In tournament fishing one of my best partners was Jeff. He was the best "net man" I ever saw. He could net a bass as soon as it got near the boat and I am sure he got fish in the boat that I would have lost without him.
He was with me the weekend in 1987 at Oconee when I had my best catch ever. In two days I landed 9 bass weighing 28 pounds, including a 6-13, a 8-11 and a 9-5. He got those big bass in the boat quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, Jeff is gone now, too.
One of my recent partners in club tournaments is young but he is fairly good with the net, too. Jordan netted the 8-13 I caught in the Jackson tournament in January and also the five pound largemouth that won big fish in one club tournament back in November and the 3.7 pound spot that was big fish in the other club tournament that month. And he is still learning!
I once had a fishing partner that will remain nameless for obvious reasons - he is still around. We were running jugs at Clark’s Hill for catfish and were catching a lot of gar. Early one morning I eased the boat up to a jug and he pulled up a three foot long gar. He used my needle nose pliers to pull the hook out then threw my pliers into the lake while holding on to the gar!
He looked at me like "Did I really do that?" and I just shook my head. I had those pliers in every boat I have owned since 1974 and they were my favorites. I still haven’t found any as good to replace them. That was pretty bad.
Two tournament partners stick in my mind as being the worst I have ever had. At Eufaula in a Top Six many years ago my partner the second day suggested a place to fish and we went there first thing. I started catching fish and he could not get a bite. I already had five bass in the live well, half a limit back then, when I hooked a big bass.
All morning while I was catching "his" fish my partner was getting madder and madder. When I hooked the big one and called for the net he said "I can’t get it, something is in it." I was fighting the bass and realized he never got down from the back deck but didn’t have time to pay much attention. I managed to drag the six pounder over the side of the boat. It was a miracle I landed it.
When I looked down at the net the only thing in it was his cap. I did not speak to him the rest of the day and he just stewed as I landed four more bass to fill my limit. I never saw him again.
At a Redman tournament at Hartwell I had found some little bass in a brush pile in 15 feet of water and was catching them jigging a spoon. When we drew for partners mine was in a foul mood. He was a local angler and had blown up his motor that day in practice so was having to go as a no boater.
Back in those days it was not pro-am, each person was entitled to half the day in the front of the boat and could control where we fished. This guy said he was on some big fish way up the river but they were not biting until after lunch. I said we would fish my place nearby that morning and see if we could get a limit, then go to his fish.
The tournament ran from 6 AM to 2 PM. At 9 AM I started catching small keeper bass out of the brush and had put five in the live well and lost another one that dropped off as I swung it over the side. I was already thinking I could get my seven fish limit. I offered my partner a spoon like I was using but he said it was a waste of time to catch such little bass. They weighed about a pound and a quarter each.
At 10:00 he said "lets go." I begged him to let me catch two more keepers and fill my limit but he insisted we could go to his spot and catch limits of much bigger fish. We ran for 30 minutes and fish until quitting time without another bite. I finished 2 ounces out of the money!
Fishing partners can drive you crazy!