UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Co-angler etiquette

When I first started fishing as a co-angler, I never offered pros gas money because I simply did not know any better. At one particular FLW event, my pro partner on the second day was the roommate of my pro partner from the first day. At the end of a particularly good day of fishing he said, "Are going to give me gas money? My roommate said you stiffed him."

At first I thought he was joking. Unfortunately, he was not.

Since that experience, I have learned that offering a pro partner gas money is an act of common courtesy in the professional fishing world. Up until that point, I was completely unaware that it was a standard practice.

Within the pro/co-angler format, there exists certain etiquette - unwritten rules of behavior - that co-anglers should be aware of. Co-anglers who have been competing for a while are familiar with these conventions. However, it is unfair to expect new co-anglers to understand these unwritten rules. So this installment of The Co-angler's Clinic will spell out some of these unwritten rules.

* Be ready to go when the pro is ready to move. The most common complaint pros have about co-anglers is having to wait on co-anglers every time they want to change fishing locations. This is an issue of efficiency for pros. If a pro has to wait 30 extra seconds for their co-angler to get ready each time they move, 10 moves translates into five minutes of fishing lost during the day.

Even Mike Wurm, a pro known for his easygoing demeanor, finds waiting on co-anglers to be a frustrating experience.

"When a pro sits down in the driver's seat, that is not the time to start storing your stuff and putting on your life jacket," explains Wurm. "When I hit the driver's seat I am ready to crank up and move."

The easiest remedy for this problem is for a co-angler to ask for a warning a few minutes before an intended move. Many pros do this automatically.

"Before I move, I always say, `I am going to make a few more casts here and then move,'" says Wurm. "That is my fair warning. It is a polite way of saying get ready."

Some co-anglers speed up their preparations by wearing SOSpenders life vests that are designed to be worn at all times. This saves them from having to pull a life jacket on and off each time the boat moves.

* Never throw on a pro's "raised fish." If a pro misses a fish, do not throw in on top of the location where he missed it. As most anglers realize, sometimes a missed fish will strike again. Trying to catch a pro's raised fish before he can cast back to it is considered an unethical cheap shot.

* Never throw over a pro's line unless he says it is okay to do so. Pros pay a much higher entry fee to control the boat and have the first casts. Intentionally casting over a pro's line undermines the principle.

* Try to keep talking to a minimum. Fishing is a fun and sociable activity; however, for those who pay the mortgage with tournament winnings, tournament days are serious business. If a pro is obviously focused, don't carry on about your brother's ex-fiancee's sister who caught a 10 pounder last weekend.

* If you have an area that you have confidence in and want to fish, tell the pro about it, but don't force the issue. Many pros are open-minded about investigating an amateur's hot spot, especially on tough lakes. However, the best time to tell the pro about your hotspot is when you are paired up. Be up front and honest about the specifics of the area. The more embellished it sounds ("We caught two dozen 8-pound largemouths in two minutes at that spot"), the less likely the pro is to visit it.

Along the same lines, d o not mention your honey hole every five minutes or drop frequent hints like, "I bet they are just eating it up in Fishy Creek right now." Making negative remarks about a pro's fishing location is not a good idea, either.

* Be respectful of a pro's water. If a pro catches a big stringer, it is expected that the co-angler will not tell every detail of his pro's area and pattern at weigh-in. In fact, it is against the written tournament rules to do so. Specifically, the rule states, "Co-anglers who share their pro partner's fishing locations with another competitor will be disqualified..."

Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, says he has had co-anglers try to mark his locations on handheld GPS units for future use.

"There is no rule against it, but I think that is wrong," says Tutt. "We (pros) work long and hard to find these places (and) that should be respected on some level."

* Offer gas money as a courtesy. Pros spend anywhere from $100 to $500 on gas for a week of practice and the tournament. Giving a pro $20 for gas money is the standard and usually is very appreciated.

Courtesy is really what co-angler ethics are about.

"Ask yourself if the situation was reversed, would I want somebody to treat me that way?'" said Wurm.

Related links:

The Co-angler's Clinic: Get the Net!
The Co-angler's Clinic: Packing a manageable amount of tackle
The Co-angler's Clinic: The importance of the pre-tournament meeting
The Co-angler's Clinic: Arriving at the tournament site
The Co-angler's Clinic: Packing for a fishing tournament means careful planning
The Co-angler's Clinic: Analyzing the amateur experience
The Co-angler's Clinic: Terminal tackle

Tags: co-angler-clinic  rob-newell 

/news/2015-06-15-top-10-patterns-from-lake-chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

Considering the complexity of catching summertime bass on highly pressured Tennessee River impoundments, Michael Wooley’s winning baits at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga were pretty simplistic. His win came on a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm fished on a 1/2-ounce hand-poured shaky head with a 5/0 hook as well as a 3/4-ounce Strike King football jig teamed with a Rage Lobster. Both lures were fished on 17-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon. Wooley dragged his baits on a shell bed in about 13 feet of water that dropped off to a channel some 20 feet deep. Here is a look at some of the other patterns that were working at Lake Chickamauga. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-15-mammoth-win-for-wooley

