Tag Archives: Co Angler

That’s How the Jerkbait Crumbles – A G’ville Recap

Well, the first tournament of the year is finally in the book, and it was nice to get back out on the “scene.” Believe me, I have no delusions of grandeur, I’m not going to be the next KVD, nor do I strive to be. But I do enjoy throwing my hat into the ring from time to time, specifically on the bigger derbies. This year I decided to hop back in the BFL’s but on a lake I’m not very familiar with. Because of that, I signed up as a co-angler, figuring that most of my partners *should* have more experience on the lake than I. Well, this first tournament was a reminder that is not always the case!

The night before the tournament, we have a pre-tournament meeting. This meeting is to make sure everyone is familiar with the rules, and to assign partners for the next morning. With the meeting being outdoors, and it being a balmy 30-something degree’s, the group I was staying with decided we should check in, sign our paperwork, and then bail. Since FLW text messages you with your partners information, there was no need to stand around being cold, especially when there was a warm booth with our name on it across town, just waiting for our fatness to show up and destroy some burgers. So, we get signed in, and then split.

Just as we are ordering dinner, everyone’s phones start going off. It’s the “partner” text messages. Shortly after that, the phones started to ring, with those partners wondering why we weren’t at the meeting (turns out those suckers were all still standing outside, and had been for the last 45 minutes!). Suddenly my phone rang, and it was a Kentucky number. I thought that was odd, seeing as we were in Alabama, and I felt like Kentucky would be quite a haul for a weekend tournament. Non-the-less, I answer the phone, and a garbled voice is on the other end. I can barely make out what the voice is saying (I’m on T-Mobile afterall, so poor call quality is nothing new). About all I can make out is that my partner is from South Africa, never fished the lake, and is hoping I had some ideas on how to catch a few. Instant anxiety set in, and I told him I would call him back when I had better reception. All through dinner, I moaned to my self about my draw. For some reason I was positive I’d draw out with Casey Martin, or Dereck Remitz, a couple of pro level anglers who happen to be local to Guntersville. Instead I end up with a guy who will have never set foot on the lake until tournament morning.

As dinner concluded, and we all loaded up to leave, my anxiety began changing to excitement. Realizing that this guy was not familiar with the lake, I knew my biggest concern was no longer a concern. See, this time of year the rattle bait bite is usually in full swing. But, so far this year, I nor none of my buddies, had been able to get on a good trap bit. I was concerned I would draw a guy, we would throw a trap for 8 hours, not catch a fish, and then head home. Now I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So, the next step was to try and figure out where we could fish.

After talking with some friends, and doing a little thinking, I figured our best bet would be to go into a nearby creak, and fish some slightly deeper rock banks.  Since a cold front was coming through, I felt like the fish might be sitting just a tad deeper, and the rocks may draw them up shallower as the day went on, since they would heat up and provide a little extra heat.  I gave my boater a call, and ran the game plan by him.  He seemed very happy with it.  It was at that time he also informed me that he was renting a boat for this event, and it was a smaller aluminum Triton with a 115 hp engine.  There is nothing wrong with that setup, but for a BFL on Guntersville, with the wind blowing, I knew I was going to be in for a rough ride or two.  Either way, we discussed our tactics, and as I headed to bed, I was feeling pretty good about things.

The next morning we woke up to a 25 degree morning, with a 10 mph wind.  Living in the southeast, we don’t get many days like this, and rarely do we fish in them.  But, today was tournament day, and off we went.  Because of the wind, and the fact we were boat 30, we decided to lay low around the ramp first thing, so that the wakes from the other boats could die down, and give us a little easier ride across the main lake.  When our boat number was called, we made a quick turn around the marina, and just fished the near by rip rap for about an hour.  After getting zero bites, IMG_0856we decided to make a move, and head down the lake to Honeycomb Creek.  Having never fished there, my partner was having a hard time decided where to start.  I had a few suggestions, but he was really drawn to the island that sits in the mouth of the creek.  I must admit, it looks like a great place, but after fishing all around it, and not getting a bit, we slowly worked our way into the creek.

The next “spot” we stopped at was a rocky point, and this was the first area I really felt good about.  In fact, it only took me about 5 casts with my jerkbait to catch our first keeper, a 2lber.  Pretty quickly after that, my boater hooked up with a similar sized keeper on a crankbait.  In less than 30 minutes, I was hooked up again, this time with a solid 3lber.  I felt like we finally found the fish, and the day was turning around

pretty quickly.  It was just a little after noon at that point, and I felt confident I was going to catch at least one more fish, and cash a nice check!  That was until I noticed the bill on my prized Megabass has broken off, and it was the only dark colored jerkbait I had.  I tried to not let it get to me, as I tied on another, but I couldn’t help but notice how much flash the new jerkbait had compared to the other one.  My doubt was quickly overshadowed by my boater hooking up with a nice fish.  I scooped it up in the net, and tried to reassure myself that fish were still in the area, and I just needed to stick with my game plan.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get another bite the rest of the day.  There were multiple times I considered changing things up, and I probably should have, but I had just enough confidence in the jerkbait bite, that I couldn’t.
After it was all said and done, I managed to have 5lbs even.  After looking at the results, I ended up doing much better than I expected.  There were almost 100 zero’s on the co-angler side, and I missed a payday by only 12 ounces.  It wasn’t the start I had hoped for, but I got some solid points and am happy how it worked out.

