Co-Angler: “What Do I Bring With Me?”

Rods and reels on boatWith the amount of tournament organizations that are available to fish, there are some considerations to make when deciding on which one to fish. One of the items to consider is whether or not it’s in the format of a boater/non-boater or if it is a team event. In this post, we are going to discuss the boater/non-boater format. 

The boater/non-boater format is a good way for someone to get introduced to the sport of bass tournaments without making the financial obligations it takes to fish on a tournament circuit. A non-boater doesn’t have to spend the $50,000+ on a fancy bass boat and the cost of running one of those boats for a summer. The other advantage is that you don’t have to worry about where to fish or how to find fish. This is all taken care of by the boater … hopefully. 

The non-boater fishes from the back of the boat and really doesn’t have any input on where to fish. The only thing that the non-boater has to do is meet his boater partner at the launch at an agreeable time in the morning and then spend the rest of the day trying to catch fish, while also learning as much as possible from his partner. Each of them will try and catch their own fish to weigh in at the end of the day. 

The question that most non-boaters have is: “What do I bring?” 

You will not be able to bring everything that you own. You have to limit yourself. The day before the tournament, when you and your partner meet for the first time, is a good time to ask him/her what type of fishing that you are going to be doing the next day. 

If your partner (the boater) says that you will be fishing in shallow water, flipping and pitching stumps and lily pads all day, don’t bring your ultra-light gear with you. Chances are that you will not have a very good day out there if you do. 

Although this first conversation is usually very brief, you want to get as much information from your partner as you possibly can. Some of the key questions to ask are: 

  • Do we have a long boat ride before we get to the fishing hole? 
  • Are we fishing deep or shallow?
  • Are we power fishing or finesse fishing for most of the day? 

These questions will determine what you bring with you the next day. 

A good start is with the amount of rods that you should bring. That amount is usually no more than six rods

Why six rods? It’s not a rule that you have to bring six, it’s just that you have to be prepared for anything that can happen out there. In case one of your reels break down, or you snap a rod tip, you will have another that you can use. Also, if you are using multiple baits during the day, you don’t have to keep tying and re-tying different baits; you can just grab another rod and continue fishing. 

So now that you have your rods selected and your reels are fully spooled, you are ready to decide what tackle to bring. Again, here is a place where you have to limit the amount that you bring on the boat. You don’t want to bring everything because you have to hold onto this bag(s) at your feet while you are moving from spot to spot. Once again, the brief conversation that you had with your partner the day/evening before will help you determine what type of tackle to bring with you for the next day’s fishing. 

There are some places where you can limit what you bring. A perfect example is that you don’t need to bring every single colour of plastics that you have. Don’t bring every colour of flipping jig you have. You should limit yourself to a maximum of two tackle bags. The boater doesn’t want to have an extra 200 pounds on board just because you “need” to bring all of your tackle with you. 

In some cases, if you are onto fish and you run out of the particular colour that the fish seem to be biting on, the boater (if you ask nicely) might lend you that colour to finish off the day’s fish. You have to remember your partner’s boat is usually a floating tackle shop. He/she probably has the colour that you have just run out of. Ask if he/she has that bait, and you may be surprised how much she or he will try to help you out. 

Now that you have your rods and tackle bag(s) packed and ready to go, you have to make sure that you bring the other essentials with you. You have to be prepared for everything and anything that can happen out there. Trust me, if something can go wrong, it will happen when you are out on the water. 

You will not be able to come back to shore because you forgot something. Here is a list of other important items to bring with you so that you can have the most enjoyable day possible fishing. You want to make sure that you bring:

  • Some drinks and/or food
  • A rain suit
  • Your life jacket
  • Sunscreen 
  • Fishing glasses
  • Shorts or pants, depending on the weather conditions for the day

Other things to consider when you decide what to bring is how long of a run do you have to make to get to and from your fishing hole. This will also have an impact on the amount of things that you bring with you. 

If you have a 30-minute boat ride one way, you want to be able to sit comfortably in the seat and not have to worry about your gear. Also, if the weather conditions are nice, then the ride is not too bad, but what happens if it’s windy and raining? Now that 30-minute boat ride in nice weather has turned into an hour-and-30-minute ride -- a hard, back-pounding ride that you have to endure until you reach your spot. This kind of ride will tire you out before you even pick up a fishing rod. 

Sometimes the boater (if you ask nicely) will allow you to store your rods in his rod locker or strap down on the front deck, so that would be one thing you don’t have to hold onto for the ride. Your neck muscles can get tired very quickly when you trying to brace yourself against the elements. 

You want to make your fishing enjoyable, and you don’t want to let the little things spoil your day. This article is based on my experiences that I had while fishing a Citgo Bassmaster Tour event and the BASS Northern Opens as a co-angler. You want to bring everything that you need when you go out fishing because when we fish from our own boats, we know that if we need a particular bait that we probably have it in a storage compartment somewhere. When fishing as a co-angler/non-boater, you do not have that luxury of having everything you need at your fingertips. So if plan carefully and pack wisely, you should have a good day on the water. 

You never know ... you may just come home with a cheque. 

by Peter Larmand