“The Biggest A**hole Co-Angler I Ever Fished With”

I watched a video this morning by a big-ish pro, and that was the subject of his video.  Now I have never fished at a pro level myself.  Technically I’ve won enough in a single year a few times that the law required me to report the revenue, but I never did it for a living.  I have fished a fair number of random draw “co-anglers” tournaments.  (I ran one for eight years.)  Mostly as the pro.  Sometimes as the amateur.  Yuma Bassmasters, Yuma Pro Am, Desert Draw Series, etc.  I probably more than 150 tournaments as the pro where I didn’t get to pick my partner.  Admittedly I only fished draw “team” style pro-ams so it was to my benefit for my co-angler to do well and be prepared.  This may give me a different perspective, but I have some experience with fishing with new and different people.  I also used to post open invitations and take just about anybody out once.  I had my fair share of fishing with strangers I met at the ramp or in front of my shop door first thing in the morning.

I’m not sure I would agree with this pro.  First thing he did to justify his position is claim other anglers had branded this guy as tough to fish with.  Okay, maybe he is, but listening to dock talk and gossip to form an opinion of somebody isn’t very professional in my opinion.  Maybe it can’t be helped, but using gossip as one of your excuses to justify calling somebody an a**hole isn’t really a good choice.

The next thing he complained about was the guy asking what his game plan was first thing in the morning.  That surprised me.  I wouldn’t say every co-anglers I’ve drawn has asked me how we were starting out, but most have.  It only makes sense.  If I’m going to be chunking and winding with the trolling motor on high they might not want to have a flipping stick on top.  They might want a cranking rod or some other complimentary rig ready to go.  It struck me as a really odd thing to use that to put somebody down.  The pro claimed he didn’t have a game plan, and just wanted to see how the day unfolded.  Okay, so say that.  Here is the other side.  Most of the time when I fished as a co-angler (I didn’t do that very long) my “pro” would volunteer to me how they were starting out so I would be prepared, and would often make suggestions to help me out.

Then it got weirder to me.  He started out flipping and pitch to cover and structure along a bank.

Before I go on to explain why the above sounded weird to me let me add some context.  Generally when fishing as a co with a pro many will take it as a guideline that the co-angler is free to fish off either side or the back of the boat, but they shouldn’t cast forward of the consoles unless invited.  I don’t know.  Maybe even some organizations come right out and say it.  Anyway, I’ve heard it.  Generally I don’t get to worked up about it unless the guy in the back of the boat is pushing me and splatting my spots or forcing me to fish at a speed other than the speed I want to.

Our pro also said that co-anglers aren’t really there to compete.  I don’t recall his exact words, but it was almost that blatant.  They are there to learn.  When I fished as a co-angler I certainly wanted to learn, but I also wanted a chance to win some cash like anybody else.  That rubbed me the wrong way.  I took it as, “They should shutup, leave me alone, and let me fish, ‘except to grab the net for me when I get a big one’.”  We’ll mention that last bit later.

The pro was flipping the bank caught a limit and culled a couple times.  Not a big limit, but a limit.  The guy in the back was getting upset and said so, because he wasn’t catching anything.  The pro went on to explain the guy had plenty of room to fish.  He could drop shot or throw a topwater, or chunk a crank bait out in the middle.  He was running the boat at at about 45 degrees to the bank so the guy in the back had plenty of room to fish.  I had to pause the video and play it back to make sure I heard that correctly.  He was pulling fish off the bank and had the back of the boat turned away from the bank by 45 degrees.

I’m not sure I could track my boat 45 degrees away from my path of travel unless I worked really hard at it.  I can turn the outboard one way or the other to change the angle of the boat relative to my path of travel.  I do it all the time to help out the guy I am fishing with.  If I am sitting off the bank and the guy in the back prefers to be close enough to actually use the line control flipping method I’ll turn the big motor so the back of the boat tracks closer to the bank than the front.  This way I can be at my comfortable pitching and flipping distance, and they can be at their comfortable flipping distance.  Sometimes if the current or the wind is sweeping my co-angler into the brush I’ll turn the motor the other way so they don’t have to pick brush out of their hair all day long.  I’m not always as aware of my back seater, so I may not always do what’s best for them.  I claim ignorance and self absorption.  After all my first goal is for me to catch fish, but if my back seater constantly is out of position I’m not being a very good pro in my opinion.  The only time I position somebody to cut them off is if they have been casting in front of me and cutting me off a lot.  Even then I feel bad about it.  Usually, I say something to them first like, “Hey I’m fishing here too.”  Very few act like I’m the a**hole for not wanting to have to race ahead and get cut off all day long.  Anyway…

The pro said he was pitching and flipping to the bank, the boat was at 45 degrees, and the pro was catching fish off the bank.  He said the guy had plenty of room to fish and listed off some methods, that notably did not include pitching and flipping.  I wasn’t there, but a lot of people say they are flipping when they are really pitching.  A pro can most certainly pitch further than many coanglers/amateurs/backseaters, so lets look at the boat position as I picture it in my mind.  The scale may not be just right, but I believe it illustrates the situation.

It got worse over the course of the day between them, and when the pro finally stuck a decent fish the co-angler reeled in his line before helping.  The pro didn’t wait and lipped the fish.  He was very clear he had expected the other guy to just drop his rod and grab the net.  After the fact he said, and maybe just to us on the video, “you should drop your rod, and if you lose it I’ll give you one of mine or buy you a new one.”  After the fact.  I don’t recall at any point in the video where he said he had covered that first.  When I was a co rods and reels were expensive to me.  I certainly wouldn’t want to lose one not knowing it would be covered if I did.  Maybe if he expected that he should have covered it first thing in the morning when he was being annoyed the coangler was being an a**hole for asking what the game plan was.  At one point the co told the pro if he didn’t sign his weigh slip he wouldn’t be able to weigh his fish in response to their spats on the water.

Now I am not saying the pro was wrong about the guy being an a**hole.  Maybe the guy was a total douche bag, but the story told didn’t make the pro look good either.  First interaction was basically don’t bother me, and the first spot on the water makes it seem like the co-angler may have been getting back seated and kept out of position.  Now I’m not going to name the pro or the series he fished, but the whole story rubbed me the wrong way.  I’m not going to post a link to his video either… and yes, I admit people have called me an a**hole once or twice too.  Everybody tells their story in the way they think makes them look better, but in my opinion this pro failed to do that.

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