By Bonita Staples
A boating or fishing partner, to some, means the non-boater neighbor, associate at work or a friend from high school or college. To others it is their spouse or significant other, but if you look at it from the non- boater's side, you have the boat and you assume the lead in the adventure.
There are a lot of things we take for granted when we ask a friend to go fishing or a friend asks us to go along on a trip to the lake. To give you some guidelines for fishing etiquette and boating rules, let's start with the boater, or boat owner, first.
As the boat owner, you are the one who usually pulls the boat with your vehicle or drives the boat when on the lake, runs the trolling motor and fishes from the front of the boat. Are you ready for that trip to the lake? Before you go on a fishing trip you should check battery fluid levels and give them a full charge, check your gas and oil levels, check the lights, gauges, livewells and bilge pumps. Is the drain plug in the boat? Is your motor ready to go? Will it fire-off? Do you need a tune-up?
Don't be one of those anglers at the ramp with your boat either in the water, on the trailer, or sitting in the way on the ramp with you and your partner trying to start the motor. It's embarrassing to you and your fishing partner and can ruin a trip to the lake because you were not prepared. You need to maintain your rig properly year round. You can get a motor flusher that fits on the motor's water intakes. This allows you to hook up a water hose and start your motor to see how it is running - before you go to the lake.
Arrange your rods and reels, lures, tackle and other gear so that there is room for your partner to have a place for his or her tackle and gear. You also need to make sure that you have a life jacket for your partner. Pack the ice chest with water, Gatorade or cold drinks and some snacks for lunch for both you and your partner and let your fishing partner know what you are bringing.
Before you get to the water you need to plan how you will launch and what part your partner will take to make this easy on you, your partner, and the other anglers waiting in line. Make sure you give your partner instructions on boat operation and how to work the trolling motor. You never know when you might fall overboard and your life may depend on whether or not your partner can get the boat back to you. Plus, it's nice if they can take over the trolling motor once in a while, when you need to re-tie a lure or just take a break from the wind.
Being a good fishing partner as a non-boater doesn't include as many major responsibilities, but it takes both partners, working together to make a trip fruitful and enjoyable. The non-boater should offer to help out monetarily. Besides the cost of regular maintenance and a yearly tune up, there are the costs of gas and oil for the boat and also for the tow vehicle. Most boat owners will not accept or even ask for the money, if they ask you to go along, but that does not mean you should not offer.
I also suggest that you learn how to back and park the boat trailer or to run the boat, or to back the boat off the trailer when launching. This will make launching go a lot smoother for you both as well as the other anglers at the launch.
You need to keep your rods and reels down to around three or no more than five and your tackle to one or two tackle boxes or bags. This will be more manageable and will not take up much space in the boat. You don't want to trip over your gear while trying to land that lunker. I would also advise you to take along some rain gear to be safe. You never can tell what the weather will be by the end of the day.
Ask your fishing partner to show you how to start and drive the boat. If they don't feel comfortable giving you the reins, pay attention to how your partner starts and drives the boat, just in case you need to operate the boat in an emergency. You should buy your own lake map and study the lake, landmarks, marinas, and launch sites. And pay attention as you are running down the lake as to where you are in relation to the map. Learn how to read a map and, if needed in an emergency, be able find your way back to the launch site.
When you and your partner are fishing you need to watch how and what kind of lure your partner is fishing and fish in a non-conflicting way. You don't have to fish the same exact bait, but use similar or complimenting techniques. If he or she is flipping a jig, you flip a worm. If they are throwing a buzzbait, you throw a spinnerbait or topwater. The idea behind this is you need to match your speed and style of fishing to your partner. It also reduces the chance of your getting hung-up because your partner is moving too fast for the type of fishing you may be doing.
Don't forget to grab the net and help get the fish in the boat for your partner. It's important to learn how to do this properly as well. Fishing with someone is a team effort. You both have to work together.
I hope you have received some beneficial knowledge from this gathering of words and will enjoy my future articles as well.