Over at the Bass Fishing Forum of FishingMinnesota.com Carl Spande of Carl's BassAckwards Fishing Blog asks this question.
Co-angler Tournament Strategies
I'm thinking about fishing a few circuits as a co-angler this upcoming season, and I'm curious what pros and co-anglers alike recommend for co-angler tournament strategies. For example, lure selection, bait placement, and other things that will help a co-angler be as successful as possible when competing against other co-anglers in other boats.
This past year with the Baxter Bass Snatchers I was fishing the tournaments as if I was a Co-angler and I only took time at the front of the boat when my partner needed me to run the trolling motor as they had something else they needed to do. I think I fished from the back of the boat fairly successfully, but how well I did from the back of the boat is difficult to measure against others because some and possibly most of the non-boaters took half the day at the front of the boat as is their right according to the club by-laws. I do know if it was Co-Angler vs. Co-Angler that I would have been 1st at Serpent Lake and second to last or last at Big Birch.
My thoughts on tournament fishing from the back of the boat:
I think your main goal from the back of the boat should not be to win the tournament, but to try and get a limit by catching as many fish as you can. You do this by throwing baits you are comfortable throwing and that you think will catch fish in the environment to which your boater brings you. It is definitely helpful if your boater gives you a general idea of what kind of water you are going to be fishing for the tournament day, but you do have to be prepared to be flexible as the boaters plans might change. I think fishing from the back of the boat is a test of your flexibility and adjustment abilities as an angler.
I don't think you should have any hard and fast rule about not throwing the same thing as the angler in the front of the boat. You throw what you want to throw and what you think will work but you definitely want to be in tune with what the guy in the front of the boat is doing to give you input on what might or might not be working. If something they are doing starts working and it is practical for you to do the same thing than you might want to make that switch but the beauty of it is you don't have to. I want to emphasize again, do what you think will work. If the guy in the front of the boat proves you are around fish than you probably should keep making adjustments until you find something that works.
If your boater is catching fish and you are not it is easy to get frustrated. You can let the frustration be a negative that wrecks your confidence or you can let the frustration be a positive and allow it to motivate you to think and be more creative. One of the big keys is not to let your frustration distract you, but channel it to become more focused.
Focus is very important for the Co-Angler because when an opportunity prevents itself you have to be ready to take advantage of it. In tournament bass fishing you are only as good as you are successful at taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves during the tournament day. You may have lots of opportunities in a given day or you may have no opportunities if you are unlucky and over water all day that doesn't hold any fish. More likely than not you are going to have an opportunity to catch some fish in an 8 hour day.
As a Co-angler you don't have to allow your mind to be caught up in the decision making process that goes along with deciding where you should be fishing and not fishing at a given moment, this is the boaters burden. Your focus needs to be on trying to make the best presentation possible in the water that is available to you. It is up to you and you only to make the right call on presentation and that is what your sole bass fishing focus should be directed towards.
The two big questions:
Are you throwing the right bait in the right place? Are you going to be aware if a bass bites? I think that is your world as a Co-Angler