As an angler who fishes tournaments as an AM, or also known as a back boat angler, I find that it can be tough to plan out your day and how you think you will fish. With so many anglers that have so many different styles of fishing it can really make fishing a challenging, but great experience for the angler in the back of the boat. Here are my top 5 tips to help when you are fishing a tournament from the back of the boat.
1 – Look for different approaches
Paying attention to the way the angler in the front of the boat is fishing is important, and taking a different approach, covering different water and making different casts will increase your chance at success. I cannot stress this enough.
Sometimes the boat moves into a position opening a different angle for you to cast. This gives you a great chance to put your bait in a location missed by the boater.
Another important thing to consider is to fish opposite of the boater. When you are trying to nail down a pattern, or looking for a big fish bite throwing something very different can help. If the boater is using subtle baits like a jig, you can fish a squarebill or a spinnerbait. Trying something different increases your odds at success.
2 – Try not to bring more than 5-6 rods and limit tackle
The back of the boat limits your space so prior to any tournament I try to get in touch with the angler and ask questions about how they plan to fish. There may be no need to bring 15 rods, the majority of the time I find the angler in the front tends to use 1-4 different baits leaving you with an even smaller selection of what you can work with.
3 – Attempt to change your cast types and retrieves
Mix your style up. Do not hesitate to try different types of retrieves. Sometimes when I fish a spinnerbait I may pitch it along side docks or when I use a lipless crank I tend to bomb it out and yoyo the bait back to me. If there is a tough bite going, do not try to use the same retrieves as the angler up front, changing it up can be the difference between no fish and some fish. Mix it up!
4 – Continuously study the angler in the front
Keep watching the angler at the front of the boat and the types of casts or pitches they like to make. When approaching a stump does the angler hit one side and move on or does the angler hit all sides? Take note of the type of weeds/pads or wood you approach. Do not forget to study the water and scan for baitfish moving around structure. This may tip you off to a colour or bait change.
5 – Do NOT use the same baits
As much as I love throwing a jig, if the angler is throwing a jig I will usually start off throwing a frog to cover more water than him, or a senko to target the finicky bass. Either way, I am looking for a different kind of fish than he is improving our odds at for success. Using different bait can tell you what the fish want and how they want it, once you have narrowed down a pattern, then fine tune and hammer it home.