Bass Fishing

Success From The Back Of The Boat

Fishing Techniques
Fishing From The Back of the Boat

A couple of scenarios come into play when fishing from the back of the boat. The first situation is when you're there to help your buddy; maybe you're in a team tournament or a pro-am event when the guy in the front of the boat is expected to catch fish, and anything caught from the back of the boat is considered bonus fish.

The second situation is when you're fishing against the person in front of the boat. It doesn't have to be in a tournament; maybe your buddy owns and therefore runs his boat, yet you want to earn bragging rights from the back seat. Of course, draw tournaments purposely place the front of the boat against the back of the boat. In this article, I'll cover scenario one, team tournaments.

Let's look at the givens here. You are at the back of the boat. This means you don't control the boat's positioning or speed of movement. You won't usually get access to fresh water first and may not know what fish the person in the front of the boat is after.

Assuming that first scenario - that you're fishing a team event and want to help your partner and maximize your efforts out of the back--BE OBSERVANT! Watch where your partner is casting, what size bait he's throwing, how fast he's retrieving, etc. So many guys don't even look at a lure their partner is using. What a shame!

Let's say you're fishing the back of a cove, and your partner is throwing to the center and catching fish every time. Where you throw in this example means everything.

Being observant doesn't mean you must talk to your partner often. If he's concentrating, that might be a distraction, but noticing what he's doing will make you more effective. Maybe, verify the size line he's throwing or the weight he's using; that and your eyes and ears will make all the difference in your success.

Remember that in any team, shared-weight tournament, the first goal is always to catch a limit of fish. If I were at the back of the boat, I would trust that my front-end partner could get some good keepers, and my job would be to catch fewer but larger fish. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. First, fish larger baits. If I see my partner using a 6-inch worm, I might throw a 10-inch worm.

Second, fish a lot slower. It is sometimes challenging to fish slower when your partner races along a bank at top speed or the wind is howling. In this situation, you should go with a heavier bait. A real heavy spinnerbait, a heavy Carolina rig, or a heavier jig will work, which will get to the strike zone quickly. Then, you must angle your cast toward the front of the boat. Don't throw your bait in the other guy's ear, but you need to give it time to hit the bottom before the boat passes by. But, once in the strike zone, move the bait ever-so-slowly.

Don't get worried if you're not matching fish for fish with the guy in the front. If you try for larger fish and complement your partner, you should view your day on the lake as a success. For example, my team partner for 20 years was a guy named Larry Mantle. He fishes for larger fish and accepts that he may only get a few bites in a day, but he and I know we'll win the tournament on the days he gets 5 or 6 bites.

This next bit of advice concerns those who are in the front of the boat and have drawn a partner for a day to fish from the back seat. Ask your partner about their strengths. For example, it's very foolish if you want your partner to throw a spinnerbait all day and the person doesn't understand how to throw spinnerbaits. Instead, play to the strengths of your non-boater.

Sometimes the person in the back of the boat can teach their front seater a thing or two. I remember a few years back in the U.S. Open. I drew a non-boater named Carol Martens. I had been throwing crankbaits and topwater baits, and when she got in my boat, she had two spinning outfits with worms tied on. I didn't even have a Texas-rigged worm in my boat.

How could I expect her to help me from the back of the boat if I ran the banks with my crankbaits? The wind was blowing, and after the first bank I cranked, I knew it would be a long day for her because I was moving so fast that her poor worm would probably never hit the bottom.

So, I changed my whole strategy, put on a worm, and began fishing her strengths. We pulled back off to the points, and in the end, she caught 8 of our 9 fish of the day. That decision turned a potentially frustrating day for the two of us into a great day on the water.

You can be effective from the back of the boat. Be observant, and you will be surprised at how many fish you can catch. Good Luck.

Reprinted with permission from Bass West Magazine