With the new season approaching I wanted to write about how to make a day as either a boater or non-boater fun and beneficial to both people in the boat. This is talked about the most among fishing friends but the least between boaters and non-boaters.
First of all, there are no “unspoken rules.” If I have a rule then I let it be known to my co-angler. You shouldn’t get upset about something that hasn’t been discussed. Communication, like in relationships, is key to a good day on the water, especially with someone you’ve only known a few hours. (If you’re lucky.) Tournaments are competitive enough, add undue stress between angers the same 20’ boat and you’re destined for failure. It’s also important as a boater to never assume you’re better than the angler in the back or treat them as any less of a person. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen it and heard about it happening many times.
If there is a pre-tournament meeting, which most all do, then be sure to be at the meeting and meet your co-angler the night before.
As a boater if you have pre-fished, then you may want to give your co-angler some information as to whether or not you are on fish or not. If you are, then give them a heads up as to where and how you are catching them. To me, the best anglers are the ones who want their co-angler to also be successful throughout the day.
Non-boaters should be understanding that you’re going fishing with a person that is making payments on a boat and filling it up with gas. This can get expensive so as soon as greetings are out of the way, ask the boater how much they need to cover gas for the truck and the boat. Also, be sure to ask how many rods, reels, and tackle you need to take. Most anglers provide you with an empty box and some will just expect you to carry a tackle bag. Either way, you don’t want to show up lugging 10 rods and two tackle bags. As a non-boater, I carried five most of the time and made sure that they were versatile and handle whatever I needed them to. As far as tackle, I packed my confidence baits as well as whatever my boater stated I needed to bring.
If you can’t back a truck and boat, PLEASE let your boater know before hand. Don’t try to learn on tournament day in someone else’s boat. Also be sure to bring your foul weather gear and some high calorie snacks to get you through the day. If the day is going slow, you can always offer information you have concerning the lake or how people are catching them. If the boater doesn’t want to listen, don’t push the issue. When you’re getting ready for blast off ask the boater if he expects you to net fish and if so how he likes for you to do it. Also let him know you expect the same. Talk about casting. Is there a centerline in his boat you aren’t supposed to cast past? If he is throwing 45 degrees to a bank, can you cast a little further up the boat?
Do not dip or smoke in an angler’s boat without permission. I don’t allow smoking or dipping in my boat. Also do not use products that can dye the anglers boat or carpet without permission. I don’t allow dipping dyes in my boat at all. As a non-boater you also have to be ready to go in a minutes notice, so be sure to keep your gear nice, neat, and out of the way at all times. At the most, keep two rods out. I always let my boaters know we’re leaving in two or three minutes so they can start getting their stuff together to move. Also let the boater dictate the conversation level, some will not talk much at all and some will be chatty Kathys. I personally enjoy talking with anyone.
This may seem like a lot but it’s just the basics. There is just as much responsibility on the boaters to make sure you have a productive day. For the boater: Don’t be so proud that when times are tough you don’t ask the co-angler if he has any info or knowledge of the lake or what the fish are doing. Try your best to give your co-angler some productive water, especially if you already have a good limit. As a boater, if I found a bait they were biting really well I would offer my co-angler one if I had an extra. I also laid down the ground rules first thing in the morning, I didn’t let them learn the hard way. To me the word “co” or “non” didn’t have any bearing on how I treated them. They are all treated with respect because at days in they are a person just like me. I have had co-anglers beat my eyes out and never once did I get mad of “back boat” them. Heck, I laughed and referred to myself as their “guide” for the day.
I’m sure that I’ve missed some things, but this is a general coverage of a few things to consider. Some anglers will become life-long friends with their co-anglers and some will hope they never lay eyes on each other again. But to be honest, as long as there is an open line of communication the day will more than likely be a fun one, even if not successful. Be competitive, but have respect because you will be remembered a lot longer for how you treated someone rather than what you caught.
5X3. No excuses!