Charter Boat Captains Say Business Is Coming Back

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Rudy Lesso made a deep sea fishing trip an early birthday present for his 14-year-old son, and their luck aboard the Amberjack couldn't have been much better.

"We went out and had a great fishing trip," says Lesso. "We went through a school of Red Fish and caught our entire limit in about 10 minutes."

But with 40 to 50 gallons of diesel used per charter, the Amberjack's operators have needed more than fishing luck to keep up with rising fuel prices.

"We've had to adjust our prices to it and kind of adjust the things we're doing. It's definitely affecting us, but we're getting through it," says Amberjack Captain James Stanley.

Captain Stanley says despite rising operating costs, they're doing well in a charter boat business still depleted by the devastating 2005 hurricane season.

"There's maybe 40 boats in the business now, probably. I'm guessing. I'm not sure, but there's not many that do it every day."

Repairs and renovations at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor drove the Biloxi Shrimping Tour to Point Cadet Harbor, which Captain Harrison Pittman says is also in much need of repair.

"In the next couple of years, they're going to come back and rebuild they said. We're just waiting to see what happens," says Pittman.

Still, both captains say the charter business is coming back strong, but a little economic good luck couldn't hurt.

"It's definitely a concern," says Stanley. "I mean, you can only do so much. If it keeps going up and going up, we've just got to do what we can."