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From College to Captain: Virginia man becomes fishing boat captain at 21

(Credit: WSET)
(Credit: WSET)
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Weston Hartman grew up loving the waters of Smith Mountain Lake.

"My grandfather got me into fishing, and has taught me a lot. That's all my grandfather, my love of fishing was inspired by him," said Hartman.

The Northside High School graduate used to go to the lake and fish for fun, but never thought about making it a career until 2020.

In his second semester of college, the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to come home.

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"That made me realize that I didn't want to do what I was in college for. So, I spent some time thinking what I wanted to do," Hartman said.

That’s when he decided that he would make his hobby his job, and become a full time Fishing Charter Boat Captain.

"I took a leap of faith, bought this boat, and now we're in a year of running Hartman Guide Services," said Hartman.

His boat, the SML DAZE, is decked out with the newest technology, but it's his lifelong experience navigating these waters that makes the real difference.

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"It's all experience. You can read as many books as you want, go to as many websites as you want, experience is all that matters out here," said Hartman.

Hartman is only 21-years-old.

"We asked him, 'Man, you even old enough to buy a pack of smokes or drink a beer, man?'" said one of his clients.

"So you're the captain? I get that every single morning," Hartman said.

But don't let that fool you, customers say Hartman is as seasoned as anyone when it comes to finding fish.

"He put us on the spot, he said they were going to come, we baited it out, waited around, just like he said big 'ole school of fish coming," said another of his clients from a morning charter.

The catch that they returned to shore proves, Hartman knows fish.

His day starts just after 2 in the morning, getting bait for the day's fishing trips, but Hartman says he couldn’t have snagged a better career.

"I went from fishing every day, to taking people fishing every day, that's the only difference," said Harman.

If you'd like to book Hartman for a fishing charter, visit his website by clicking here.

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