By: Chad Smith, Bass Utopia Pro Staff
When it comes to being a co-angler, there is much more responsibility expected on the front end than one may think. Although there is no official co-angling etiquette book that co-anglers must abide to, there are still some unwritten rules that go hand in hand with the position if you want to be invited back out. Planning ahead, packing manageable equipment and common courtesy are all essential to being an efficient and well-rounded co-angler.
One of the biggest burdens a co-angler can be to their pro partner is wasteful. If the pro has to wait around for whatever reason for their co-angler, it can be extra fishing time missed throughout the entire day. One of the best ways to help the pro be as efficient as possible is to be in your seat when he is in his. Many of the pros I have talked to say that they are ready to up and go once they are seated. My hint is the pro pulling up the trolling motor. The second I see him reach down to grab the cord I instantly reel up, put everything down, and get seated with my lifejacket on. My goal is to be in my seat before he gets to his.
Another way to keep your pro happy is to be on time to everything and be where they need you to be. Planning ahead for a location to meet is essential to capitalizing on time management. Being late or having miscommunication on meeting arrangements can create unnecessary delays. Take the time to clarify everything at the registration meeting the day prior to tournament day to avoid these headaches.
When it comes to performance on the water, you need to stay organized. Managing your rods and tackle brought on board will dodge any calamity of being unorganized in your workspace on the boat. For me, the magic cut- off number for rods is six. Any more than six rods can provoke unneeded cluster that can slow you down when switching techniques and getting to a new spot. Tackle wise I prefer using a good-sized duffel bag. Inside that bag I will use storage boxes for my hard baits, smaller bags for my bagged plastics, and a few extras spools of line in there with some other tools for backup.
Always take into consideration everything the pro has to go through to be where you guys are. They put in all the practice time, pay traveling expenses, boat and truck gas and put in days of practice time in order to get everything pulled together for tournament day. As a co-angler you just get to hop in for the ride. I look at it not just as a sidekick, but an assistant. Making sure you are one step ahead with the net when they hook one and just over all be their third and fourth hand in anyway possible to demonstrate respect.
A critical unwritten rule is contributing to their boat gas. Depending upon the tournament and location the reasonable amount to give them can vary. For instance, when I am fishing in a Bassmaster Open I will give them about $50 per tournament day, a day running a boat around on some of those big lakes, rivers and reservoirs is by no means inexpensive. They are paying much more for their entry fees with a lot more riding on the line, so doing your best to cover some gas will really earn you brownie points with your pro partner.
All of these factors come into play and taking them into consideration will really make you a reputable and appreciated co-angler in any pro’s eyes. Just stay organized, plan ahead and be that helping hand to the pro and you should be in good shape. Think about it this way, its like the Golden Rule, if you were in their shoes, how would you want your co-angler to be?