A fishing partner is a good find. A good fishing partner is hard to come by. A real good fishing partner is rare.
You may think you know you're friends and family. But, it isn't until you are stranded in the wilderness with a tornado at your back or a bear at the point or a foot caught in a sink hole, that you realize just what they are made of. A great fishing partner, a true wing man is not just suddenly born. He or she is groomed through the travails of life. Overcoming obstacles of colossal stature with dignity, passion, and pride. Learning to be loyal from their first sandbox encounter with the juicebox kind to their dying day. A real good fishing partner is truly a rare find.
Of course, defining a great fishing partner is the key in discovering one. The credentials vary from fisherman to fisherman. But no matter what, the criteria should include the following three...Determination, Assets and Compatibility.
Determination: This encompasses skill and passion for the hobby, nay the sport of fishing. And because it is a sport, having a good team on your side is key to winning the game. You don't want just anybody on your team. Think back to your dodge ball lineups where you were “forced” to choose between Tray, the 6 foot 3rd grader with arms the size of tree trunks or Riley, the premature brainiac with arms the size of twigs. Your answer would be Tray. However, in the long run, I'd choose Riley. Because we may lose at dodgeball, but groom that young, loyal smarty pants and you've got yourself a life long friend. Riley will find new and cool spots to fish, calculate river specs for you to benefit from and of course, buy lunch cause he’s just a nice guy. Tray most likely will go on to be some college drop out with an alcohol addiction who moves back to live in his mother's basement selling weight lifting equipment on the side to pay off his parking tickets. Sorry Tray.
As for the passion, your fishing partner should have at least the same amount of fishing skills as you and enjoy it just as much. Someone who can keep up on the river in either blazing hot conditions or the blizzard of the century. Work a boat, rig a line, tie a lure/fly, wield a weapon (and well), carry his/her weight (and yours at some point). Can hide like Schwarzenegger in Predator, and fight like Rambo from 1, you know what we mean. The kind of passion that comes honking through your driveway at 2:30 am with a fresh cup of brew and a car loaded with gear screaming, “Get in slacker, the fuzz buster is on, the joe is hot, and the river is callin…” A devotion so strong to fishing, that if you were both captured by spot steeling river pirates along the banks of the Milwaukee river that your partner would chomp on the cyanide pill you hide in the bottom of your rod before ever giving up the best spots.
Assets: So if you haven't figured it out already, fishing is an expensive sport. Waders, boots, rods, reels, lures, boats, weapons, gas, gas and more gas. The only reason we work is to fuel our fishing needs (duh) and therefore work is a given in any fishing partner. Unless of course they are a trust fund baby and then you're good for life or until the third wife comes along and takes it all. So it's crucial to have someone who can use their car every other trip, pitch in for half the gas, cover half the hotel or pitch half the tent and need no bribe for supporting the lie to everyone at the local tavern that you caught a 6.3 lbs. smallmouth when in fact it was a blood sucking red fish you foul hooked and will eventually go home and photoshop it into a bass. We're not saying your fishing partner needs to be rich. He/she just needs to be able to say half the time, "dude, I got this." Like any good partnership!
Compatibility: And finally, the most important piece. The holy fish spirit completing the trinity. Being comfortable with that person. Think about it. You are spending hours in the car and days in the woods with this person. You better make sure they have...1) Good taste in music, 2) be able to drive at odd hours of the day and night, and 3) turn out not to be some creepy backwoods serial killer. That would be bad. You don't both have to love the same exact songs, just the same genres. Although something new will come along and spark your interest. Ok, yes Dad! The Moody Blues and the Blues/Country line of the Rolling Stones rocks. You were right! Having each other's backs is key in compatibility. AC prefers to hit a spot for longer periods as her optimism and ability for catching a fish after 60 casts or so grows more intriguing every trip. So, Dad takes his time wading, making sure not to leave her miles behind for safety precautions. And AC is a both a morning dove and night owl. She can drive in the dark like nobody's business so she takes the helm when Dad needs a breather or can't see through his Benjamin Franklin 5th addition bifocals. And of course, when AC isn't out meeting new people and making friends in the hotel lobby, gas station coffee machine, camping beach site, local piggly wiggly fresh foods aisle, rafters entrance at most every river, and bikers bar (she had to pee, walked in with a full bladder and walked out with some college biker's phone number, which was quickly destroyed by Dad) then she is spending time with her biggest and baddest buddy, her dad. Getting lost looking for camp sites, getting stuck in the car during a rainstorm, playing poker in the tent on a windy Canadian hill on the side of the road, or stopping to shop local antiques shop as she forces him to reply to stuff like, "Oh isn't that cute?" or "Wouldn't that look adorable in my house?" Yep, compatibility is everything, of course you can't both like all of the same things ;).
So why bring this topic up? What made us want to start talking about fishing partners now? Well, maybe it was the 95 degree heat. Or it could have been the fact that we ran out of water by the 7th hour and still fished 11. Perhaps it was the abundance of fish that seemed to magically find our lures at every cast. Whatever it was, some mystical force happened upon us just 2 weekends ago in our favorite of rivers that shall go unnamed. Because just after a cock crowed half past 3, Dad turned to AC and said, “You’re the best fishing partner a guy could ask for.” Had the stars suddenly realigned? Had the second coming arrived? Surely it was sun poisoning or early onset Alzheimers. Wait, who we kidding? Definitely not early onset, he’s too old for that. AC had made it! Reel good fishing status. Her dream of ultimate fishing partner was half complete. Because despite Dad being a great fishing partner, someday she will have to find a new one. Some lucky guy out there to complete her wading duo, her other bum half, her river soulmate. And these credentials just may come in handy. But for now, she'll stick with the old man. He's still got a few good casts left in him...
|Top Water Action|
|Twist and pose...works every time!|
|Off the flats|
|A Bass spit up a mole...holey moley!|
|We didn't make it in time, but we couldn't pass up a good fishing sign!|
Until next time, we'll see ya on the other side of the river...
AC & Dad