom

This photo collage to the left really should be entitled “Captain Tom through the ages,” but I just couldn’t bring myself to post some of the photos of me in my early 20s. They just look too young!

My story as a guide is a simple one. Following my graduation from Duke University, I set out to start my own business and founded WaterDog Guide Service in 2003. Since then it’s been an amazing ride as I have followed my passion for saltwater fishing and the North Carolina coast I call home.

With more than 13 years of experience guiding, and my beard starting to gray, I look at every day as opportunity to hone my craft and improve myself as a guide. Every morning, I still wake up just as excited to “get to the office” as I was 13 years ago so I canshare my love of fishing with my clients.

When it comes to guiding, I am very proud of my occupation and the hard work it takes to be a productive fisherman and guide, day in and day out. As a full-time guide, I am deeply committed to my job and I do each and everything I can to make your day as productive as possible. Being a full-time guide, in my opinion, is one of the best things that I can offer my clients. Not only am I on the water every single day learning and moving with the habits of the fish, but the success of my business is founded upon the satisfaction and happiness of my clients. The happier my clients, the more repeat business I have…and I have a lot of clients who fish with me more than a few times per year! My success and track record speaks for itself – year in and year out, I am one of busiest guides in the state of North Carolina.  I am on the water, with clients, over 230 days a year.

That being said, one reason for my success is that I try to be as honest and straightforward as possible. While I can’t control the changing conditions and all the movements of the fish, I rarely have a client who, at the end of the day, feels as if they didn’t have a clear picture of the possibilities. While I can’t guarantee slick calm sees and perfect water conditions – rest assured if it is dangerous or unfishable we won’t be fishing period. However, if I believe that it’s borderline or we can’t do a specific thing, I brief my clients with a truthful description of the conditions and corresponding fishing options and thus give them the option to fish or cancel based upon that. . If in our initial conversation I feel that we are not a good match for technique and expectations and I believe there is another guide whom can better suite you – rest assured I will refer you to that guide.

One of the most important qualities of any fishing guide is a commitment towards setting realistic expectations with their clients. In this industry, I often here all sorts of bold statements and amazing claims. In those cases, most of of the time, customers end up pretty disappointed. Does it sound to good to be true? It almost surely is.

At WaterDog Guide Service, we are committed to customer service. While most folks who call me want to fish with me, I committed to making sure you are booking the right sort of trip. Communication is paramount to me as just a few questions can go a long way in making sure you’re booking the right trip for you. It honestly pains me to hear the stories of unhappy fishermen who feel they were wronged by a guide or simply booked the wrong type of charter. That is an expensive mistake no one should have to make. I believe in consumer advocacy, and with just a couple of questions and a little information it is easy for me to make sure that you’re planning the right charter and we are both on the same page. Even while I had an open schedule, I would much rather match a client with another guide if I feel they are a better match

But being a successful guide is not just about catching fish (or even fishing the way in which you want to)- it’s also about making sure that your clients have a very enjoyable day on the water. Fishing has always been very important to me, and from a very early age, my father and grandfather impressed upon me that fishing was avenue for the importance of family, camaraderie, conservation and the love of the sport. I have a real passion about what I do as a guide, and as fisherman. I offer more than a service, as a guide I inspire to share my love of fishing and the outdoors with my clients. From the first day I started my business, I said that I wanted my customers to always feel that “they had a great time, learned a lot…and also caught some fish.” What I mean by this is fishing is supposed to be fun and most people in this business can catch fish – it’s about the attitude of the guide and the experience they hope you have. Fishing can be very stressful if the wrong attitude is taken – not everyone wants to fish like it’ a tournament with a million dollar prize on the line. Fishing is not about who can go the fastest or who can sling the biggest fish on the dock – not every person wants to tug on a 300lb sea monster…some of us enjoy technique and style as much as anything. I tell myself that every day that I am on the water – that the most important thing I can do is make sure that I am fishing in the style, comfort and pace that my clients want. Unless you like a hectic pace, I prefer a low-pressure environment. If you’re not having fun – it’s no fun for me!

Finally, being a professional guide is being a steward of the incredible fisheries we participate in. That means I am conscious of my impact and do everything in my power to be an ethical angler and tinstill those good practices to my clients. Off the water I spend countless hours volunteering with groups like the Coastal Conservation Association to help preserve and protect our fisheries for future generations.

When Im not working you can find me…fishing…or enjoying time outside with my wonderful wife and incredible portuguese water dogs. I am an avid hiker, bow hunter and also enjoy turkey and upland bird hunting.