- When Anthony Ritter goes out to work you could say that he's just Gone
Fishing, which is also the name of his four year old full time guide
service business which has him serving as a New York State licensed guide
on the Upper Delaware River.
a 12 year Narrowsburg resident, was a self-employed graphic designer when
he started Gone Fishing Guide Service as a part time guide ten years
ago. Over the last three years, as he began to do more aggressive
advertising and attended sport shows to tout his business, Ritter saw his
booking increase by 20 to 25 per cent each year and the number of trips he
guides rise from 65 to more than 100 trips last year.
lot has to do with repeat business or referrals. In this business if
you do it full you're not on the river from April through November.
In the winter you have to go to the trade shows. These shows
are very important for a service business geared to tours. Forty to
fifty per cent of my customers last year were from Brooklyn, Queens,
Staten Island and Long Island. The sports show in Long Island
is my target audience. I had a good show. I booked four to
said that it is at these trade shows in places like Long Island, New
Jersey and Suffern, that he displays photos of smiling customers who have
caught fish. He also spends time telling prospective customers
that great fishing is just a short trip from the city to the Catskills
like to see men, women and kids catching fish. These are
people who might go to Colorado. My sales pitch is that I can give
them quality fishing by coming up to the Catskills. It only
takes two and a half to three hours from places like Roslyn, Long
Island. People's time is valuable. Fishing
is incredible up here" said Ritter, referring to the main stem of the
Delaware River from Hancock, New York
Port Jervis, New York.
a four-year old sturdy fiberglass Mackenzie driftboat which is
manufactured in the west for use on rivers, Ritter can accommodate two
anglers for half day or full day float trips for fly or spin
fishing. His customers are usually between 30 and 65 years old
and Ritter is catering to an increasing number of woman who are interested
in fishing - especially fly fishing.
who was a graphic designer for 15 years for Conde Nast Publications, said
that he always liked the river and working with people.
"Everyone has dreams. It's a question of, if the phone rings
and someone books with you. I loved to fish when I was young, but I
never thought that I'd be doing this as an entrepreneur and that it would
become a business."
that he is this type of business, Ritter said that he has realized that
businesses in Sullivan County need to have an inclusive philosophy.
He claimed that the area's resort hotels had a history of keeping their
guests on their property. In order for businesses to succeed in
Sullivan County, Ritter said it is crucial that they help one another and
steer customers in each others direction.
you come up from Manhattan or Brooklyn you should go to Callicoon or
Narrowsburg for dinner, play golf somewhere else and go on the
river. Businesses have to work together or they will all go
down. I like to instill that in my customers. For
example, when someone books or inquires, I say we have a nice bed and
breakfast here or there, so that they spend more time and hopefully more
also maintained that he feels it is important that he promote Sullivan
County as well as his own business and he hands out the Sullivan County
Travel Guide when he goes to trade shows.
a website which he launched two months ago and selective print
advertising, Ritter said he informs people that his guide service which
starts in April and runs through November is not just a boat trip.
"People who come up here want to get out of the city and want to
learn about the river and about fishing.
I give them information about the Upper
Delaware River region.
turn people on to the sport of fishing and to the area and show them
different techniques. I'm tying knots for
them and teaching
them how to handle the rod and reel. They
may know saltwater fishing
THE RIVER Anthony Ritter casts a line into the Delaware River looking
for the "big one"
now they are in a river with plenty of rocks and current.
At the trade shows Ritter gets the best opportunity to
attract customers. "They want to look at you, to talk to you -
they want to pick your brain. They are going to be spending the
whole day with you" said Ritter who charges $200 for two for a full
day including lunch and $150 for a half day. If four or more people
want to go fishing, Ritter can line up a second (or third) boat and
With competition from four local river guides as well as
a total of 50 registered guides on the river from other areas, Ritter is
not casual about thanking his customers. After someone uses Ritter
as a guide, he looks back in his date book to see where the people came
from and what their interests were. He sends cards to past
customers and the photo isn't of Santa but of the person catching a fish.
When asked whether he faces any regulations, Ritter
answers that the river is managed by the National Park Service and they
regulate guides. One thing that they do is provide a decal to affix
to a boat so that if someone has a complaint they can identify the
boat. Ritter said that he must carry a minimum of $300,000
liability insurance. In addition, he is responsible for a park
service fee. He must provide information on the number of trips he
takes and the amount of money he earns. He is also licensed by
the New York state DEC in Albany which requires that he know CPR, first
aid and lifesaving.
What's the best thing about his line of
work? "I try to give my customer more than just a fishing
trip. I try to make the day on the river as rewarding as I'd
want my day to be. The best part is getting people enthused
about the outdoors and the sport - especially people who didn't know that
this place existed," he said.