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Your Guide to Tournament Fishing, by a First Year Tournament Angler
The Life of a Co-angler
Jerry Corbett


            Many tournament trails have a pro-am style format that allows a novice angler a chance to get a feel for what bass tournament competition is all about.  One of many of these type tournaments is the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL)<.  Entry fees for these types of tournaments are normally half of what the angler or boater pays.  The co-anglers fish against the co-anglers and the anglers fish against the anglers.  The co-angler fishes from the back of the boat and can concentrate on his or her fishing style and learn some important things from the angler in the front of the boat. 

One of the downsides to this style of tournament is the fact that fishing from the anglers boat the angler has all the control and makes the decisions of where to go and how to fish once you arrive.  Now, that may sound bad but the good thing about this is you donít have the pressure of making the decisions and you donít really have to worry about a bad day on the lake because you didnít call the shots.  Although, there should be some helpful hints passed along to the angler and they can decide from your information and the information that they have what to do.  But at the end of the day you canít hold the angler responsible for what happened because they wanted to catch fish just like you did, it just doesnít always turn out that way.  Thatís why the call it fishing and not catching.

Traveling back and forth from tournaments, fishing in the co-angler division also gives you the advantage of not worrying about towing your boat all across the country.  Obviously this saves time and valuable gas money that can be used to buy that secret weapon.  And the boat preparation is not a factor, because you will be fishing out of somebody elseís boat. 

Time is also a big factor when considering fishing the co-angler side of these unique tournaments.  If you want to fish lakes that are many hours and long miles away from home, for most, finding the time to adequately scout and prefish before a tournament can be a costly endeavor.  Most of the individuals that participate in this level of competition canít afford the time and money it takes to fish in different parts of the country, so co-angling becomes a great opportunity.     

Just because the terms of co-angler, non-boater, and amateur are used, donít think that work and preparation is not involved!  In some instances fishing in this division can be more work and preparedness becomes much more important.  Think in terms of fishing as a boater; you have all your gear, fishing poles, tackle etc., and you are ready to fish a particular event.  You have prefished and know what your game plan will be, with all the right equipment in your boat and ready to go.  Well the co-angler shows up that evening at the tourney meeting and gets paired up with his or her boater and then finds out, if they are lucky, what to expect and prepare for the upcoming day on the lake.  So basically, every conceivable possible combination of fishing equipment, gear, tackle and techniques must be brought along in the event that your boater is on a certain pattern and that is what they plan to do for that day.  In some cases, you might not be able to find out what your particular fishing day will turn into until you hit the water that day.  Some boaters try and keep their patterns quiet until the day of the tourney, which is fine and in their every right, however a little courtesy also goes a long way.  If the boater is not comfortable telling their non-boater what to expect for the upcoming day, then the boater should also be willing to share tackle and tips.

Fishing as a co-angler is always a learning experience, you make new friends, and normally get a different perspective than you had in the past.  For those of us who are lucky enough to get to hit the water more often than not, go ahead and encourage your family and friends along, and then mention the co-angler opportunities that are available to them.  You never know what kind tournament bug may bite them, and the chance to get involved in a wonderful sport may await them.

Take it easy, and good fishing!

Jerry Corbett





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