Al Campbell, Field Editor

April 8th, 2002

Fishing Buddy Test
By Al Campbell

Choosing the right fishing partner is a delicate process. It's one of the more important choices you'll make in your lifetime. If you choose wrong, you'll be miserable enough to either learn to hate your new partner or the sport the two of you share. Personally, I think there should be a compatibility test for potential fishing buddies before they are allowed anywhere near the water together. No sense making enemies of each other.

Since nobody has invented a compatibility test for potential fishing buddies, I decided to invent one myself. I'm not nclined to believe that this is an all-inclusive test, but it's a good place to start. The next time you think you might enjoy a day on the water with someone you haven't fished with yet, both of you should take this test to see if it's worth the trouble. Do you think you can handle this one?

    1. Do you like the temperature inside the car warm, cold or hot? Although my wife doesn't fish with me, this is a factor in our traveling relationship. I drive best when I'm wide-awake, and that requires cool air. I can even handle it if the air is close to the temperature that allows my breath to be seen. On the other hand, my wife likes it hot. The hotter the better is her choice; so when we travel together, it's a comedy. We compromise when we travel. She's wrapped in a blanket, teeth chattering and complaining about the cold. I'm in the diver's seat, sweat dripping from my brow, window half way open, thinking it's too hot to breath, and guzzling iced tea to stay cool. Make sure you're temperature compatible before you start that fishing trip that requires a long drive, especially if the other guy is driving.

    2. Are your fishing styles compatible? This question goes beyond the obvious questions about dry flies vs. wet flies. It even surpasses the questions about which way you travel when on the stream. A good example would be the day my fishing buddy, Kevin, decided to invite a friend of his (Jeff) to join us for a day of fishing. Kevin and I had our fly rods loaded when Jeff showed up with a pile of spinning gear. I'm an open minded guy when it comes to spinning gear, so I didn't see a problem with Jeff throwing a spinner while Kevin and I chased smallmouth bass on the small lake we were going to be fishing.

    About half way to the lake I noticed a foul smell penetrating the car. I accused Kevin of consuming large amounts of beer and hard-boiled eggs the night before the trip, but he denied any indiscretion or gaseous discharges. The smell got worse. In fact, soon my eyes were watering and I couldn't breath. The gagging sensation was nearly uncontrollable, even with all the windows down and the sunroof open. The real culprit was a bottle of Jeff's catfish bait that had somehow tipped over in the back of my station wagon and spilled.

    No amount of washing could get rid of that smell. Those little pine-tree deodorizers didn't even phase it. Orange peel deodorizers weren't a match, and scrubbing with pine soap only stifled the smell for a few hours. I finally scrubbed the carpet with pine soap and sold the car (cheap) before the pinewoods smell eroded into the gut-wrenching odor of dead fish and rotten eggs. I burned the fly vest that was in the back of the car with that stuff.

    3. Do you like the same kind of music? George Jones is ok if you like that kind of music. Polka music is ok during Octoberfest, but on a fishing trip? Personally, I prefer Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dire Straits or a good southern rock band. It's almost impossible to enjoy a long trip to pristine fishing waters if you have to listen to some guy wailing about lost dogs, cheating wives, old pickup trucks and trains that go on forever. I mean, I like dogs and pickups and such, but all that wailing gets to me after a while. And, if I want to hear polka music I can get a year's worth by visiting the beer tent at the fair for about 20 seconds. Punk rock and rap? I'd rather walk.

    4. Are your timetables compatible? I'm the kind of guy who can fish from daylight to dark with only a couple of short breaks to replenish nutrition and liquid levels. Fishing early and late with a short nap under a shade tree when the fish aren't biting is fine, but I want to fish. I know a couple of guys who think a perfect day is hitting the water at noon and leaving for the bar about two. Fishing with them would cause an unbearable amount of stress. Don't get suckered into a day of non-fishing by a guy who lives by a different timetable.

    5. Do you object to your buddy packin'? I like guns. In fact, I think everybody should own a few if that's compatible with their lifestyle. However, when a certain person whipped out a chromed 44 magnum and started blasting away at a water snake one day when we were fishing for 'gills on a small lake; I didn't see the humor of it all. I didn't object to his owning the gun or even the target practice; but I did have a problem with the way my waders smelled after the sudden surprise.

    6. If the trip involves and overnighter, will you be able to sleep in the same county with your fishing buddy? Some guys wheeze, some guys whimper and some guys talk in their sleep. I snore. When the lights go out in my tent, the forest rings with the sound of a lumber camp. A dozen chain saws can't compete with log sawing I can dish out after a long day. This is especially true if the sleeping arrangements aren't warm and comfortable. Friends have tried tennis balls, stale socks and the like to get me to turn down the volume, but nothing short of a good pair of earplugs enabled them to doze off after I cranked up the buzz saw. Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself in the same campground with me. My wife just punches me and tells me to roll over, but I don't think I want you sleeping that close.

Well, are you compatible with me? How about the other guy? Something to think about, isn't it? The next time you contemplate a fishing trip with a new partner, you might want to consider a small compatibility test to see if it's worth the trouble. Of course, if he/she has all the gear and the transportation, you might decide it's better to tolerate a little a few "minor inconveniences" than missing a day on the water. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns
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