Fishing is a great pastime and most of the time its better with friends. But at tournament the co-angler conundrum always rears its ugly head. Somehow we’ve got to sort this out, but I have a feeling it will be an ongoing debate for a long, long time.
After nearly every tournament, on dozens of message boards and in day-to-day conversations with anglers, there is an endless grumbling about Boaters and Co-Anglers. I am constantly hearing or reading things like “the Co-Anglers should have to pay more for gas” or “my Boater was horrible he didn’t put me on any fish.” To be honest with you, I am pretty dang sick of hearing it.
Over the years, I fished roughly two dozen tournaments as a Co-Angler and more than that as a Boater. During that time, I had the opportunity to fish behind and in front of some really great anglers.
There was also a couple that you couldn’t pay me to share a boat with again. Some anglers somehow get the idea in their heads that their Co-Anglers are a nuisance and are there only to serve as a personal net operator. The anglers in this category are a very small minority. They feel as though the Co-Angler should have to pay them a lot more money for the privilege of fishing from the back deck of their boat. After all, Boaters have to pay their monthly boat loan payment, boat insurance, gas, oil, truck payments (they have to have something to tow the boat), truck insurance, maintenance on the truck and boat, storage fees, ramp fees, expenses incurred during 2-4 days of pre-fishing and numerous other related expenses.
Therefore, it is only fair to add all of these expenses together and divide the total by the number of days in a month. By doing so you are able to come up with an average daily expense. This expense is what should be charged to the Co-Angler for being blessed with the opportunity of fishing behind someone all day, right? Come on give me a freaking break!
We all know that the Boater would incur the same expenses whether he/she had a Co-Angler or a volunteer observer. Co-Anglers are not required to make my boat payments, pay the insurance or cover the gas in my tow vehicle. In most cases, they aren’t even “required” to pitch in money to help with the gas expenses for the day. This is more of a courtesy than a prerequisite for being a back deck angler. However, most Co-Anglers pay this money because they know that it is the right thing to do. Never mind the fact that they just spent the last 8 hours casting towards the middle of the lake because Johnny Bass-Pro was sight fishing all day. I will not even go in detail about the fact that the Co-Angler typically has no say in the matter when it comes to running 150 miles round trip so they can watch their Boater catch a limit and leave. However, they are still expected to be thankful that they got to ride in a beautiful, sparkly bass boat with some jerk that feels he is owed $50 for “guide fees.”
Last year I had a person call me one night before he was going to fish a small local tournament on an “electric motor only” lake. This greedy idiot had the nerve to ask me how much money he should charge his Co-Angler for gas. I said, “none you moron, you won’t use any gas during the tournament.” His response was that he had to drive to the lake. Big stinking deal, the Co-Angler has to drive there too. People like that aggravate the crap out of me. They are the small group that account for the largest amount of the drama between Boaters and Co-Anglers.
While issues like this give columnists something to write about, it gives the sport a black eye. Just imagine how it must look to outsiders or new anglers when they see or hear the constant bickering. Life is short and so is the fishing season. Don’t waste your valuable time fighting about stupid things that aren’t even important. Instead, go out, have a great time on the water, and give outdoor journalists something positive to write about.