LESS MIGHT BE MORE in the big picture...

Maybe somebody needs to speak up on this. In the West with co-anglers fishing for themselves or in other cases fishing for a shared weight, rewards ought to go for what they accomplish (catch, weigh, contribute) and not how much their carry-on gear exceeds the hull rating.

Strong words, I know, especially for one who’s spent most of his career on the rear deck. I get the backseater’s concerns. But after interviewing both regional and national pros on the matter, the majority view seemed to suggest that a co-angler can prove to be a detriment to both the pro and him or herself by lugging unnecessary rods and tackle systems (duffel bags, tackle boxes, ice chests, or pillow cases) onboard.

Of course, to get these pro boaters to tell me their honest feelings on the matter (not to mention, relating both comedic and horrific stories about excess gear) I had to promise not to use their names. And to my surprise, in general, many seem to have resigned themselves to the risks of slipping on a loose utility box, finding a three-hook topwater in the bottom of the net or watching the bag of key baits given to the co for personal use get blown out of the boat, as just part of the game.

Thus some leave a storage locker empty for their daily partner with the statement, “Bring what you think you’ll need.” And yet I heard testimony that this action was merely a PR ploy protecting the boater from the co-angler later going online and telling all who’ll listen, “That jerk pro xxxx did me in; he wouldn’t let me bring my stuff.”

But speaking as one who has covered hundreds of tournaments over the years: any “draw” partner who thinks the guy on the front deck is happy as a clam when you pull up to his rig with your gear on a forklift, is not paying attention to all the implications. So let me bring up a few.

CASUALTIES OF CLUTTER–If you have not stepped on (directly or just a corner) of a utility box or worm pack when you (or your partner for you) are moving to quickly net a key fish in a crucial moment–count yourself one of the lucky few. A front deck may consist of 40 square feet of foot space, but there is precious little between the fordeck and the driving seats–and there is dangerously less if that space is reduced by loose “stuff.”

Hey. Your spouse doesn’t like clutter, OSHA doesn’t like clutter, and if the co-angler “space” looks like aftermath of a tornado–it’s not good. You can’t argue otherwise.

CONFIDENCE CUTS BOTH WAYS–I realize that not everyone fishes with equal confidence, and for many, carrying every bait that Gary Dobyn’s ever touted in the last 20 years is sort of like a security blanket. You lug it, you hug it–but barely use it. But the pro boater also needs to be confident–confident he will not slip on your junk and get a concussion, confident that a key fish will be landed, not lost to spook or alert a school below. Why jeopardize that?

ORGANIZATION MEANS MORE CASTS–Randy Pringle did a nice bit on “organization” in the March/April BassWest USA, but he could have taken it even further for non-boater/c0-anglers. A warehouse department store is also “organized,” but it is not convenient. When a co-angler is not compartmentalized, labeled and limited in inventory, he wastes time digging and searching, when he could be casting. And how many casts does it take to get a limit? Just five of the right ones–so isn’t that the place to put one’s focus?






9 Responses to “Is the co-angler carrying too much ‘stuff’?”

Great points George. I have fished for years as a co and have seen my success increase when I switched to a small tackle bag with just what I need. I have the essentials and have all my plastics ready to grab. I spend more time fishing and less time looking for that secret bait. My boaters are often surprised to see what I bring and tell me the horror stories of co’s bringing multiple bags that could double as suitcases.

I bring one tackle bag and six rods, and that’s it.

And I never leave my stuff strewn on the deck. If I change baits, I make sure I put all my stuff away before I start fishing again. I keep my stuff out of the way. I hate when people throw stuff around on my boat or leave their rods strewn about, so I do not do that to my Pro partners.

4-6 rods
1 bag that goes at my feet
I can’t rely on a pro to have an space for my stuff nor can I rely on the pro to have or share the right stuff. My bag is a bit large but it holds everything including hat, sunecreen, jacket, Life jacket, water, snack, cull tags, tackle, etc. Some folks have smaller bags but then they have separate drinks and jacket and life jacket, etc.

I don’t know about fishing out West, but I think I have a pretty good handle at this point on fishing in MN as a non-boater. I bring a fair amount of stuff but only once have I had a problem fitting stuff in the boaters rear passenger side storage compartment and that is only because the compartment on that boat was unusually small. If there is no compartment to use, I have one big bag that holds all my tackle and that I think is better than multiple bags. I usually bring 8 rods, but in a big boat I’ll go to as many as 10. I know this is a few more than is usually recommended, but if my rods are tangled that is my problem not a boaters. The key to that many rods is not having treble hook lures on more than 1 rod at a time. Using Norman Speed Clips makes plug changes just about as fast as switching rods so there is no need to have multiple rods rigged with treble hooked lures. With that many rods it is important when moving to not have extra line out, so a lure can swing freely and tangle around the other rods. This is my system and it seems to work pretty good. I’ve only caught less than 5 fish in 2 out of 20 club tournaments and only missed my limit 3 times in those 20 tournaments, so I usually catch my 6 fish limit.

I usually bring what I need…sometimes more and sometimes less. If I am lucky enough to get in a practice day, then, I may have the ability to downsize – Yes, it’s true that it is not necessary to show off your entire tackle arsenal. I carefully select my best bass bustin cranks, blades, top water – etc… I dont need everything I own. Out of respect to the boat owner it is absolutely necessary to keep your stuff organized and tight to your area. If your a messy back-seater, you make us all look bad. Most of the professional anglers that I know who fish from the back deck do a great job and the others need to up their game. Your stuff should never be in the way… if you can’t manage it – don’t bring it.

P.S. Hey George! How about a story on why a Western Bass organization does not compete with the FLW on sponsoring a non-shared weight event or trail? I know a bunch of back-seaters who want to catch their own fish so we can fairly compete against ourselves….Most of the Pro/AAA numbers have been way down throughout the State – perhaps it’s time for a new approach – a new product…

by George Kramer

Roy, thanks for the input. Your opinion really matters in our game. As for the other issue of non-shared weight, let me put it to you this way. Western organizations regularly have a waiting list for shared weight AAA’s for weekend contests. They haven’t had a regular waiting list for pros in several decades.

I drew this noodlehead one time when I had my 17’ Tracker. He shows up at the ramp with 9 rods, THREE bags and two thermos! I seriously asked/told him “Where am I going to put my stuff??” It was a cold day, and the wind was raging. We were fishing the dam and I told him, get ready to move…a few minutes later, I pull up the TM and he is still sitting back there. “Let me finish my coffee first!” He said. We drifted onto the rocks. Then, because he was cold, he stopped fishing with two hours to go. Just one of the reasons I quit that POS club.

I bring one big tackle bag. I put it on the back deck behind the passenger seat. Believe me, it does not move, not even in rough water! LOL