Seth Morris might say that I'm the best fishing partner anyone could dream up. You heard that right, the best! Not because I take up less space in the boat, my fish-catching abilities, impeccable netting skills, precision trailer-backing, or the superb sandwiches I make, but because I am allergic to fish.
You heard that right. I am allergic to fish. I’ll catch fish, fillet them up, and simply give them away as a gift to anyone who wants fresh walleye tacos. But this isn’t a trait I’d necessarily recommend to become a good boatmate.
The question of how one becomes a good fishing partner is difficult to answer. It's like asking, “how does someone become a good spouse or a good friend?”
However, there are tons of similarities between being a great fishing partner and just being a great person in general. Hopefully, these hot tips help you get invited back to that walleye bite you had last spring when you couldn't keep the fish from hitting the deck.
I like it when my buddy shows up with an opinion. The overall goal is to have fun, be safe, and catch fish, (or learn how not to catch them), right? If you just started fishing and don't have much of an opinion, form one.
In preparation for your trip, you could study hummingbird lake master chips or read up on different ways to catch them. Take that knowledge and relay it to your fishing buddy. This is similar to communication with your spouse about what you would like to get out of a vacation you’re going on. They can't read your mind, so say something. In a fishing sense, it could be as simple as “I'd like to try this spot today.” Communicate and come up with a game plan!
That said, we all can have strong opinions and aren't always going to get along. We can get so caught up in our own minds that it can be hard to see things any other way. The real question is, how do you deal with that? By leaving your ego at home.
You can just bite your tongue—which is a good thing to do if you're about to say something terrible—but sometimes it's not the right thing to do either. And oftentimes, not saying anything can make things worse in the long run. You could just walk away if things are getting heated. (Oh, wait, you can't because you're in a boat.) Instead, speak your mind in the clearest and most honest way possible. In return, be humble and listen.
When your buddy says let's meet at 6 a.m., you better show up at 6 a.m. The night before, you guys made a plan, and the worst thing that could happen is you have a few too many beers and sleep through your alarm. Now not only is your spouse mad, but your fishing partner is too. That is a surefire way to get canceled. Get your gear in order the night before so you are ready to roll in the morning.
And it can be expensive to fish, but it doesn't have to be. When you start to add fuel, bait, boat maintenance, rods, reels, tackle, food, drinks, and boat launch fees, it adds up! Be conscious about the money thing whether you are the boat owner or not.
Contributing financially can come in more ways than just trading money. Pack a lunch for the two of you, bring some rods, bait, and tackle, or better yet, a six-pack of Busch Light (beer for when you’re not tournament fishing), and in the spring and fall, help out with the boat maintenance.
Learn how to use and respect the equipment. Or if you’re the “know it all,” learn how to teach. This isn't only to make everything more fluid, but, more importantly, to keep everyone safe. One of the greatest disasters that I've seen in fishing relationships happens before you even get out on the water and at the boat ramps.
You see husbands yelling at their wives while they are trying to back up a trailer, wives yelling at husbands to control their kids, and angry people trying to cut in line. What I'm getting at here is, knowing how to back up a trailer, operate the boat, use the electronics, load and unload gear, and the organization of gear is very important! Come up with a system and know your role at boat ramps and things will go a hell of a lot smoother. And you won't end up on the Instagram page @thequalifiedcaptain.
We are fishing now! Hopefully, at this point, you know how long you're going to be out on the water. I'm pretty hardcore, so I like to stay out there as long as possible. Find someone who is at the same “hardcore fishing level” as you. If your buddy is a 2 on the “hardcore scale” and you’re coming in at a solid 10, they probably won't be the best fishing partner in the long haul. Or maybe that 2-scale person is a good partner when you just want someone to chill in the boat with.
Either way, finding someone as hardcore as you is very important when it comes to tournament fishing if you want to be competitive. Tournament fishing can be a grind. If you are both willing to grind it out on the same level, just as in any good relationship, great things will happen, and you will find the fish.
You don't even have to be on the same skill level as your partner, but try and bring some different skills to the table. For example, I'm a better troller than Seth Morris (my tournament partner for this last Montana Walleye Tour), and he is a better drop-shot finesse fisherman. One day while tournament fishing Seth outfished me 10 to 1 on a drop shot rig. I just let him do his thing with a smile on my face. We ended up doing pretty well, and I caught the big fish of the whole tournament. This is all because of Seth’s skill and knowledge of the drop shot rig.
Fishing partners come in all different shapes, sizes, and personalities, and finding one is kind of like finding the perfect boat. The perfect boat is the one that works best for you. Luckily, Seth and I are pretty great fishing partners, and we got a pretty great Alumacraft boat to get us to the right spots for the Montana Walleye Tour (and many fishing seasons to come). Click here to check out the tour if you haven’t seen it yet!
One last tip, if you want to be a good fishing buddy, you should probably learn to be a reliable net guy.