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Do's and Don'ts of Co-Angling

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I am looking to fish the co-angler side of the BFL next year and I just want to make sure I am practicing good co-angler etiquette. I have fished in a co-angler spot here at Troy University, just wondering how much tackle is too much, rod numbers, etc... I definitely don't want to tick anyone off, I'm sure there are some guys here with experience on this topic, so all input is much appreciated.

By the way I usually take 5 rods, is that too much for co-angling?

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It all depends on where you are fishing and what baits you like to fish. I have been taking 4 rods, but sometimes will take 5. I also take a small tackle bag that fits 5 falcon boxes. I try to travel light, because I hate wasting time with tangled rods and reels. If you can get a general idea on what you will be throwing at the lake/river/etc.. then take the equipment necessary. For instance if I am fishing a Potomac tourney I will take 4 rods. I will take a frog rod, flipping stick, trebel hook rod, and a senko rod.

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Look in the articles for "Co Angler's Clinic."

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I'm with Robby here, I usually take 1 tackle bag, and 4-5 rods and my culling system. No excess gear if it's not my boat, though I will usually have quite a bit in the hotel for swaps as I see fit day to day.

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1.  Give the boater some cash the night of the tournament.  You may have to give him more depending on the run you make, but giving the boater cash shows that you know that it is your responsibility to foot some of the gas bill.  At the BFL regional, both my boaters declined the cash, I gave it to them anyway b/c word will get around quick that you short a boater.

2.  Ask the boater how many rods and gear.  They will tell you.

3.  Bring your own life vest and face mask. 

4.  Try not to talk too much.  Some of my tournaments I did not pre-fish, and was able to stay at a relatives house, so my expense for the tournament was about $175.  However, the boater has gas for truck and boat, hotel, higher entry fee.  Even though you may have limited investment, the boater more than likely has some cash tied up, so let him concentrate.

5.  Be upfront and let the boater know you will probably get hung up (hopefully not), and how to get un hung without disrupting the grove.  Also, let him know that you will not purposely throw in front of him. 

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1.  Ask during the pre-tournament meeting ask what the boater is on.  Adjust your tactics to what has been working for them.  They are going to fish what they found during practice.

2.  Never, ever front the boater.  If you accidentally do, immediately apologize and be more careful with your casts.  When I accidentally fronted the boater and immediate apologized, they didn't get offended. 

3.  By all means, offer the boater money before the tournament or right after weigh-in for gas.  Some will refuse, but most appreciate your contribution to the day.  I do $20 minimum but more if a big run was made during the day.  I adjust based on current gas prices.

4.  If the boater wants to talk, then talk.  But if the boater is so focused there is no conversation, keep comments to yourself.

5.  Be a great net man.  Watch out of the corner of your eye and when you see your boater has a fish on, GRAB THE NET.  The boater will dictate whether he needs the net or not, but being fast on the net will gain you some respect that will be reciprocated when you have one on.

The biggest thing is to enjoy the experience. 

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So 20 dollars is enough to offer minimum? And are we providing money for the entire tournament, or just every day before hand?

Also how do you think your pro's over the years have treated you?

I'm young and from the west coast (not that has any bearing) but hey you don't know. I only say this because I know most of you are from the East and midwest. But what am I talking about I grew up in jersey. I think I'll be ok ;)

I will be fishing the FLW Outdoor series this year just a few East Coast events, any advice from experience is appreciated.

Also my big question is how big of a tackle bag do you bring? Like 4-5 3600-3700 boxes?

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1.  Give the boater some cash the night of the tournament.  You may have to give him more depending on the run you make, but giving the boater cash shows that you know that it is your responsibility to foot some of the gas bill.  At the BFL regional, both my boaters declined the cash, I gave it to them anyway b/c word will get around quick that you short a boater.

2.  Ask the boater how many rods and gear.  They will tell you.

3.  Bring your own life vest and face mask. 

4.  Try not to talk too much.  Some of my tournaments I did not pre-fish, and was able to stay at a relatives house, so my expense for the tournament was about $175.  However, the boater has gas for truck and boat, hotel, higher entry fee.  Even though you may have limited investment, the boater more than likely has some cash tied up, so let him concentrate.

5.  Be upfront and let the boater know you will probably get hung up (hopefully not), and how to get un hung without disrupting the grove.  Also, let him know that you will not purposely throw in front of him. 

1. Ask during the pre-tournament meeting ask what the boater is on. Adjust your tactics to what has been working for them. They are going to fish what they found during practice.

