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Author Topic: Boaters and non-boaters  (Read 1542 times)

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Boaters and non-boaters
« on: April 21, 2006, 12:32:00 PM »

I got permission to post this from the author.? If you want to know about how to be a good tourney partner, this is a must read.

Published, American Bass Anglers Magazine January 2006

Today's Boaters and Non-Boaters

By: David Hagood, American Bass Anglers (Published January, 2006)

Boaters and non-boaters have been apart of American Bass Anglers since the beginning of the MBAA. How the boater and non-boater get along with each other has been primarily left up to the individuals. In 99.9% of the cases, they get along fine and just enjoy a great day on the water together.

Articles like this have been written before but there are some issues that cannot be stressed enough that concern both the boater and the non-boater. If we take a look at it from both sides, each of us should be able to just enjoy fishing with the other. Good fishing courtesy and common sense from both parties will go a long ways toward insuring a great day on the water.

The Boater's Perspective

If you are entering as a boater, you have certain responsibilities.? Your boat should be in good working order. Clean out a storage box for your partner's gear and ideally have a place for their food and drinks. The co-angler should bring a life jacket and some way to mark his or her fish if you have only one livewell, but just in case they forgot or didn't know this, it wouldn't hurt to be prepared for this possibility.? Have some place for them to store their food and drinks.

Boaters should give their partners an equal chance to catch fish. Treat your partner as you would want to be treated.? Don't get so interested in your fishing that you forget to position the boat where they have an opportunity to fish. Many lasting friendships have been formed on the ABA Trail between boaters and non-boaters.

The boater's worst nightmare is drawing a non-boater that is a talker. Not meaning that the non-boater talks a lot when out fishing because that is just part of enjoying the day. What I'm talking about is the fear of taking this non-boater to a key location and catching a winning string and that location remaining his spot. Boaters don't think for a minute that they own the water, but they do work hard to learn locations that are holding fish. The boater's biggest fear is taking a non-boater to one of these spots and that non-boater telling his or her buddies all about it and where it is. A location found by hard work and many hours on the water that is rarely fished suddenly becomes a community hole.

If the non-boater is a person of integrity, then this needs to be their sacred covenant: to never reveal a boater's spots. If boaters know that you are a talker, then you will probably never see good fishing spots that day. Many anglers would rather lose or not do well in a tournament than reveal their best spots to someone they can't trust. However, on the other hand, if the boater knows you are not a talker and you take the privacy covenant seriously, they will most likely be willing to fish their best spots and both of you have? a chance of doing well in the tournament. This could be the single most important thing you do as a non-boater.

Here is an example: you are fishing a tournament as a non-boater and you and your boater are both struggling to catch fish. Two weeks earlier you were fishing in a tournament with another boater and he showed you a couple of good locations. Do you tell the boater where these are so you both do better in today's tournament? This is where you loose if you tell. The boater you are with will know you tell locations and he will not want to draw you in the future because he knows you tell spots.

So what to do? This is an easy one if you think about it. You are out fishing and the boater shows you 4 to 5 spots all day. At each spot simply ask him: "Is this one of your secret spots or can I fish it again in a tournament?" The boater, if they are worth their salt, will tell you clearly one way or another.

I have been in this situation like many have. I was wishing a state level tournament which was a draw event. The boater I drew was a local and he showed me 5 really good spots and we both caught a limit that day. On the way back in, I asked him which of the spots he showed me were off limits and which were ok for me to fish as well? I'm just not a shy person and will ask these things up front. He told me real quickly what spots he would be fishing and what was ok for me to go back to.? I never thought twice about going to any of his spots, nor did I tell anyone in our group about these spots. This same person today will take me fishing any day, anywhere simply because I keep my mouth shut.

The Non-Boaters Viewpoint

There are many reasons why an angler might fish as a non-boater.? Their boat might be in the shop, they may be an older angler that no longer likes to run the front of the boat, they might have health problems and are afraid to fish by themselves, they can't afford a boat, or they may just be getting into tournament fishing
 The non-boater is at this tournament for 3 reasons: to learn, compete and have a good time. At one time or another we have all been non-boaters and, if we boaters think about the three reasons why they are there, we too can have a good time.?

No matter how experienced we are as anglers, we all can learn from our partners. Some non-boaters are just learning how to fish and fishing with different anglers is the best way to do that. You can see different techniques, styles of fishing, and how to use different lures in different situations.

Just because they are a non-boater doesn't mean they aren't there to compete.? They probably would like to win just as much as any boater and deserve a fair chance to do so.

Working Together As A Team

The non-boater needs to be thought of as your team member the day of a tournament. Team members first need to act like a team and discuss things up front. Fuel costs, food, storage, and landing fish are a few of the things you should be discussing with your "Partner" for the day. If the two of you approach the day as a team, you will be at an advantage over rest of the field. Together, working as a team to locate fish and figuring out the technique to catch them, will make your day go even better. Two heads are usually better than one in determining what the fish are doing. You are both after the same thing which is doing well in the tournament and enjoying your day on the water.

Time is of the essence in tournament fishing. When the boater is ready to move to another location, he should tell the non-boater in advance so they can get their gear stored and life jacket on so no time is wasted.

There are other issues that come with fishing together as a team that deserve to be talked about here. Like the respect not to damage the boater's equipment and care for the rig like it was your own. Accidents do happen, but when they do, make it right and pay for the damage. Don't offer to pay, actually pay for the damage.

Be very careful with dyes and attractants.? Don't spill them or let them drip.? If you dip, make sure that juice gets in a cup or the water and not all over the carpet or side of the boat.

If you smoke, discuss this with the boater.? Some boat owners have had the bad experience of their partner burning a hole in their carpet.? Ask if they mind and, if they don't, be extremely careful when you do.

With today's ever rising fuel costs, never make the boater ask for money for fuel; pull out the money and hand it to the boater. Why boaters are leery about asking for the money escapes me. Today's rigs are holding in excess of 50+ gallons of fuel and 3 gallons of oil. The two stroke oil price is up to $20.00 a gallon and you all know how much gasoline costs locally. For a day on the water, the non-boater can take that first step of making the day a great one by putting up some money before blast off takes place. Never offer to do it at sometime, pull some green out and do it up front. Your boater may say let's wait and see how much we run during the day and you can pay me at the end of the tournament.? I don't have the money today and will pay you later is simply not acceptable and you will be forcing the tournament director to take some action.

Boaters, if the non boater stiffs you on gas money, please tell the tournament director. It is not your job to make sure the non-boater follows the rule; it is the non-boaters job to follow the rules.

Recently, we had a member write in and tell his thoughts on the boater/non boater issues and put together a great list of non-boater guidelines. We think these are not only valid points, but something we can all use as guidelines. Again, there are two sides here, the boater's and the non-boater's and as team you can do more than alone (Together Everyone Achieves More).

Co-Angler Guidelines

As many more "fun" anglers get the bug to try their hand at tournament fishing, the best opportunity is to participate as a co-angler, but then comes the question/s: How to go about becoming a backseater and more importantly what is expected of the backseater?? Having had the opportunity to fish as a co-angler in a FLW event and Bass Masters tournament, plus the old Redman (BFL) series, I've learned a lot as to what the host angler expects and would appreciate from his backseater.? The following should help you make the step from fun to tournament fisherman.

1. RESPECT.....a term which covers many of the aspects of tournament fishing!? Respect the boat owner's boat and equipment.? Respect the waters and spots that he will take you to fish at.? Respect the time and expense that he has put into preparing for and competing in the tournament that you are participating in.

a. BOAT & EQUIPMENT.....Most boaters will have a spot for the backseater to store his tackle, etc.? Before throwing your gear on board ask the boater where and how he'd like you to secure your tackle.? If you're EXPERIENCED at trailering, offer your assistance, if not then offer to hold the rope as the boat comes off the trailer...either way be close by to jump in if needed.? Be mindful that you haven't collected something on your shoes before boarding and tracking the same all over the carpet.? Pay attention to your casting and hooks!? If you are not used to fishing from a boat or for that matter from the back of a boat, it is easy to bang your lures against the motor housing, boat console/windshield, or the seats.? I strongly recommend the use of "lure savers", lure covers that you should keep on when not using that particular rod. It prevents the horrors of snagging the seats and arm rests, not to mention saves you valuable time in lures/lines from becoming tangled.

b. WATERS/SPOTS.....Undoubtedly your boater has done his homework and pre-fished or located spots while fishing other tournaments and/or fun fishing.? These spots DO NOT BECOME YOUR SPOTS to fish in another tournament or take your friends to fish.? There are community holes that most anglers know about and then there are those small key areas that anglers have worked to locate and hope to keep to themselves; this is one reason why you'll find quite a few boaters that stay away from the "co-angler draw" tournaments.

c. EXPENSE.....a term that has taken on an even more significant meaning with the increase in gas prices!? ?The boat owner doesn't expect the backseater to share in the expense of buying the boat, maintaining the boat and tow vehicle, plus insuring his investment.....but on the other hand he doesn't expect to be insulted by an offering? of a few dollars or for that matter nothing at all!? ?Think of it this way: if you were to hire a guide for 8 hours on the water, his fee would be anywhere from $200 to $250, which is basically what the boat owner is providing you.? Of course this would be unrealistic, but anything less then $20 is unreasonable.

You do the math: the majority of tow vehicles only realize 11-13 mpg when towing, most local tournaments are 35-50 miles driving distance.? Outboards consume gas at a rate of 2 - 3 mpg (the reason most boats have 40+ gas tanks); fish a large body of water and it's gone by the end of the day.? Now then double all that gas cost if your boater has made the effort to pre-fish and now you realize why $25-$30 is not unreasonable, plus, if there is a ramp fee, take care of it.? Believe me, boaters talk and you can develope a reputation as someone you wouldn't mind fishing with or somebody you never want in your boat.

2. WHAT TO BRING....Trust me you won't need everything you own, because you'll never find the time to use it all.? ?Do a little homework and ask others if they've ever fished the body of water where the tournament will be held.
Visit tackle stores or bait shops, seek out the fisherman/salesperson to see if they can help out.? Larger bodies of water (St Clair, Erie, etc) have websites that will clue you in to what is popular, and, of course, bring 3 or 4 lures that you have the most confidence in.? If possible, limit yourself to 4, but not more then 6 rods and, of course,? from the information you've gathered, your tackle shouldn't consist of more then 4-6 Plano (3700's) tackle trays which will fit nicely in a backpack.? "Baby diaper pins": bring at least 6 so that you can pin your fish (lower lip) to identify them if having to share a livewell. The new clips that attach to the fish's lip are even better. Always bring your rain suit and sun protection, don't forget your sunglasses and it wouldn't hurt to have your own (if you own one) life vest. Couple of waters and a small lunch; forget the chips and other messy food items; if you're serious about fishing tournaments you won't spend much time eating.? I have found a couple of energy bars, a piece of fruit and a couple of waters will fill your needs.?

3.? FISHING.....NEVER cast ahead of the boater.? If the boater misses a fish, don't cast your lure at the fish or spot!? In most instances the boater will throw a follow up lure in hopes of hooking the fish he/she missed and would not appreciate your intrusion.? ?NETTING...if you're not experienced with netting fish, don't be afraid to tell you're boater, better for he/she to know ahead of time so that they can plan accordingly and not find out as you knock their catch off with the net.?

Pay attention to where the boater casts, he/she cannot target all the spots and these will be the areas you will want to cast to.? Almost every pro angler that I fished with and most magazine articles covering co-anglers have stressed the importance of the Carolina rig to the backseater. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits both will allow you, the co-angler, to adjust easily to boat movement which can be difficult if you're attempting to dead stick or finesse fish.? ?Give the boater a heads up if you snag, don't disturb the water (especially if a small cove or such) by trying to horse your lure free.? ?Some boaters don't mind conversation, others would prefer quiet to allow them full concentration.? Let the boater set the tone and know when to just be quiet.

So then, make the effort to follow the above guidelines and your "backseat" experience should be an enjoyable one for you and everyone involved.

Boater's Guidelines

1. Have your boat in good working order:? hot batteries, livewells, kill switch, and depth finders functioning, trolling motor works, spare prop and pins for your trolling motor, and plenty of fuel and oil. A first aid kit and a good tool box aren't a bad idea.

2. Have an open compartment for your partner's gear and a place for their food and drinks.

3. Have a measuring board or some way to measure fish

4. Have a culling system or at least a balance beam.

5. If you draw a partner, give them a handshake, introduce yourself, and assist them with their gear. Show them where to store their gear in your boat.

6. Your partner should bring their own life jacket and something to mark their fish if you just have one livewell. In case they forget or don't know this, it wouldn't hurt to have a spare life jacket and some way of marking their fish.

7. Ice in hot weather and Rejuvenade to help keep fish alive

8. Remember to give your partner an equal opportunity to catch fish. Keep the boat positioned so they can fish.

9. Discuss netting fish and show your partner his or her livewell if you have divided livewells.

10.Give your partner ample warning time if you are going to change locations so they can get ready.

11. Treat your partner like you would want to be treated: with courtesy, respect and consideration. Working together as a team and viewing your non-boater as a partner is going to make for a more enjoyable and productive day for both of you.

12. If your partner is just beginning his or her tournament career and they are doing some things wrong like casting in front of the boat or over your line all the time, take the time to explain fishing courtesy in a diplomatic manner.? That's better than spending the day frustrated and angry.

13. Be your brother's keeper. Isn?t that how we all need to be anyway?
Tom  <><

Refuge Community Church

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