MOUNT PLEASANT — The fishing bug bit Daniel Neese not long after he came to Charleston in 1989. But when he turned to making a profession of it a few years ago, he had concerns.

The saltwater fishing industry in South Carolina was taking a beating. Federal catch restrictions and the recession were cutting into the customers who had hired thousands of boats for millions of trips each year. The "head boats," the daily charters that used to take people offshore by the dozens, were out of business.

The Lowcountry already had more than 300 certified sea captains, the professionals who guide custom fishing trips and they were so worried about by forced out of work they had organized to fight any more restrictions. Neese wasn't sure he could make a go of it with his 20-footer, the Knot Stressed. For him, it was just a part-time venture, but he wanted eventually to make it full-time.

"If I ever got that serious into it, how serious could I take it?" he asked himself. He just found out.

Neese, 40, of Mount Pleasant, completed a sea captain-tour guide class. He's now part of a new trend in local tourism, resorts and hotels hiring on short notice specialty guides for their guests who can custom each trip for however much fishing or touring the customer wants to do. And a growing number of fishing guides are catching on.

It might become the niche beleaguered fishing guides are looking for, saving their pride and joy profession by hooking a bigger share of the $600 beach tourism industry.

 

Read more in tomorrow's editions of The Post and Courier.