Being a good fishing partner

Gink and Gasoline had a great piece about being a good boat-mate and an all around good angler to have in the boat. This is their piece about Flats Boat Etiquette.

The gang

The gang

It is a good list for sure. I have one thing to add and one thing I’m actually going to, gulp, disagree on.

First, the addition. When you are not on the bow, and especially when it is windy, you have one very important task. Keep your buddy’s line from slipping out of the boat or from tangling on anything. You aren’t fishing, so help out. It is super appreciated and may just help your buddy convert and get you back up on the bow again.

Now, the disagreement. The “Don’t do the guide’s job” bit… true, you are not the captain, but your captain only has two eyes. Look for fish. Both on the bow and off the bow. Look for fish. Scan the water. Look where the guide isn’t looking (fish have a way of turning up in odd places sometimes). Always be looking. You should only be sitting down having a beer when the fishing is so good (or bad) it doesn’t matter. Look, pay attention, improve your own fish finding abilities.

Am I off on the disagreement? If you guide, do you really not want the angler to be looking for fish?

As always, feel free to disagree with me, but if you do, please explain why. It makes for a richer conversation.


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  1. As someone who came to fly fishing late in life, I find that there are many things that are “assumed” to be known and understood … and which I discover that I am ignorant of! So, articles like this one are helpful and greatly appreciated by me. It’s my intention to be a good fishing partner, client, etc. I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of the information with the exception of the advice not to look for fish, which you comment on. I am curious to see what others have to say (especially the guides out there) and I’d like to be able to pick Louis’ brain on the topic and discover what he was thinking. Perhaps he has had experiences where the person not on the casting platform became a distraction by calling out fish and interfering with the communication between the guide and the person on the platform?

  2. I agree about the looking for fish part Bjorn, plus it is really hard for me to not be looking for fish. It’s what I do while I am fishing. All the other boat etiquette info was great. Really important stuff for those of us who have not had a lot of time with a guide. About the clearing your partners line, I think that is good also. Just don’t have the line in your hands when something important is happening or YOU may be the foul-up.

  3. We are pulling hook less teasers (for hours) searching for bill fish. My partner is in the chair ready to stand and cast. I made sure he had a cool wet towel over his shoulders and kept the drinking water handy as this was July in the Baja. We have fished as a team for years and understand that it takes two to make a successful trip.

  4. I didn’t read that piece of advice as “don’t look for fish”. I read it more as “don’t try to talk the angler to a fish; don’t jump up and start pointing and saying things like ‘it’s right there, see it? 20 feet, more left.’ ” Like you I can’t not look for fish. But if I see one I usually try to quietly and calmly call it to the guide’s attention and then let he and the angler decide how to fish it. Unless of course I know the guide and angler well enough to jump up and start waving and yelling “cast you fool, cast now”. If I want some alone time that tactic also works well for convincing the guide to drop me off on a flat and hopefully he’ll come back later and pick me up.

  5. LOL. Doug cracks me up.

  6. Ha, yeah, that is a different way to read it, I suppose. Oh Doug, hope we fish together again at some point.

  7. My guide in Acklins, Fedel, has always encouraged me to scan for fish while not “up” – 3 pairs of eyes are better than 2 – plus you are still “in the game” and can learn from your boat mates experience with the fish

  8. I always tell my clients, “I can’t see everything; you see something you think is a fish, sing out.”

    Of course, I appreciate the distinction Scott draws here, mostly because there’s almost no way the average angler will have near the experience level to read the fish as good as a guide.

    I’ve been humbled several times while being guided because I (as a guide) thought I was doing the right thing and ignored the guide’s imploring voice. Turns out I was often reading the situation wrong or simply looking at a smaller fish when the guide wanted me to cast to a much bigger one about 20 ft to the left. I never figured this out until after I’d blown the shot or hooked the smaller fish. Bottom line: the guide spends thousands of hours watching fish eat flies. Listen to him/her.

  9. Crap, sorry was supposed to post this comment here: *sigh*

  10. It is a bit tricky. You aren’t the first person to get nabbed.

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