Recently I fished the B.A.S.S. Open on Table Rock as co-angler and thought I’d share some of my experiences with you guys. This was the first tournament in a long time that I fished from the back of the boat; I’ve been in front of the boat for a while, so this was almost as if I had never fished before. What I realized is I believe there has to be balance between both the angler and co-angler for it to be a pleasant day on the water. If either one of these positions gets out of balance it makes the day long , hard, and more difficult to complete the task at hand, which is, putting keepers in the boat.
If the pressure wasn’t high enough on the opening morning of my first B.A.S.S tournament event, I drew out a past Bassmaster Classic Champion. The prior day, I had assembled all the pertinent questions I could think of to make the day as smooth as possible for both of us:
- What are we going to be throwing?
- How much tackle can I bring, will I have a compartment or the floor to store my tackle?
- What time and where do you want to meet? This is probably the most important question because I’ve heard plenty horror stories of people thinking the angler meant the Piggly Wiggly on Main Street instead of the one on Broadway. Remember to ask the questions.
Overall, Day 1 went smoothly with very few adjustments on either part. One major ‘hiccup’ we had to get around is my inquisitive native. In my “real job” of sales I learned early on if I wanted to become a millionaire I should take one to lunch and learn from him. What I learned being on the water with this past champion was he wasn’t as excited to answer my questions as I was to ask them. Just because I wanted to gain all of his knowledge in the short eight hours that I had didn’t mean he wanted to share his fishing-life experiences with me. Please, don’t think he was rude, he wasn’t, he was a competitor with a goal of winning and yacking in his ear wasn’t going to help him accomplish that. My point is answering the question, “Is my angler a babbling brook or a silent stream” early in the day is vital.
At weigh-in after Day 1 after all participants had been accounted for I received a text message telling me who my partner was going to be for Day 2 and I got another outstanding stick. When he called me I asked the same questions as I stated above so I could make necessary adjustments to my tackle. The next morning we met and the day started off without any issues. Not wanting to make the same mistake that I had made the day before, I kept my mouth shut until I determined my partner wasn’t against communicating while we fished.
It’s important to note on Day 2 I was in the hunt for the money and qualifying for the final day of fishing. I knew from the three days of pre-fishing what the fish were biting, what depth they were hanging around in and had a few different areas that multiple medium to large-sized fish had been. The entire day I had my Inner-Fisherman yelling, “YOU ONLY NEED ONE GOOD KEEPER! TWO IF YOU WANT TO GET IN TOP 12. YOU. ONLY. NEED. ONE.” With every cast I felt my calm begin to fray and my confidence began to bob up and down with the boat. My angler was catching ten fish to my one, which only made me more desperate until I questioned my ability to catch any fish. I found myself beginning to be sucked into a spiral of self-doubt and anger. The longer the day became the more desperate I became which resulted in some less than perfect casts, luckily my angler was forgiving. I’m not proud to admit that I allowed my silently screaming Inner-Fisherman determine my day on the water. I fell into the cycle of watching my angler’s success while trapping myself in a cycle of desperation that turned into frustration when I wasn’t able to catch a keeper. Now that it’s over and I’ve been able to sit back and process the experience what I learned from Day 2 is this:
- Comparison is the thief of joyful fishing.
- As a co-angler you won’t have the same advantages as your angler so use what you have and Do your own thing.
Although I didn’t finish where I wanted (in the money or fishing Day 3) I can say my tournament was a success. I was reacquainted with the highs and lows of being a co-angler and at the end of the day; a week on the water fishing is a pretty great week.