Mammoth Win for Wooley

One spot plus two lures plus 92 pounds, 4 ounces of Lake Chickamauga bass equals a $125,000 Walmart FLW Tour win for Michael Wooley. Wooley, a second-year pro on the FLW Tour who hails from Collierville, Tenn., spends most of his fishing time somewhere on the Tennessee River, mostly on either Pickwick or Kentucky Lake. Despite his deep knowledge of Tennessee River bass, Wooley’s win on Lake Chickamauga was about as straightforward as it gets. There were no big flashy spoons, secret hair jigs or new must-have crankbaits involved in his victory. There were no mega-schools or timing of tricky rotations. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-13-top-5-patterns-from-chickamauga-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 3

While Michael Wooley has tapped a single hot spot for the tournament lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers at Lake Chickamauga, his competition has had to hustle both deep and shallow just to have a shot at catching him. His lead is now more than 6 pounds ahead of second-place pro Stetson Blaylock. The patterns working at Chickamauga right now are all over the map. Shallow grass, bream beds, middepth bars in bays, river ledges and even some long-lining are all represented in the top 10. Here are the details for the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-12-wooley-takes-the-lead

Wooley Takes the Lead

The last time the Walmart FLW Tour visited Lake Chickamauga in June 2013, the term “mega-school” was thrown around a lot. At this year’s Chickamauga event, which is presented by Igloo Coolers, you will hardly hear that term at all at the weigh-in. Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tenn., knows the difference between mega-schools and the “regular” kind. After sacking 26 pounds, 2 ounces on day one and 23-05 on day two to take the tournament lead with 49-07, Wooley says his fish are certainly not swimming in a mega-school. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-12-top-5-patterns-from-chickamauga-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 2

Two days into the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga, one thing is for sure: The ledge bite along the main Tennessee River drag has not been much of a factor among the top 10. When interviewing the top anglers, the words “back in a creek,” or “back in a bay,” or “back inside” or “up shallow” have been used a lot more than the words “on the main river.” That goes for tournament leader Michael Wooley and most of the pros chasing him into the weekend. For whatever reason, the main Tennessee River flow is not the headliner at Chickamauga this week, especially when compared to postspawn tournaments on other lakes in the chain, such as Kentucky Lake and Pickwick. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-11-billy-mac-smacks-29

Billy Mac Smacks 29

A combo strategy of running deep and shallow patterns helped Bill McDonald put together a whopping 29-pound, 12-ounce limit in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga. McDonald took the day-one lead by 3 pounds, 10 ounces over Tennessean Michael Wooley, who brought in 26-02. While many pros say the Chick is fishing tougher than its reputation usually suggests, 15 pros still cracked the 20-pound mark. And 67 pros caught at least 15 pounds. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-11-top-5-patterns-from-chickamauga-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 1

The story on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga was not dominated by the mega-school juggernaut that occurred the last time the Tour visited “Chick” in 2013. Bill McDonald’s leading limit of 29 pounds, 12 ounces had nothing to do with a mega-school. In fact, two of his bigger bass – in the 7- to 8-pound class – came from shallow grass. This time around it seems as if the boats are spread out a little more compared to last time, when four- to six-angler clusters tried to share big ledge schools. Some pros say that’s because the current didn’t run until later in the day today, which had the main-river community holes off the pace of last time. Others believe a delayed spawn still has fish scattered from the bays to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-26-top-10-patterns-from-lake-seminole

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Clint Brown won the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole by targeting late spawners and obscure stretches of bank that received little pressure during the week. Here is a look at how the rest of the top 10 competitors fared. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-brown-rallies-for-seminole-win

Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-jeter-takes-co-angler-crown

Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-lake-seminole-day-3-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-lake-seminole-day-2-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 2 Midday Update

The hot summer at Seminole turned back into spring this morning as a cold front blew through the area dropping air temps some 10 degrees with a blustery north wind. Sweatshirts were needed again as the cold air felt more like April than May. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-enfinger-leads-on-seminole

Enfinger Leads On Seminole

Enfinger said he got off to a “fast start” this morning, sacking a limit by 10 a.m., but he only upgraded twice after that, catching about eight keepers on the day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-1

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 1

Bradley Enfinger took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole fishing suspended bass in timber. Others in the top-5 fished both wood and grass on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-lake-seminole-midday-update

Lake Seminole Midday Update

Lake Seminole is known to be more of a quality lake than a quantity lake and that trait showed on the morning of day one as anglers who were catching fish were not necessarily getting many bites, but 3-pound pluses seemed to be the norm for the ones hauled in over the gunnel. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-seminole-summer

Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-18-top-10-patterns-from-lake-eufaula

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Eufaula

Bryan Thrift won the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula by keying on isolated pieces of cover – brush piles, stumps, logs, rocks, etc. – for four days and hitting as many spots as possible during competition hours. Others in the top 10 fished a very similar program, but there were a few wild cards. Here’s the rundown of Eufaula’s top finishers. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »