Catching 22.92-pounds of smallmouth in a tournament is something most would call magical. Catching that weight as a co-angler would probably raise a few more eyebrows. Ultimately, that’s a lot of weight for a bag of smallmouth bass. To get a tournament win from the back of the boat though? That’s icing on the cake. I always think there’s a little luck in bass fishing, but the majority of success comes from reading the water and anticipating movement.
My point to this article is something I hope younger anglers take away from my experience. As a co-angler, you have to watch your boater more than you watch the water. I noticed Steve Krestian was dropshotting (and catching pretty darn good fish as my boater), but for me to choose a dropshot would have been complete ignorance. I always try something different than the guy fishing in front of me; I suppose it’s just the way I’m wired. Other co-anglers don’t see it that way, but I’ve had great success when going against the grain. It doesn’t always pay off, but when it does, it generally produces bigger fish and heavier bags.
Being successful as a co-angler heavily depends on your boater. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t be fishing if it weren’t for him or her. But it also depends on your organization, fishing strengths and the ability to challenge yourself all while trying to beat your competitors and ultimately, the clock. I feel like I owe something to everyone in The Spokane Bass Club. I have fished with so many different guys and gals, it is quite difficult to remember every single takeaway. Regardless of what I have learned, the biggest common denominator is knowledge. The second most important? I’m willing to do bad in a tournament just to learn something new that might provide me with an advantage later on. Think about that…
For anyone looking for advice on joining a bass club, especially as a co-angler or non-boater, it is one of the best fishing decisions you can make for yourself. Fishing new lakes, watching how other anglers approach certain situations and ultimately becoming a “sponge” for all things bass fishing will inevitably help you become a more well-rounded angler. Unless you keep fishing the same exact way and spot hopping from lake to lake. If that’s you, then you’re the majority.
As a co-angler, never bring more than five rod and reel combinations. If you need more than five, you haven’t pre-fished. Also, never carry more than one tackle bag. If you need an extra bag for your lunch, or additional clothing, that’s understood. But if you’re bringing enough gear for two anglers, buy your own boat.
Lastly, I can’t stress the word “respect” enough. Ask your boater for advice on gear. Be polite about your boater’s equipment. Don’t step on his seats with your boots. Never assume the bare minimum of gas money is what you owe. Set expectations as to how far forward you can cast without making your boater angry. Always grab the net, no matter how big or small your boater’s fish is. Respect, anticipate and soak up every piece of knowledge you can.
Knowledge is the advantage. Respect it and it will help you later on.