2. Never, ever front the boater. If you accidentally do, immediately apologize and be more careful with your casts. When I accidentally fronted the boater and immediate apologized, they didn't get offended.

3. By all means, offer the boater money before the tournament or right after weigh-in for gas. Some will refuse, but most appreciate your contribution to the day. I do $20 minimum but more if a big run was made during the day. I adjust based on current gas prices.

4. If the boater wants to talk, then talk. But if the boater is so focused there is no conversation, keep comments to yourself.

5. Be a great net man.  Watch out of the corner of your eye and when you see your boater has a fish on, GRAB THE NET. The boater will dictate whether he needs the net or not, but being fast on the net will gain you some respect that will be reciprocated when you have one on.

The biggest thing is to enjoy the experience.

Overall there is a lot of good advice in here.  But I would like to point out a few things.  First you will get stuck in a boat with a boater who does not want you in his boat some times. 

1.)  Do not take any grief from them, you are not in the boat to be thier errand boy. 

2.) You are there to fish from the back.  If you feel the boater has front ended you ask him about it, if you cant resolve it with him then go to the TD at the weigh in. 

3.) Ask ahead of time if the boater wants help with the net, if so make sure to talk about how to net the fish.  If he isnt netting your fish do not net his. 

4.) Always offer some gas money, but if the boater is doing excessive running throughout the day do not feel as if it is your responsibility to pay for all the gas he burns. 

The boater does have more money invested in the tournament than you, but you have a right to be there fishing just like he does.  Do not let him intimidate you or treat you wrong.  It should be an enjoyable experience for both of you if you follow common courtesy.

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Yeah, I think simply communication is key. Hopefully they will talk with you. I am sure they will since they always have a co-angler with them anyways.

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Be on time

Know how to use a net or be able to lip fish

Abide by the rules of the boat and tournament

Be courteous, or firm, but be ready to stand your ground if you are sure you are right

Pay the agreed fee for gas, oil, ice, etc.

If you happen to stick a treble hook between my shoulder blades( or anyone else you happen to draw), (Or anywhere else I or someone else cannot get to), have the know how, and be man or woman enough to remove it.

I can live with that.

Jack

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My offer for gas money is made after the tournament is over. I would not offer my $20 minimum at the beginning and then be exposed to a 5 minute run and troll the rest of the day.

I always make the offer after the tournament, when I can fully evaluate the day's runs that were made.

If the boater runs 5 minutes from blast-off and trolls the rest of the day, I would explain to them that with that small of a run on the big motor, I don't feel obligated to provide gas money. Each situation is different and you have to evaluate each individually. You also have to take into account the attitude the boater had during the day in response to recommendations you were ASKED for by them. In one tournament on my local lake, I had the boater make a run that didn't produce, but he took my advice and made the run. I felt that I should give more based on his taking my advice. What you have to realize is the scale is a sliding scale based on the day.

Don't lock yourself into something that is not fair to you before the tournament starts. Always see what runs were made, even to the point of seeing the gas gauge before blast-off and comparing it to the idle into weigh-in. I have used this technique and guessed the amount of gas used and made my offer based on this.

So far, I haven't had any issues when making the offer of gas money to the boater using my techniques. I do admit that I am over analytical when it comes to giving someone money that I have worked hard to get into my bank account.

All the boaters I had this past year on the BFL, every single one came up to me at successive tournaments and asked how I did that day. To me, I had gained respect from the boater by being a good net man and paying my share of the expenses of the day we shared together on his boat.

To me, the biggest thing you can do when fishing draw tournaments is gain respect from your partner as an angler and a person. Your reputation will grow whether you catch fish or not.

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1. Give the boater some cash the night of the tournament. You may have to give him more depending on the run you make, but giving the boater cash shows that you know that it is your responsibility to foot some of the gas bill. At the BFL regional, both my boaters declined the cash, I gave it to them anyway b/c word will get around quick that you short a boater.

2. Ask the boater how many rods and gear. They will tell you.

3. Bring your own life vest and face mask.

4. Try not to talk too much. Some of my tournaments I did not pre-fish, and was able to stay at a relatives house, so my expense for the tournament was about $175. However, the boater has gas for truck and boat, hotel, higher entry fee. Even though you may have limited investment, the boater more than likely has some cash tied up, so let him concentrate.

5. Be upfront and let the boater know you will probably get hung up (hopefully not), and how to get un hung without disrupting the grove. Also, let him know that you will not purposely throw in front of him.

