“How are you guys not all yelling at each other!” the bemused captain of the boat closest to us shouts after we, my wife and I, help land two winter Chinook in about ten seconds on a double header during the Roche Harbor Salmon Classic fishing derby. “We’ve been yelling at our wives all day!” he continued as we just grinned and got ready to get back on the troll. We just put on a deck dance that would have scored at least a 27 on Dancing with the Stars, and it felt darn good. Although, I’ll be the first to admit, it doesn’t always go that smooth.
My wife Vicki and I, and our friends Andy and Carol, have been fishing every salmon tournament we can together since Roche’s 2014 event when we won with a 20-pound blackmouth Chinook. It’s pretty hard to top that, but trying is most of the fun. After a lot of time on the water, practice, and patience, we have really started to gel as a team and also as two individual couples fishing together. That’s why, in a high pressure situation like the Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, when one rod goes off followed by the other one a second later, we are able to put fish in the box. Vicki and Carol both reel in fish and let everyone know what is happening. I maneuver the boat, and Andy is on the net. A little give and take, a lot of patience and communication, and boom! Two fish in the boat, high fives all around, and back to business looking for a derby winner.
Most of your fishing adventures with your partner aren’t going to be as adrenaline filled as fishing a big-money tournament. However, tensions can still run high, especially if you both are still learning the ins and outs of boat control and fishing logistics. Keeping a positive attitude from the time you’re getting ready to go until the time you’re all done is paramount to a great time for both people.
Respect each other’s rituals. My wife, shall we say, takes a little more time than I do getting ready to go fishing in the morning. I’ve learned not to push her. I’m an early riser, so I’ll get everything ready that I can before we leave to make it easier on both of us. If I feel a bit impatient, I just tell myself, “Hey, things could be a lot worse, and she loves to fish!” Really loving to fish, and looking forward to the next adventure, begins and ends with making fishing fun.
Prepare and be flexible. Look at the tides before your trip. Is there a tide change mid morning that may be productive? Maybe you don’t have to leave so early. How does the weather look? If it’s going to be blowing too hard or cold raining sideways, save the trip for another day. Before you go, make sure the boat is clean, organized, and well stocked with everything you will need. Have gear tied up and at the ready, so when you do have an inevitable moment when things go a little sideways, you will be ready to deal with it. Research where you’re fishing together and have a starting game plan that can
Positivity goes a long way. When we’re on the water, my main focus when fishing with my spouse is to relax and have fun. I’ve caught a lot of fish, so these days just watching her reel them in is a blast for me. She can be competitive when she really wants to catch some fish. So, while I’m pretty content to troll the same spoon and flasher I usually use, she likes to change out gear fairly often. I’ve developed a philosophy that if a lure worked yesterday, given the same conditions, it should work today. But, while my wife and I are very similar people, especially when it comes to things that truly matter, we are different on this one. And guess what? This is small stuff. I embraced the difference, bought a tackle bag just for her, and we went and filled it up with gear she likes to use. That way I can troll my old boring stuff on my side and she can run what she wants on her side. Which side do you think catches more salmon? Truth be told, it’s probably about even.
Being on the boat together should be a great escape where a couple can share a growing passion for fishing together. Play to each other’s strong suits. My wife likes driving the boat while salmon trolling, and she’s really good at it. The more she does it, the more she learns. I’m always trying to learn more about structure and tides where we fish. I’ve also learned that the more we learn together, the more fun it is when we catch fish and have success. Learning together, and making life on the water more enjoyable for each other, is really the best catch of all!