Down in Hopedale, Louisiana, at his dock on Hopedale Highway in St. Bernard Parish, Tony Goutierrez is sorting the crabs he caught that morning. Goutierrez has been a commercial fisherman for a half century — long enough to know his profession no longer makes ends meet.
"You see what we had this morning”, Goutierrez explained, “That was $220 worth of crabs, and you had $100 worth of bait, and $100 worth of fuel to get here, so it doesn’t add up.”
He’d like to keep making a living on the water, but he needs a new idea. Out on his boat, Goutierrez sees a lot of amateur outdoorsmen, hoping to make a big catch. But they’re often setting up shop just a few miles from the sweet fishing spots. Seeing this, it hit him — helping tourists find the fish could make him some money.
“We can bring ‘em to the location and they can be fishing instantly, and bring ‘em back and they can have a nice place for them to clean their fish and do some boiled seafood or something, do something to bring back people here.”
Easy, right? Not exactly. There are lots of charter boat captains. But Goutierrez’s plan is to buy a bunch of kayaks, take groups out on the water, and let them loose for a few hours to fish. That means prettying up the four lots he owns on Hopedale Highway and turning them into camping grounds.
“I’d have to get the ground ready, get all the septic systems in, the electrical hook ups,” Goutierrez anticipates. “You gotta be ready for these weekend warriors. I mean, that’s what it’s gonna be.”
Then there’s getting the word out, brochures, a website, a Facebook page. This is totally different than what Goutierrez has been doing for the past 50 years.
“I have to buy the kayaks, that would be totally new to me because I’ve never been in a kayak!”
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