The Life of a Co Angler: The Death of a Way of Life by Bruce Callis Jr

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The Life of a CoAngler:
The Death of a Way of Life
by Bruce Callis Jr

And the winner is? Right now, it is tough to get enough CoAnglers for tournaments. It has always been a great way to see how being a boater works. But it has always been hit or miss. I have had some great boaters in the BFLs I have fished. Summer on the James River in the heat. Call me a sucker, but it has been fun. But why are so many deciding not to do it?


Whether you like it or not, unless something changes, FFS (forward-facing sonar) is having a big impact on fishing. For good or bad, it is a tool that a lot of anglers are being forced to use. And this is creating a huge problem.


As a CoAngler, we take a huge chance when we enter. Will we be paired with an angler who has them dialed in? And will he put the boat in a position for us to be able to fish? Will they be fishing bedding bass where we can only watch them fish? It gets difficult to just sit in the back throwing at nothing all day.
But FFS is far worse. If the boater is using it to pick off a single fish, where does that leave the CoAngler? Watching the screen to see what they are doing? Making blind casts to open water in hopes of getting lucky and catching one? Or sitting there getting mad?


No, the CoAngler, the position that so many anglers have used to get into tournament fishing is going to the birds. No one wants to pay to go out and watch someone fish without getting something in return. You may as well become a marshal for B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers. At least you will get something in return.
Unless a change is made, things like the BFL and the B.A.S.S. Opens are going to become CoAnglerless not because of a lack of interest, but because of a lack of fishing time. I had a friend fish an Open and his boater was using FFS all day. He was stuck in a no-win situation. And that is where we are headed. We are about to lose one more fishing opportunity.

I will not be entering any more tournaments as a co-angler. I can catch bass but when you are sitting there in 20 feet of water and the boater is fishing the only brush pile he can find on FFS, what are you to do?
We can’t do what we want if it’s a jet ski flying around us! We can’t pick up a jig and hit them with it. We can’t call the tournament director and complain. In other words, we just have to “suck it up buttercup!”
Look for some big changes to come in 2025, whether we want them or not. B.A.S.S. has not decided on FFS, and if they do, we have no clue what it will be. I look for some limitations to be put in place as to how many transducers and graphs. MLF has not said much either. And they have the most to lose if the CoAnglers walk! Are we seeing the death of the CoAngler?