Some people discover their passion early in life and don’t ever let go of their dreams. Such was the case for fishing boat Captain Andy Bliss ’04.
“I loved to fish from the first time I held a fishing rod. I spent every dollar I had in the local tackle shop,” said the native of Nyack, N.Y. “It was my one true passion.”
Although he knew he wanted to become a fishing guide, he knew he also wanted to earn a college degree and build a better future. He chose SUNY Oswego because “it was the closest campus to Lake Ontario I could find,” he said.
He recalls racing down to the water between his technology education classes to get his line wet, and he still laughs when he remembers his math professor asked him to excuse himself to wash the fish smell off of his hands.
It came as no surprise when he launched his fishing guide service, Chasin’ Tail Adventures, in 2002 while he was still in college.
Today, his full-time business from October through April has him up well before sunrise to meet with one to three anglers and take them in his drift boat for a day of fishing on the Oswego or Salmon rivers—waters that never freeze fully.
Then from May to September, he works with friend and business partner, Capt. Tom Burke, on the boat, Cold Steel. Together, they also compete in fishing tournaments and create many legendary fishing tales—like the time they landed a fish with only three minutes left in the two-day tourney, which gave them the win. That would be the first of many wins during the 13 years since they began competing.
He teaches his clients how to fish for steelhead, salmon and brown trout using a technique called float fishing—or suspending the bait under fixed float a few feet off the bottom and drifting the same speed as the current.
His success as a guide is evident in the numerous photos of happy clients proudly displaying two- to three-foot long fish as well as the clients who return year after year for his guide service and friendship.
Certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as a captain and by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a licensed guide, he also writes a fishing blog, Hotline to Oswego County Fishing, for the Oswego County Tourism Office, where he also serves on the county’s Tourism Advisory Council.
He once joined his friend, the late Oswego-based fishing guide Kevin Davis, on a fishing excursion on the Oswego River with the I Love New York International Marketing Director Markly Wilson and a few travel writers from Germany who were exploring the best fishing areas in the world. Their successful fishing trip helped bring international attention to Lake Ontario and the fisheries of its tributaries.
But at the end of the day, Andy said what drives him is “putting smiles on faces and creating wonderful memories that last a lifetime.” —Margaret Spillett