PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Patrick Walters doesn’t remember the first time he uttered the phrase, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” That’s because he was sleep talking.
Walter’s wife, Emily, told him about it the next morning, and it’s become an inside joke. It takes on new meaning this week when the Elite Series pro partners with redfishing pro Dwayne Eschete for the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup presented by Huk.
“This is funny. When I get really exhausted, I talk in my sleep sometimes. A few years ago, Emily said I woke in the middle of the night,” said Walters, who muttered some indistinguishable things but was told he said that phrase clearly. “And I went back to bed. Now I say that jokingly.”
Teaming well with Eschete will be key if they hope to nab the winner-take-all $50,000 prize.
“I fish in a team sport,” said Eschete, who lives near New Orleans. “If you and you teammate don’t mesh, you won’t have success. If your mojo is off, you’re not going to be at your best. In this tournament, whichever partners mesh are going to have the best chance to win.”
That’s why Eschete said he thinks the four teams who have been together on redfish circuits have a little advantage. Six other redfish pros are trying to establish some repartee with the six B.A.S.S. pros they drew for this three-day, televised tournament.
“We first met on Sunday when I drove down,” Walters said. “If you have two A personalities — ‘I gotta do this. I want to do this’ — then you start butting heads. That’s no good. There’s always give and take. Every relationship, the key to success is communication.”
The two seemed to be getting along just fine after three days of practice and rooming together. Walters bragged on Eschete’s knowledge in saltwater and the fishing waters, and on the great food they’ve shared.
“Oh, everybody in Louisiana must know how to cook,” Walters said.
Eschete said having a Bassmaster angler might be advantageous in bringing a different outlook. He repeated several times he’s watching Walters closely in hopes of adding weapons to his arsenal.
“He brings knowledge that I don’t have,” Eschete said. “I fish in my world. He fishes in his. He does things different from I do. If I’m smart, I want to learn what he does. And what I learn from it is up to me.”
And he’s hoping they utilize those varied skills and build a winner.
“He uses his strength, I use mine and we put them together and come up with a plan,” Eschete said. “That could make us better as a team. As a team, you talk things out, and agree on what to do. Now what happens, I’m not blaming him for a suggestion and he’s not blaming me. That’s when you come to odds and you are defeated before you start.”
Walters said he’s well-versed in team dynamics, having fished Bassmaster College tournaments with a teammate. He said the right person having your back can lead to success.
“It’s 100 percent critical,” he said. “If you can’t get along, you can’t work together. The team has to mesh. You can have one person way better than the other, and that team will thrive if it’s a good team, but you can have the two best anglers out there and they might not be as good.”
They related an incident in practice that showed they’re pulling in the same direction. Walters landed a great tournament fish, an 8-plus pounder near the upper end of the 20-to-28-inch slot. Moments later, Eschete hooked into one but lost it. They joked that Walters, not a redfish rookie as he grew up saltwater fishing in South Carolina, busted on Eschete for losing the fish.
“You’ve got to be able to accept criticism, just like Patrick jumping on me for losing that fish,” Eschete said. “Losing fish is part of fishing. I asked him, ‘Do you hook and lose a lot of fish?’ Absolutely. It’s the same thing in redfishing. In your mind, it has to be what did I do wrong? You might not have done anything wrong. Give the fish credit. But after you lose that fish, you’ve got to let it go.”
Coaching one another up is next. It’s like most team sports, where teammates help one another for their common cause.
“Sometimes it’s just moral support,” Walters said. “’Hey, don’t get down. You lost that fish. Don’t worry, we’re going to catch the next one.’ You’ve got to pump them back up.”
Thin skin is something that won’t go far. Any criticism has to be taken constructively.
“It’s not criticism. It’s two people trying to accomplish one goal,” Walters said. “Hey, if my game is slack, let me know.”
“As a team, you’ve got to be able to come together,” Eschete said. “It’s kind of like other team sports. Him knowing what I’m thinking, me knowing what he’s thinking. I catch and he grabs the net. It’s reading each other’s minds.
“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. The best success is with the partners who get along. It’s about the relationship. It’s setting aside your personalities and you are a team.”
Yeah, teamwork will make the dream work this week.