Sink or Swim as a Co-Angler

The fog has lifted. Your boat number is announced over the loud speaker “NOW IT’S ON.”   Off you go, wide open down lake running 70 miles per hour for close to 15 miles.  The boat slows down and pulls up to a great looking cove with a number of lay downs.  This is what it is all about.  This is why we get up at 4am to fish these tournaments.

You grab that flipping stick with the black/blue jig and make the soft flip to the lay down.  Bump it twice.  “Hey what are you doing?”  You hear from the front of the boat.  “Don’t cast past the windshield.”

Sound familiar?  If you are a co-angler I am sure you have heard it before.

Are there some jerks out there in the front of the boat?  Yes there are some.  Are there some great fishermen with great knowledge out there that are willing to share?  You bet there is.

So what is your role as a co-angler?

What should you expect out of the boater on this day?

I have fished in the front of the boat as well as the back.  Hopefully I can shed some light on this subject.

It all starts with the pre-tournament meeting.  Locate your boater exchange contact information and lodging information and also make sure of a meeting place for the morning.  Talk with each other.  I have found that most boaters are up front about the fish they are on, and they will get you started in the right direction with the baits and techniques that will be needed to start out the day.

Now it should go without saying that you should NOT share with your buddies the boater’s areas or baits.  If you start giving up this type of information you will be done soon in the tournaments fishing world.

Make sure you bring a PFD and lunch.  Don’t expect the boater to provide these items for you.  If the boater has a PFD for you that’s great leave yours in the truck.  You may even get a few extra points when you offer the boater some of grannies cookies to eat.

So how much tackle do you show up with?
8, 9, 10 rods?  NO.
4 bags of tackle?  NO.

If you come walking down the dock with 8 rods and 4 bags of tackle, your boater will likely give you a terrible look.  Right then and there you have started off on the wrong foot.  No more than 5 rods and reels should be brought.  More than that and you are pushing your luck and wearing out your welcome.  You should be versatile enough to be able to cover most water and conditions with 5 rods.  One tackle bag is enough.  I have a Falcon V6 Speed Bag tackle system and rotate boxes out as needed.  Again you should be able to cover most applications with 5-6 boxes that the Falcon V6 bag will carry easily.

Next I will share you my top 5 “Go to co-angler lures”   with you..shhhh don’t tell anyone.
1.  Senko – I have seen boaters cringe when I pull out this fish catching machine.
2.  Tube – 4 inch ½ ounce bullet weight
3.  Drop Shot – 1/4 to 3/8 ounce, 6# line on spinning gear
4.  Spook/Sammy
5.  Jerkbait – Bomber Long A, Lucky Craft, Husky Jerks

These 5 lures are just confidence baits for me.  The biggest part of fishing for me is confidence and that is what produces bites.

“BIG FISH” is yelled from the front of the boat.  What do you do?  Well if you and the boater talked earlier that day you know what to do.  Do you grab the net and run to the front?  I say no, unless the boater calls for it.  Too many fish are lost due to non boater’s who use the net improperly.  As a boater, I have lost fish as a boater because of this.  Also as a non-boater, I have knocked fish off also causing problems for the boater.  So, unless there is an agreement before hand I would not go tearing off up there to net that 6 pound bass.

Well, the day is over.  All of the fishing is done.  The boater pulls up to the dock. You jump off, grab your bag of fish and tackle and say goodbye.  Right?  NO.  It is now your job to help the boater get that rig on the trailer.  After the boat is loaded, get with the boater again in the parking lot and help wipe down this $30,000 machine.  Make sure your trash is not in the boat.  Clean up after yourself.  Make a great impression not just a good one.

You want to be that non-boater that everybody loves to have.  Don’t be the one that makes everyone cringe.

After all of the boat cleaning is done, hand the boater at least $20, sometimes more, depending on how far you traveled, but always at least $20.  I have a Tr20 Triton, and they are expensive to run on a full day of fishing.

Last, but not least, tell the boater thanks for the day on the water.  Let’s not forget our manners because, in the fishing community manners and good sense go along way.

Keith Redd (Reddman),

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