The Life of a Co-Angler

I’m not going to even being to pretend I’m the worlds greatest co-angler, or even a good one.  If anything, I’d say I’m mediocre at best.  But, I have spent a fair amount of time fishing from the back of the boat in both FLW and BASS events.  And in that time, I’ve learned quite a few valuable lessons.  For anyone looking to step up into a larger tournament circuit, I honestly believe the co-angler divisions are a great way to get exposed to the “next level” of competition.

With that said, being a co-angler is not as easy as it sounds.  When I first started, I thought being a co-angler would be easy, no practice, no choice in spots and no need to bring a boatload of gear.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Tournament Preparation

Sure, on game day you aren’t driving the boat, but I’ve been asked quite a few times by boaters if I had any spots I wanted to try.  Usually that question is being preceded by a brutally tough fishing day.  Granted, there is a good chance you may draw a boater who doesn’t get a bite all day, and will continue to try and grind out a miracle, but there are also guys who will be unfamiliar with the lake, or just not able to adjust, and they will ask for your opinion.  I even have a friend who made his way to the All American on the co-angler side, and a big part was due to a boater taking him to fish he had found in practice.FLW Five

Not only is it nice to have a back up plan, should your boater ask, but practicing allows you to get some idea of what the fish will be doing.  Again, you may draw a partner who is fishing a totally different pattern, but if you know what colors have been working well, or what style of baits will/won’t work that time of year, then you are ahead of the game.  Not only does it make packing for tournament day much easier, it will help keep you calm if you know fish are biting better in the afternoon, or they have been really keying in on green pumpkin red instead of green pumpkin pepper.

Packing for the Tournament

Since you are in the back of the boat, your storage space is going to be limited.  Some boaters will leave a rear compartment open for your gear, and others will not.  It’s never a bad idea at the tournament meeting to ask your boater if there is any space available for extra gear.  Personally, I will plan on packing with the understanding that everything will have to be kept in the floor, at my feet.  This is where practice will come in handy.  If you’ve already whittled down your tackle, it’s much easier to travel light.  But, I do bring all of my gear from home.  You never know when you might want a special color worm, or particular spinnerbait.  Because of that, I’ll bring a majority of my tackle to the tournament, and then whittle it down the evening before the tournament.


Now, as far as the rods go, I will normally take no more than 5.  Depending on the lake I’m fishing, I feel like I can cover just about every technique with five rods, especially since some can be used for multiple techniques.  The biggest tip I have for your rods is to use rod sleeves.  They will save you tons of time later in the day.  As you fish, and pick up/shuffle your rods around, they will get tangled up.  The five seconds it takes to slide a rod sleeve over a rod when you fish using it, will more than pay off later in the day, when that rod has made it to the bottom of the pile, and you’re trying to grab it in a hurry!

Another thing that will speed up your fishing is to create a “go-to” box.  This will be just a plano box with the main things you think you will use that day.  For instance, I’m going to be fishing Guntersville as a co-angler in a couple weeks, and my “Go-To” box will have an extra umbrella rig with the swimbaits already rigged, two different rattle trap style baits, a couple jerkbaits, a couple crankbaits and a chatterbait.  If I had to guess, those would be the baits I would be looking for during the day.  Since I know I can find them all in one box, I won’t have to spend time digging through my tackle box, trying to locate them.  I will carry spares, but this box is there for quick access.

Tournament DayFLW Three

When tournament day finally rolls around, it can be very exciting and very nerve racking at the same time.  Most boaters will ask you to launch their boat, so if you are not comfortable backing a boat in the water, TELL THEM!  Every tournament there will be a wreck in the parking lot, from someone not familiar with pulling a trailer.  Once you get in the water, it’s time to get in the zone.  One thing about fishing as a co-angler is that generally, the weights in the money will be lower, and one fish will make a big difference.  There are very few tournaments I’ve fished where a limit didn’t do very well, even a small one.  I’ve even cashed a nice check with one fish, granted it was almost 7 pounds, but that one bite is all I needed to be in the money.  So, even if you are having a tough day, don’t give up.  Keep casting, and keep your mind in the game.  Until the last cast, you are still in it.

That’s it, a quick rundown on fishing a co-angler.  As I get back to fishing more, I plan on adding more detailed tips, but that should give the first timer a good idea of what to expect!