Accepting an invitation to join a friend on his or her boat for a day of fishing is a privilege. As with many potential relationships, your conduct during the outing will have a lot to do with being asked again. This compilation of dos and don'ts should help ensure that second date.
Do Chip in for Fuel
Always kick in for your share of the fuel — for both boat and tow vehicle — when fishing as a guest.
With the high cost of fuel, this should be a no-brainer. Sadly, this doesn't always seem to be the case.
As a rider, if you agree to accompany someone for a trip, understand that's it your ethical obligation to pay your share of the fuel. We all know what gas costs — a shocking reminder reinforced each time we fill up. Do a little simple math in your head during the day to arrive at a liberal estimate of what the tow vehicle and boat motor used that day, and then leave the boater with half that amount. At day's end — or when at the pump — don't ask the awkward question, "Can I give you something for gas?" That matter should have been answered when you said yes to the trip.
Don't Leave Your Trash in the Boat or Vehicle
A day on the water will produce the inevitable collection of empty water bottles, balls of twisted fishing line, sandwich wrappers and pile of torn plastic baits. The boater has enough to do at the end of the day tending to things like re-organizing the boat and charging the batteries. Add picking up your trash to the list and you might have spent your last day on that particular boat. The same goes with the tow vehicle. Take with you empty containers that held food and drink consumed on the way home from the lake.
Do Be on Time
With the understanding that things can happen, such instances are the exception. More commonly lateness is simply a matter of poor planning or, worse yet, poor manners — an implication that says, "My time is more valuable than your time." Want to make your boater happy? Have your tackle and duffle neatly organized and ready to be stowed when he pulls up to the meeting spot. Want to make him unhappy? Make him wait, pondering the question, "How can I ready the boat, couple the trailer to the vehicle, and be on time when my rider can't?!"
Don't Over-use the Smartphone
Smartphones can be a tremendous asset to anglers. Given a decent signal you can monitor the weather, check solunar periods, and even access web sites to see if that big crappie you caught is a new state record. As a rider, what you don't want to do with a smartphone is email, text or call other fishing buddies for advice on where and how you should be fishing that day. Chances are your boater has a pretty good idea of how he wants to approach the day's fishing, and such unsolicited advice isn't going to be well -taken. If you want to know how your buddies would fish that day, go with them.
Do Limit Your Gear to a Reasonable Amount
Make sure you dispose of your litter before departing for the day.
This seems to be an issue with folks that have their own boat but also fish in others' boats. When they show up as a guest, they bring the same level of rod/reel combos and tackle that they have in their own rig.
Understand that there's only so much room in the back of the boat — a limitation put to the test if you bring outfits to cover every conceivable crankbait, jerkbait, spinnerbait, drop-shot, Carolina rig, Texas rig and jig presentation known to fishing, along with the tackle boxes filled to the brim to rig said outfits. Pare down your tackle choices and number of rods when fishing as a guest. It may mean having to use only three or four rods to fish a variety of baits and lures. Scissors take up a lot less space than five extra rods.
Don't Rig Your Rods at the Ramp
Don't be the guy that waits until the boater is ready to float the boat off the trailer to start rigging rods. Chances are you have a pretty good idea of the type of fishing you'll be doing that day, so you can have your stuff already rigged. If not, beforehand ask, "How deep will we be fishing? Will we be in cover or open water? Fishing fast or slow?" If it's not possible to have these items addressed prior to the trip, no problem; just rig up after you get to the first fishing spot. Remember, you brought scissors.
Do Maintain a Positive Attitude
Finally, keep your spirits up, even on days when the fish don't cooperate as well as you'd anticipated; or when the weather conditions are challenging. A lot of whining will have your host considering the many merits of fishing alone.
There's a lot more to fishing than simply catching lots of fish. Be a good sport and it's likely you'll get the opportunity again.