$20 and a coke: How much do you owe your boater?

When you’re fishing in a tournament and first get your pairing assignments, you may find that the partner you drew is your new partner in crime, the fishing buddy you never had, your brother from another mother.

Or you may find that the angler you’re fishing with has never been on your side of the boat — whether that’s front or back — and isn’t considerate of your feelings.

The article below was written by Paul Wagner, president of the Michigan Bass Anglers Club, who wrote about a boater’s perspective during a tournament. He makes a couple of suggestions to make the day go easier, including the idea of a Club Boat Prep Day.

Are you a boater who has experienced the same frustrations as Wagner? Or are you a nonboater who has a different perspective you’d like to offer? Comment below and let us know!

A Boater’s Perspective

As a boat owner and a bass club member in two different clubs, over the past several years I have seen a tendency of a lot of non-boat-owners to take their responsibility way too lightly. Don’t get me wrong; there have been the select few nonboaters, also known as co-anglers, who take good care of their boater. But hat has been the exception rather than the rule, in my experience.

Sometimes, I think the co-anglers may not realize they are doing it. If you have never owned a boat, you may not realize what all is involved. There is more to it than just showing up with a nice bass boat.

There are two different perspectives, the boaters and the co-anglers. As a boat owner, we see things a lot different from our perspective than a person may see as a co-angler.

The boater sees:

I need to spend 20 minutes to cover my boat before I head out. That way, it won’t get filthy from the wet and dirty roads. If I don’t cover it, I have to break out the wash equipment when I get back home, by myself after the all-day tournament, to give it a good bath, top to bottom. I’ll have to break out the power washer to clean the carpet again and open it up to dry (a good two-plus-hour job).

The co-angler sees:

Man, this is a pain to have to help uncover this guy’s boat every time we get to the lake. He is being obsessive about his “precious boat.”

The boater sees:

I need to plan for lunch and some snacks and drinks during the day. I need sandwiches, pop, ice and snacks. I’ll have to make a trip to the store the day before and get up early to make the sandwiches and load the cooler. I hope he likes turkey sandwiches.

The co-angler sees:

I’ll bring myself a sandwich and a pop. I should be good for the day.

The boater sees:

Before season starts this year, I will need to make sure all of my stuff works. I ordered two new GPS units over the winter (man, those things went up in price!). It took me all day to install them. I also need to go over my boat top to bottom, make sure the livewells and bilge pumps work, make sure the first-aid kit, safety gear and life jackets are in order. Oh, yeah, I need to order two of those $25 refill kits for the automatic life jackets so we both have one to wear. I will plan at least a whole day to fix those lights on the trailer, check the wheel bearings and make sure all is A-OK. I need to make sure I send in the insurance payment. I better stop while I’m out and fill the boat up (there goes $150). I better fill the truck up also (there goes another $90).

The co-angler sees:

I shouldn’t need to fill the Escort up. My boater can stop by and pick me up. It’s not that far out of his way. I hope the guy brings ice and drinks. I should be able to give him $10 for gas. I hope I remember! This fishing is not costing me as much as I thought it would!

The boater sees:

I wonder if we are going to stop after the tournament and eat. Those sandwiches just held me over. By the time I get home and clean the boat up, I will be starved to death. I sure wish I had some help putting the boat away and cleaning it up.

The co-angler sees:

I can grab a bite after my boater drops me off. I don’t have anything else I need to do, except watch The Bassmasters on TV. That was a great day on the lake. Fishing the back of the boat is pretty easy.

I think you get the gist of it. The boater has a lot to think of. He spends a lot of money over the span of the season. His day usually starts an hour or two before the other guy and runs an hour or two after the day is done.

When you partner up with a guy, give him a call, offer to pick up the ice, the drinks, the sandwiches. Buy him dinner afterward. Offer him some gas money. He spends a lot of time and money prepping his boat, putting it away and getting things in order just to make it a great day on the water.

Better yet, if you belong to a club, have a Club Boat Prep Day, and have all the anglers get together (including the nonboaters) to help the boaters out with getting the stuff ready for the season. It is great for camaraderie and it may make everyone’s time on the water more enjoyable.

Boaters do not expect to have their total cost of boat ownership cut in half by fishing partner tournaments. If this were the case, each co-angler would have to bring a stack of $100 bills to each tournament. However, we do appreciate co-anglers who acknowledge the value of the boater’s role in these tournaments and their willingness to proactively contribute their time, money and appreciation on tournament day.

There are some co-anglers out there who “get it.”

I’ve had co-anglers ask me before the tournament day what type of sandwiches I like because they always bring lunch for the boat. I’ve had gas money given before the boat is in the water, which is a way to get the day off to a good start.

Think about your boater next time you are planning a tournament day on the lake! Work together to make it a great day on the lake.

—Paul Wagner, Michigan Bass Anglers Club

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