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Often, I fish with a buddy as a co-angler. Trips in my boat are much easier, because loading my gear over to another guy’s vessel is much akin to inventory week at Bass Pro Shops. You at this very moment might just have a “yep, I know” look on your face. Sometimes we are fishing a tournament, and I want all of my “tools” at my disposal. Spinning gear, rods with various backbone and tip. Heavy flippin' stick, medium weight for throwing lighter weight baits and a truckload of medium heavy rods rigged with various ready to go baits; we are just getting started. My tackle bag weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty pounds. It’s like carrying a bale of alfalfa hay with you all day when your in another guys boat. He, rightfully so, is using all of the storage space because he never misses a sale at the local bait n tackle store either. So…there’s Bertha the bag. Smack in the middle of everything and surrounded by eight rigged rods ready to go.
Sometimes it’s a fun trip. Just fishin'! You meet your buddy on the dock as he motors in toward you, all the while explaining "how the large-mouth had been schooling for forty five straight minutes and would eat a lug nut if you threw it in their direction. Never seen anything like it…had to leave em to come get you.” Fun trips are easier. More like moving from a small apartment rather than a six bedroom three story. Here are a few common sense ideas for fishing from the back of the boat for fun and tournament fishing.
On a fun trip, think convenience-Convenience for yourself and your buddy. If everything you bring has three sets of treble hooks, the boat captain is gonna get sick of taking you to your hang-ups. Unless there has been an incredible crank bait bite or jerk baits are the only way to catch em right now, I lean towards single hook setups from the back of the boat. Your gonna hang up, it’s just a part of fishing. If you’re not fishing where the junk is, you’re more than likely not going to catch them. But, single hook setups cut the numbers waaaaay down. I think top, middle, bottom (water column) and bring one rod and reel for each depth. I take along a spinning rod with 10 or 12 pound fluorocarbon for drop shots and finesse stuff in case of a tough bite. I include a bait cast setup with 12-14 lb mono for search baits. Typically a spinner-bait or swim-bait. A second bait cast setup has heavier fluorocarbon, 14 lb for flipping creature baits into flooded timber, shoreline habitat boat docks/houses etc. With this mentality, I’ve now dropped from 6 or 8 rods to three. I’ve also left Bertha at home and now carry three bait boxes. A spinner-bait/chatterbait/swim-bait box, a finesse box with small terminal tackle and a worm box with bigger soft plastics, hooks, weights etc. Nothing you borrow will fit you better that your life vest. It’s the one you have confidence in and it’s important to bring it. Snacks, a couple of bottles of water…good to go.
Things change when you are fishing the back of the boat in a tournament situation. The thing that you need the most is the easiest and lightest thing to pack...knowledge. Homework is key. Previous tournament results, successful seasonal patterns, your boater's preferred techniques, the weather forecast and lake knowledge-all important pieces of a winning strategy. With that said, a lot of gear goes along with it. Baits that have had success on this body of water, the rigs that will fish them properly, rain gear, top middle bottom baits to match your boater's preferred areas (where the trolling motor goes, you go). Time and the thrifty management of it may be the difference in cashing a check and posing for pictures. Rods rigged and ready are big time savers. A half dozen on the deck. A pattern emerges during the day on a bait that you’d never have suspected…good thing you brought Bertha along…”cause I know I have a couple of those in here somewhere”. You’re gonna need your stuff. New backpack and specific to co-angler bags are on the market now that allow you to carry a ton of stuff (if not all of it), lunch and a few drinks in them. I use one of the new backpacks that allow me to stow my big bait boxes vertically rather than Bertha’s horizontal option, cutting storage space down to the floor between my seat and the front deck...perfect co-angler option. I can also lift and carry this backpack with one hand instead of needing both, meaning one trip from the parking area to the boat. One of the greatest discoveries that I’ve made is a lunch idea. Uncrustables! PB and J sammiches!!! Pre-made, individually wrapped, compact, crust trimmed away just like mama used to do it, time savers, sealed edges to prevent grape jelly on the carpet, delicious and perfect for boat or blind! And….they taste great.
Manners are another item that takes up no space but gets you invited back. Less is more, pack light. Pay for the gas, it's expensive to run all day or two. Bring the ice. Be handy with the net for your boater, back the trailer at launch and load. Offer up the Uncrustables...You're both gonna want several throughout the day. Share info without being a know it all. Pay attention to your boater. If he/she likes to talk…talk. If they don’t...shut the pie hole and fish. Cast to your water, it’s in the back like you, unless the boater invites you to forward cast. Don’t depend on the boater to supply your gear. Baits, culling clips, pliers, baits, rain gear, line, hooks, weights, towel, stuff...buy the big backpack!
June 28, 2019