I disagree with number two. You should bring what you need to bring, but still be respectful. Don't short yourself what you need to use for the day.

Not all boaters are the better than you. If you have a suggestion voice it, if you were on fish tell him. You have money in the tournament as well so have a good time. If that includes talking go ahead. He knew what he got himself into when he signed up.

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I guess bottom line, every boater is different, hopefully they aren't a jack*** :) and can just communicate with you.  Doesn't hurt to ask.

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I'd recommend starting out in a team format, as a co-angler.  This way, you won't be competing against the boater.  You both contribute fish to the weigh in.  Once you learn the ins and outs of tournament fishing, then try your hand at the non boater  thing.

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I will be, I am doing 6 team events before the start of next season. First one is this weekend!

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There's some good advice here and some that I honestly don't care for too much. I have fished some FLW events as a co-angler, and have not had a problem at all with any of the Pros. Now, I wouldn't invite some over for dinner, but the key is to be professional yourself. You're both in it to catch fish, not make friends...although I've made some great friends over the past few years. After speaking with a bunch of pros, here's a few things that seem to bother them quite a bit.

-Be organized!!! A person that's a slob and has their things spread all over the floor of the boat and back deck is a no-no. It makes it hard for both of you to move around when netting a fish or moving from spot to spot. Which brings me to the second "don't".

-The pro will almost always tell you a minute or two before he's going to make a run with the big engine. He'll probably keep casting until you're packed up, so that means pack up all your stuff NOW and get in the passenger seat and put you're life vest on. He shouldn't have to wait for you. If your stuff is organized, it isn't a problem.

-And lastly, don't cast toward the front of the boat without permission. Either ask or he'll let you know if it's OK. There's plenty of water to fish out of both sides and rear of the boat. It is his boat after all, and we need to be respectful of that.

I always give at least $20 at check in, often more depending on how far we've run and gas prices. Again, it is his boat, and I feel I owe at least that much for the wear and tear. The money they have tied up in boats and everything else in the game is unthinkable.

The best advice I can give is BE RESPECTFUL out there!!! It goes a long way, and it's hard for someone to treat you badly when your being respectful!

Good luck!

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There's some good advice here and some that I honestly don't care for too much. I have fished some FLW events as a co-angler, and have not had a problem at all with any of the Pros. Now, I wouldn't invite some over for dinner, but the key is to be professional yourself. You're both in it to catch fish, not make friends...although I've made some great friends over the past few years. After speaking with a bunch of pros, here's a few things that seem to bother them quite a bit.

-Be organized!!! A person that's a slob and has their things spread all over the floor of the boat and back deck is a no-no. It makes it hard for both of you to move around when netting a fish or moving from spot to spot. Which brings me to the second "don't".

-The pro will almost always tell you a minute or two before he's going to make a run with the big engine. He'll probably keep casting until you're packed up, so that means pack up all your stuff NOW and get in the passenger seat and put you're life vest on. He shouldn't have to wait for you. If your stuff is organized, it isn't a problem.

-And lastly, don't cast toward the front of the boat without permission. Either ask or he'll let you know if it's OK. There's plenty of water to fish out of both sides and rear of the boat. It is his boat after all, and we need to be respectful of that.

I always give at least $20 at check in, often more depending on how far we've run and gas prices. Again, it is his boat, and I feel I owe at least that much for the wear and tear. The money they have tied up in boats and everything else in the game is unthinkable.

The best advice I can give is BE RESPECTFUL out there!!! It goes a long way, and it's hard for someone to treat you badly when your being respectful!

Good luck!

Hey I really like that advice about attitude, I generally think I am respectful, and I really like that KVD quote.

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Thanks man. Just remember, keep a positive attitude and fish for the fish that are in front of you. Always do your homework before you fish, even as a co-angler.

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Of course it is series dependant but I sure wouldn't be a heel just because I was a co-angler.

I don't consider BFL boaters Pro's. Some are great, some just prefer to use their own boat regardless of skill level.

I think that some of the things need to be reciprocal. I'm not netting a boaters fish if he just keeps fishing when I need the net.

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Commend respect: if you do not have it both ways, maintain your Owen, because you paid for the experience and the chance to advance.Its a rule to show some dues to the angler your with, but not mandatory,only from the eyes of the angler.I was with a gentleman years ago and I had offered him some cash, and he took it like an insult.Also do to the fact he was working a top water pattern, and my spinner bait wore him out.Did not place though.Read the body language closely to determined the demeanor of your host.Good Luck.

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