How to be a good boat fishing partner
Some of us prefer to fish alone, but many others like to fish with a buddy for many reasons. It could be for companionship, sharing the experience or perhaps safety. Whatever the reason there are qualities that anglers look for in a fishing partner.
Fishing with a friend or even someone we barely know can be one of the best things about hitting the water, or sometimes the worst. Each year I have the opportunity to cast lines with people from all walks of life and sometime the person sharing the boat with me can make or break the trip. Some get invited back, well, others not so much.
Being a good partner starts before setting foot in the boat and it begins by being on time. Tardiness is lazy, inconsiderate and even rude, so start the day off right by being on time or better yet, arrive a few minutes early. There is nothing more annoying than having your boat hooked up and ready and your fishing partner is nowhere to be seen. Many of us have limited opportunities and must fish when we can, so don’t waste time, especially when it’s someone else’s.
There is one person I know who is consistently late to everything. Despite his repeated requests, he never gets invited.
We all like to take vast amounts of gear but when fishing with someone else be considerate and bring only a reasonable amount. Boats aren’t equipped with infinite space and a cluttered boat can sometimes be a safety hazard. I have one friend who insists on bringing almost everything he owns. “You never know what the fish will want,” he explains. He never gets invited.
Always offer to help with prepping the boat prior to launching, taking the boat out and getting the rig ready to trailer it home. Even a simple reminder about the drain plug, unhooking tie-downs and trailer lights really helps. Even if you are not an experienced boater your partner really appreciates you being part of the team.
After getting ready to launch earlier this spring I asked my partner for the day to back me down the ramp. “I’ve never done it before so I prefer not to,” he said. “That’s ok, everyone has to learn some time and it’s really not difficult,” I said trying to ease his fears. “Plus I’ll help you.” I added. “No, I’ll just pass,” was all he said as he turned to walk away. He’ll probably not get invited.
While on the boat always be mindful you are sharing it with another person. This means maintaining a positive attitude and kind demeanor. It is also not considerate to pay more attention to your phone when things get slow and never get frustrated when things aren’t going well. Gauge your partner’s attitude and take advantage of quality time to talk to each other. Obviously the individual thinks you were cool enough to take fishing which means he didn’t mind hanging out with you. That alone is a compliment.
Something many people do not realize is its proper etiquette to be willing to break off a cheap lure or hook when fishing a good spot. For example if you snag a plastic worm or hook and sinker after pulling up to a known productive area, break it off rather than spooking the fish. Plastic baits and hooks can be inexpensive. Of course the price of some of today’s artificials warrants retrieval.
Never leave trash in someone else’s boat. Clean up your mess, and anyone else’s, after pulling the boat out of the ramp or after arriving home. The boat owner will appreciate that. No one likes a hook stuck in the back of their head so always pay attention to your backcast. Hooks are meant for fish and nothing else.
If someone takes you on their boat and shows you a new spot return the favor and show them some of your fish holding areas. Sharing spots and information is what fishing buddies do. It’s what good friends do. Never run back and post the location on the internet. If it’s publicly recognized that’s a bit different and no big deal. But if your partner found a good area through diligent work and it is relatively unknown it’s better not to share it with the world. Through the years I have had many special and some private spaces quickly become public knowledge and even over fished by people I took. They never got invited back.
On the drive home after a long day on the water, try hard not to fall asleep. If you feel you must sleep always ask the driver if he is ok to drive. Remember, they may be just as tired as you. If you would happen to break or lose something always offer to replace or repair it. Once last year someone stepped on one of my St Croix fishing rods snapping the tip off. Then, rather than offering a bit of remorse, he just laughed and said “you probably got that for free didn’t you?” Well I didn’t and he never got invited back.
If you are planning on spending more than several hours on the water offer to bring the food and drinks. There is a good friend who is guaranteed to pack things like barbeque ribs, delicious sandwiches and his wife’s famous chewy pecan squares every time we fish together. Needless to say he ALWAYS gets invited!
Be appreciative and never take trips for granted. Saying thank you and offering kind gestures go a long way. Ask to chip in on fuel, food or other expense. Even if they refuse your help you should always offer and your partner will appreciate it.
Forgiveness is a great asset on the water. We can all overlook a few things as long as the next time we try to be more considerate and not make the same blunder twice. We are all human and make mistakes but we all have the ability to forgive. This can make our limited days on the water even more enjoyable when fishing with someone who always gets invited back!
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