Thanks all for the welcome and the good thoughtful responses. Very instructive.
As has been said in several posts, communication is the key. I think I had made some assumptions, and didn't expressly communicate what was expected.
I can completely understand the need to take care of your gear, and not let newbies break or lose equipment. And netting a fish is indeed a skill one needs to develop with practice. To the point, the captain lost a fish at the net that day. So I get it that there is a skill to this.
In this situation, it was a rather choppy day, tough to stay upright in the back all of the time. One needed a good set of sea legs to get it done. And a few folks were sick over the side.
On the other hand, this charter was advertised as one that could include a mate or not, our choice, presumably to do all of those things and more. We opted not to have a mate on board, and that was fine with the captain. So with that in mind, we expected to be more hands on. Probably I should have expressed that at the get-go.
But we did catch a few nice salmon, nothing for the record books and no limits. Fishing Lake Ontario is something I'd like to do at least once a year (4 hour drive for me). Next time we'll be a bit more up front when discussing the booking. I look forward to getting out there again soon.