CLAY — Patrick (PJ) Tucci has a message to business and nonprofit managers planning a corporate outing for employees or clients or setting up a fundraiser: Don’t just reflexively reach for the golf course. Try a day out on the water catching fish instead.
Tucci and his wife Tracie own and operate T.I. Fishing Charters, LLC, which they operate from their two homes in Clay and Alexandria Bay. The charters run from May through November.
“What we offer is corporate fishing charters for businesses as an exciting way to show appreciation to their clients, employees, and even their suppliers,” says PJ Tucci, captain, noting that his business also organizes fundraising fishing tournaments. “One of the benefits is you don’t need to know how to catch a fish. With golf, it’s difficult. It’s tough to keep up if you haven’t practiced.”
He adds that the islands, castles, and wildlife are also attractions charter customers enjoy. “It seems to bring a lot more excitement than being on a closed golf course,” Tucci says.
In his day job, Patrick Tucci is general manager of Sposato Floor Covering Co. in Salina. He has worked there for six years. He’s also just hit the six-year mark since launching T.I. Fishing Charters in June 2007. Tracie Tucci is an IT recruiter at Contemporary Personnel Staffing, Inc. and Professionals, Inc. in Salina. On the fishing boat, her role is as first mate — helping the passengers onboard, including handling the tackle, baiting the hooks, and helping reel in the fish.
“She is actually a much better fisherman than I’ll ever be,” PJ Tucci says. As captain, he focuses on steering the 25-foot boat (a 2005 bay boat made by Florida–based Pursuit, Boats, Inc.) and putting it into the right places to catch a lot of fish.
T.I. Fishing Charters handles the whole trip, from start to finish, for clients, Tucci says.
“We would handle transportation, catering, and lodging if necessary. We make it an organized process, similar to the way they organize holiday parties or a golf outing,” he says.
The boat can accommodate six passengers. But with the help of fellow fishing guides and charters from the Alexandria Bay Fishing Guide Association, T.I. Fishing Charters can make arrangements to provide a fleet of 10 or more boats for large corporate or nonprofit groups.
A staple of the experience that T.I. Fishing Charters offers clients is the traditional shore dinner, which dates back to the late 1800s when boat oarsmen would stop at midday to prepare the days catch, according to Tucci. Today, his charter firm has a private location overlooking the Bolt Castle, where clients can relax and watch the ships navigate the St. Lawrence Seaway. The shore dinner menu consists of bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich appetizers, tossed salad with Thousand Islands dressing, salt potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh pan-fried fish, and French toast for dessert, Tucci says.
T.I. Fishing Charters’ past clients have included IBN Financial Services, Mass Mutual, Daltile, The MOST, Arc of Onondaga, CenterState CEO, and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, according to Tucci.
The business has grown organically through referrals and word of mouth, he notes.
“Being in the corporate world created some connections. It came up in conversations and meetings with clients,” Tucci says. “Our passion was to introduce people to the fishing up there and specifically how business could benefit.”
That passion started at an early age for the Tuccis.
“My wife and I have grown up on the St. Lawrence River and have fished that area our whole lives. We started out taking friends, co-workers out on the water,” says Tucci. “What started out as a hobby turned into a business. It happened naturally.”
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