Meet Your Merchant: Fisherman expands water-sports business to West Shore
Special to the Bonanza
What: SWA Water Sports
Location: Sand Harbor and Ski Beach in Incline Village; and 5160 West Lake Blvd. (West Shore Café & Inn)
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — As Gerald Scholl said heartfelt vows to his wife at the West Shore Café last June, a small thought crept into his mind.
“I can’t believe they don’t have water sports here,” he recalled.
It wasn’t long after his wedding day that the water sports enthusiast and owner of SWA Water Sports expanded his Incline Village location to encompass a beach on West Shore as well.
In the way that there are dog people or train people, people who love to travel or those who are passionate about cooking, Scholl’s life revolves around water.
He remembers catching his first fish as a young boy while camping with his godfather at June Lakes.
“I baited my hook and cast out the line, and from that first time I was hooked,” he said.
‘A GREAT EXPERIENCE’
Since the day of that first fish, working on a boat and being on the water was a priority for Scholl.
Growing up in Southern California, the fisherman got his start on big boats such as the Royal Polaris, a world famous long-range sport boat.
He learned the business of ocean fishing and leading trips through much of Mexico and Costa Rica.
“For me, always being on the water is a great experience,” Scholl said. “Scenically it’s incredible just to be out there and then you’re catching fish on top of it.”
Now Scholl is a lake fisherman and runs trips out onto the waters of Tahoe. Working locally and living locally allows the business owner to lead more of a structured life.
“I get to sleep at home, in my bed, that part of my job is normal,” he said.
Scholl estimates that he has about 7,000 days of fishing experience, 5,000 on the ocean and 2,000 on Lake Tahoe.
PLENTY OF OPTIONS
In his 31 years of experience, he said he has “witnessed a million fish caught in (his) life.”
And like all fisherman, Scholl has the classic story of “the one that got away.” The US Coast Guard captain remembers a large lake trout from last spring that he and other anglers tugged for 30 minutes.
“The fish hooked at 50 feet and ended in 300 feet,” he said. “We never gained a line, it just went deeper and deeper.”
SWA Water Sports is one of North Shore’s first companies to have a triton — a boat similar to a pontoon with a third center “toon” that allows for more performance.
Personal watercraft rentals, boat rentals and charters and water sports lessons also are available through the business.
The company also offers a VIP service. Scholl calls it a “worry free experience on Lake Tahoe,” as guests are provided with a captain and tour guide and can sit back and enjoy the experience.
‘LEARNING ABOUT THE AREA’
Sharing history, facts and old stories about the lake is something the ship captain enjoys daily.
Scholl tailors each trip to clients’ requests, whether it’s a trip to Thunderbird Lodge, or barhopping from Garwoods to Sunnyside.
“You’re always site-seeing when you’re on Lake Tahoe,” Scholl said. “Not only are people going fishing or going boating, but they’re learning about the area.”
Even when his feet are on land, Scholl still dreams of the water. His copy of Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” has been read more times than he can count, and on evenings at home, he and his wife usually watch reality shows like “Wicked Tuna” or “Deadliest Catch.”
“The funny thing is that my wife enjoys watching those programs as much as I do,” Scholl said with a laugh.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is such a thing as loving a place to death, and with the growing masses visiting Lake Tahoe every year, overtourism is a top issue.