Words by Aaron Wood
Reflecting on twenty-two years of guiding out of Hatteras, North Carolina, Andy Piland remarks, “There are more people, but the attitude is the same. It is a village of people who fish, and enjoy what they are doing.”
That attitude is now thoroughly embedded in Andy’s successor, his daughter, April.
Her story starts early. Andy first took her fishing well before the age of one. From that early age, she never slowed down, “It was always one more,” Andy remarks, an obsession for fishing that April caught honestly.
When April left home to go to college, she often quietly wished she were back home alongside her favorite captain. After graduating, she returned to Hatteras with a bullheaded stubbornness to earn her peer’s respect instead of inheriting it. She worked on numerous boats, stamping her claim on The Outer Banks, refusing to lean on her father’s reputation.
When the chance arose to become Andy’s mate, she seized the opportunity. April reflects, “When we started working together it was like we always had been.” While the two of them never talked about it, April and Andy both knew she would come back to Hatteras with Andy’s boat, The Good Times, her primary target.
“There is a lot of communication between us in other ways than words,” April says, noting experience plays a part, but more so a bond that goes deeper than the water they share. The two of them seem to read one another’s minds, with April anticipating her father’s moves in the tower before he makes them. “She knows what I need and I know what she needs,” Andy adds, but their connection and compatibility as captain and mate transcend your average charter.
When offered the chance to travel abroad and gain experience under Captain John Bayliss, April was torn. Having finally fulfilled her dreams of working on The Good Times as her father’s mate, she wondered, why leave now? Andy, knowing she would always return home as she had before, told her, “I hope you asked when you could start.”
“It was an opportunity for me to grow and learn. You’ve gotta be better, faster, stronger all the time,” April says.
That attitude is more of a Piland ethos, as both Andy and April live and breathe this way of life. “I work every day,” Andy says, “If I’m not on the water, I’m working on the boat or working on tackle. When I do go on vacation, I’m going fishing. . . I guess I’ve got a bad addiction.”
That addiction is something the Piland’s specialize in sharing with their clients, whether targeting pelagics or bottom fishing, they aim to bring people together and foster special memories. “It is so much more rewarding to take a family group out. Maybe in twenty years, they’re like my dad and I. As sportsmen, we have to introduce the younger generations into it,” noting most of those clients have gone on “to become friends—to become family.” The future generations could stand to have another Andy and April Piland, for their drive and passion for fishing is only surmounted by their shared love and admiration.
The Good Times
Over two decades in, Andy’s success as a captain is self-evident by way of a full calendar. While business is good, an abundance of work means more shared time between captain and mate, more memories made, and a bit more of their collective spirit embedded into the deck of The Good Times.