Fisherman have a standing joke about their wives coming fishing with them – and how it will NEVER happen! I got lucky and married the rare guy who LIKES to take me fishing. Over the past 17 years, I have learned a lot about being a good fishing buddy. Some of this is tournament “etiquette” and some of it is just good common sense if you want to have a nice day with your loved one or friend. It doesn’t matter what gender you are – there are some simple things every one of us can do to be a good fishing buddy. Follow these tips and you’ll be invited back for MANY fishing trips!

Your Space, My Space

Rule #1 – stay out of the way! Stepping on equipment, casting over your partner’s line and crowding them in the boat certainly won’t win any points as a favorite guest. If you are the “co-angler”, you should be in the back of the boat until invited up front. Keep your stuff back there with you, too.

Let’s define “back of the boat” according to most tournament etiquette. The console is the center of the boat. As a back of the boat angler, I do my best not to cast in front of it. My space is from the console to the motor. I can cast in any direction, as long as I stay within the back half of the boat.

Its quite popular now in bass tournaments to have both anglers on the front deck. Many boats have gone to wider, longer front decks that accommodate this style of fishing. If your partner is ok with this, there is obviously a whole new set of rules. Its best to discuss your lure choice and parameters so you don’t end up getting tangled in each other’s lines, feet or equipment.

Compliment Your Partner

Although “you look great in that hat” may score you some brownie points, this is not the type of compliment I am referring to. To be a good fishing buddy, compliment your partner’s fishing style.

There are a few ways to do this. The first is to cast off the side of the boat my partner is not. If he is casting toward shore and fishing shallow, I will often fish the inside edge of the deep weed line or cast along the edge of the weed line behind the boat. In this way, we are covering two different areas and maximizing our fishing zone.

Another way to compliment your partner is to follow the same casting line with a different bait. If he is throwing a fast moving search bait, I will follow up with a different fast moving lure.  For example, if he is throwing a buzzbait toward shore, I will follow up with a spinnerbait at the same point. This way, the fish will see something different in style and depth,  and I am staying with the fast moving program. It would be hard for me to use a slow moving bait or technique to follow up, as we would move past the target too fast. This is great for choosing lure style and color. Pay attention to what gets bit!

Boating Basics

There is a good reason boat ramps are one of the most entertaining parts of the lake. Owning a boat doesn’t always mean having the skills to operate one. I grew up around boats. I learned at a very young age that it is important to learn basic boating skills in case of emergency. One of the first things I learned when I got in our boat was how to drive it. Idle and on plane with the big motor and how to deploy, use and lift up the trolling motor. This doesn’t mean you HAVE to drive all the time. Just know you can. Your partner should feel more at ease, too.

If you REALLY want to get into it and learn boating skills, the next helpful thing a good fishing buddy can do is either back the trailer in, or load and unload the boat from it. Go to an empty parking lot and practice backing the trailer up and pulling in and out of parking spots. Getting the boat off the trailer is really easy if you have basic boat driving skills. Trailering the boat is also easy. It just takes a lesson and a couple tries to get the feel.

Personally, I grew up driving a boat onto a lift at the dock. Trailering and off-loading the boat was far easier for me. I honestly SUCK at backing the trailer up, too.  It is a real time saver at the ramp. You are in and out of the space quickly and its a smooth, efficient process. My husband LOVES that I can help with this more than anything!

You Do You, Boo…

No matter what, its important to keep in mind that you are there to have FUN. Allow each other space and respect within that. I love going fun fishing with my husband. I will fish, read, do yoga, nap, eat and journal on any given day on the lake. He will fish for 8 hours straight, barely stopping to retie a lure or take a sip of water. We have two very different experiences, but end up sharing  time both doing what we love and chilling out. We have created an enjoyable partnership doing something we both enjoy in our own way. This makes our tournament strategies easy to plan and talk about, as we understand each other’s needs and style and put the FUN first.

Take Me Fishing!

I love being a good fishing buddy!  I started fishing to get to know my husband better. I consider it a “date day”. I do my best to represent female bass anglers. I tie my own lures on. I land and release my own fish. I have even been brave when there were hooks buried in my body parts. I am glad I was open minded enough to embrace fishing. I am glad my husband was open minded enough to take a girl on the boat. I know it is something we will do together for a lifetime, and I will always do my best to be a good fishing buddy.


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