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Be a Good Boat Buddy

Posted on February 13 2012

Boat Buddy
Jeff demonstrates outstanding Boat Buddy form. Photo: Mike Sanders

When you’re in the boat poling for bonefish, one angler is on the bow, ready for the shot.  The other angler is back in the boat, without a rod in his or her hand.  But if you’re not the one on the bow, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nap time – you can be a great Boat Buddy!

The Boat Buddy

The Boat Buddy can have an awfully big contribution to the fun and success of the angling day.  Here are some ways you can help.

  1. Mind the line.  This is the traditional role of the Boat Buddy.  The angler on the bow strips line into a pile in the boat.  You make sure the pile is tidy, not coiled on itself, and definitely not hooked around stray sandals or extra gas tanks or the butt of the ‘cuda rod.  The corollary to this rule is that you should keep that area on the deck of the boat clear of stuff that the line could get tangled on.
  2. Rig other rods. Once you friend is up there and ready (but not before), you can work on rigging other rods.  Maybe your bonefish rod needs a new leader or you need to finish up the haywire twist on the shark rod.  This is an excellent time to get other gear ready so you can make the most of the time in your fishing day.
  3. Help spot fish.  No, your eyes aren’t as good as your guide’s.  No, you don’t have the extra height gained by standing on the bow.  That’s OK – you can still help.  The guide and the active angler can each only look in one place at one time – 6 eyes are better than 4.
  4. Tidy things up.  It’s just a bad idea to have a bunch of random stuff loose in your boat.  Loose stuff can snag fly lines, can be tripped over in the heat of the battle, and can fly out of the boat when you’re up on step.  Help keep things tidy by putting loose flies back into their boxes, zipping up boat bags, putting away lifejackets and raincoats, tucking sandals up into storage areas, picking up bottle caps, etc etc etc.  Every little bit helps.
  5. Be quiet. No matter what you do – whether you’re eating your lunch or rigging another rod – stay quiet at all times.  When we say quiet here we’re less worried about talking, and much more worried about anything banging around in the boat.  Some classic noisemakers that you want to avoid are slamming the cooler, dropping anything on the deck, dragging anything along the deck, and banging rods in and out of rod holders.  Fish on the flats don’t like stuff banging around above their heads.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to be a good Boat Buddy?  Awesome – leave us a comment us help us all out!

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