Quarantine Story: Chris Lilly

Call him Captain

While most kids were planning their spring break vacations, Chris Lilly was planning the next step in his quest to become a captain of a charter boat. He had signed up to take the GLC Training Captain’s Class over spring break, but that was soon canceled because of the Coronavirus. Fortunately, Chris was still able to take the class, just a few weeks later than scheduled and online.


“My goal is to be a charter captain, which is kind of like a pastime, but my plan is to become a teacher and then I can do that in the summer,” Chris said. “My dad has his captain’s license already, and then we just have to get our boat certified and we can lead fishing charters.”


Chris and his father Joe Lilly live in Lexington, Michigan, and have been fishing together ever since Chris can remember, he said. Their goal is to run salmon fishing charters together, once they can get their boat certified, which they should be able to do once the Stay at Home order is lifted.


“The good thing about fishing with him and me is that we both bring different experiences,” Chris said. “We’ve fished with the same people and with different people and different places, so he’ll pick up on some stuff and I’ll pick up on other stuff and we can mash it all together.”


Joe said he’s excited for Chris to be able to take the class. He says he’s looking forward to working with his son and being “his first mate.”

“I’m excited he decided to get that class done. That’s his passion and a dream that he's following,” Joe said. “He started first mating for a couple guys and they talked him into taking it. He worked in the summer with two different charter boat captains and really enjoyed it and decided he wanted to take his class.”



In his captain’s class, Chris has mastered five different topics: the rules of the road, general navigation, chart navigation, deck general, and deck safety. During the course, students learn everything from who has the right of way when crossing a river to tying proper knots on the deck. Chris said the most interesting part so far has been charting.


“I’ve learned how to hand chart, so if you give me the latitude and longitude of your boat and you give me some other variables liked drift current, wind, and how fast you're going, I could tell you on a map exactly where you'll end up in an hour,” he said. “I have this chart now that I swear that fills up my whole kitchen table.”

Because of all of his past experience in fishing and boating, Chris said he’s already accumulated 720 days on the water, which means he can register for his international license as well, and then he can go out on the oceans.


Between the beginning of quarantine and the start of his class, Chris said he and his dad were out on the water pretty much every day that they were allowed. He’s even picked up a new skill: vertical jigging.

“The fishing has been pretty good this spring, we caught a decent amount, enough to eat and everything, but we’ve been limited to how many we can catch due to how many people we had,” he said. “I’ve also gotten into vertical jigging down in the St Clair river. My dad and I are talking about maybe next year getting our littler boat certified for that. The reason it’s fun is that it’s simple.”


Chris said he plans to spend his summer on the Great Lakes before he heads to St. Clair County Community College to continue his education and wrestling career. He’ll start out on Lake Huron in Grindstone City near the tip of the thumb, then head northwest to Frankfurt where he’ll spend time in August on Lake Michigan.

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© 2020 by Calli Townsend.