It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and one day to destroy it. If you are hitching rides at bass tournaments, don’t be ‘that’ co-angler.
Word spreads fast. You don’t want to be the guy that no boater wants to draw on the morning of a tournament. With a little planning, care and consideration you can build a reputation as a solid fishing partner and increase positive experiences on the water.
I’ve broken down into three categories a few common sense things that can be done on a tournament day to make the experience better for everyone.
Okay, we know that your garage is full of combos for every season and technique. But, you are the one hitching a ride, right? Carrying a limited amount of gear benefits everyone. It provides more room on the decks to move and less to for you to juggle. Plan to have four or five combos maximum to serve a variety of situations. You never know where you may be taken.
One tip that helped me was to think about covering the water columns. Make sure that you have some topwater options, bottom options and something for in-between. Another way to think about your gear is to realize your reality: you will be fishing used water. The boater gets first crack at the spot. So, throw a counter strike.
Also, make sure that you are prepared for the elements and not asking to borrow any gear. The boater is not responsible for you other than driving safely.
Learn to back up a boat. If you don’t know how, find someone that is willing to teach you. There’s nothing that can throw off the day more than the boater having to do it all for you.
Be on time. Do not make the boater wait for you. Hustle back and forth from your car to his ride. Even if you know where your gear is going to be stowed, ask anyway. A little consideration on your part can go a long way.
Much like your rods and reels, diversify your lures and terminal tackle so that you don’t have to ask for anything. It’s always nice if the boater is crushing keepers on something that you don’t have and then offers you that plastic or jig, but don’t count on it.
Net the boater’s fish. Don’t ask if you should; just do it. If you successfully net a kicker caught on finesse gear, it will boost your rating for sure.
Ask if the boater cares if you throw ahead of him. I’ve had guys tell me that I can’t cast in front of their deck and I’ve rode with guys that tell me to whiz it by their ear. It really depends on the personality of the boater.
3. Be a Good Guest
Bring gas money. There’s no telling how far the boater drove to get to this body of water. Between gassing up his towing vehicle to making long runs from spot to spot, the boater is putting a lot of money into both of those tanks. The least a co-angler can do is pitch in for the cause. Also, if the boater puts you on fish, don’t be afraid to compensate him for it. It’s not like you are tipping him, but you will be thanking him for making the day memorable.
Bring snacks for you and the boater. Bring sunscreen to be shared. Be willing to run the trolling motor. At the end of the day, offer to wipe down the boat or clean things up. Don’t leave a mess; it’s not your boat, it’s his.
Consider the golden rule and act accordingly. It is easy to think about yourself when it comes to fishing a tournament; however, if you are a rider it doesn’t work that way. Keep it simple; be considerate of the boater’s gear and the fishing will take care of itself.