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Puttin' the "T" in Team
By Paul Crawford

What makes a good team? A simple question without a simple answer. Finding and keeping a good fishing partner has been said to be harder than finding a wife. I believe that, if for no other reason because you've got a lot fewer choices.

Since this is close to the start of a new year with many new teams forming, I thought it might be a good time to look at team fishing and some of the tricks of the trade in being a good team. Most are just common sense, other seems to be less obvious.

    A good team shares something in common other than fishing. If you're going to spend 8 to 10 hours within 18 feet of one another, you'd better at least like the guy! If you share interests in other sports or activities, it makes passing the time a lot easier than trying to talk about last month's Bassmaster for 8 hours.

    A good team likes to fish similar water. Nothing can be more frustrating for a team than one partner wanting to go flipping while the other wants to fish deep holes in open water. The team should agree on the general style they prefer before even going to practice on a particular lake. This may change with season, lake, or weather, but the team should still understand what water each partner feels comfortable fishing and when.

    A good team has TRUST in each other. If you trust you're partner's judgment, be it in location, lure selection, or just ESP when it comes to finding fish, you'll both have a better day especially if it's slow. The respect each partner has for the other will get you through those times when nothing is biting and you don't know what to try next. And if your partner says you should be throwing a Bubblegum Deep Diving Hula Popper, you should trust him enough to at least tie one on for a few casts.

    A good team fishes the same water differently. Each partner brings a strength or style to the team. Each partner should use that strength to help the team. If one partner is good at crank baits, let him be the one who throws them. The other partner may be better at worms or jerk baits. Work the same water in different ways. If you trust your partner to catch any fish that will bite a particular lure in a given spot, then it would be a waste of time to throw the same lure in the same place. The only time you should both have on the same lure is when you're sure it's the best bait for that place on that day.

    A good team knows their roles. Each partner has a set of jobs to do for the team and his partner depends on him to do them. The boat operator must keep the boat in a position that both partners can effectively fish. The rider may be in charge of checking the livewell and keeping the team's catch healthy until weigh-in. If you're the boat owner, it's up to you to keep everything operational for the next trip. If you're a non-boater, it may be left to you to spend the extra money to buy the team a new type of lure to try, (remember to get two), or you might be in charge of cold sodas for the day. Discuss your roles with your partner and know what he expects and depends on you to do.

    A good team never competes against one another. You are not in competition with the other guy in the boat! Don't compete with you partner and try to back seat him or cast through to that next good looking point. Remember nobody cares at weigh-in who stuck which fish. Any fish that comes into the boat is for the team, not an individual. You're just as important doing a good job with the net as you are playing the fish. Both partners must execute on the water to be successful.

Paul Crawford

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