I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO FISH THE LAST 6 YEARS WITH KEVIN NAIDOO (AKA THE CUZZY). KEVIN AND I MET WHILST WE WERE MEMBERS OF PIETERMARITZBURG ANGLING CLUB (“PAPGOOI” CLUB).
“How to…Choose the Right Boat Partner” I have been fortunate to fish the last 6 years with Kevin Naidoo (aka the Cuzzy). Kevin and I met whilst we were members of Pietermaritzburg Angling Club (“papgooi” club) – Barry Blunt
Whilst we were not friends immediately, we gradually became friends during our tours throughout the province for leagues, club championships and the like. Our friendship really got cemented during a national championship at Klipfontein Dam in Vryheid.
KZN won and we were both selected to attend National Trials at Klipdrift Dam in the North West. We travelled to this event together and share a chalet. It was then that we became good friends.
Shortly after this event I hung up my “papgooi” rods and started to delve into a bit of bass and barbel fishing from my newly acquired skiff. As I was still a member of PMBAC I was allowed to fish their club competitions and weigh in bass for points. During these competitions Kevin would be bank fishing, and saw the fish we were bringing to weigh in. After a few events he asked me to take him bass fishing. By then I had a dedicated bass rig with “TV’s” and I set about showing him how it’s done. We caught good fish and the bug had bitten hard. We fished a few more times and eventually, our competiveness found us looking for some guys to compete against. The BETT series had just begun and we decided to enter as team “Top Deck”. This was the start of our partnership. To say we were not formidable competition is an understatement and it took us two years before we finally started to hold our own.
I have now relocated to Gauteng and as such am not competing competitively yet. The lead up to the move got me thinking as to how I would a find a partner as well suited as Kevin was. After all we never ever discussed who did what, paid for what and so on. We just clicked and got on with it.
So after some reflection I realized that there are a few fundamentals required in order to have success on the water, and having a functioning team that gets everything done without effort or drama. These fundamentals are as follows;
As mentioned before it is imperative that boat partners are good friends. Fishing can be rewarding and very frustrating. By being good friends and understanding each other’s moods, reactions and quirks makes it easier to deal with adversity, be it lack of success, losing a monster fish at the boat or simply life interfering with the thought processes on the water. You need to have things in common that you can talk about for nine hours on the boat. I am in the road construction industry and Kevin in the building industry, two very similar fields. This allows us to pass the time talking about the contracts where are on. We have fun when we fish. Banter flies all day and at times guys wonder how we can fish together with all the nonsense going on.
This is very important in my mind. For tournament anglers to be successful they need to trust each other. Trust that their team mate has done his share of preparation, homework on patterns and spots, gathering information from other sources (interestingly we belonged to different clubs and would bring a wealth of extra knowledge to the team via these sources) boat preparation and maintenance, weigh point sharing and so on. If any of these items were to be neglected, the result of the fishing event would be compromised. To develop this trust once must assign responsibilities to the individual team members. We never did this officially. When we started out, I had the boat so I dealt with boat issues, fuel, servicing, mapping and the like. Kevin handled logistics, food and often provided the tow vehicle. Later on he bought a boat and we changed duties. Kevin handled the boat and vehicle; I handled accommodation, drinks and bribing Natalie, Kevin’s wife, to make us her signature boat burgers. We never spoke about these items leading up to an event we just did them automatically and trusted that the other had as well.
Strengths and weaknesses
I strongly believe that our diverse fishing abilities have made us the formidable team that we are today. I was traditionally a power fisherman who loved to cover water quickly to find active fish. Kevin, however, was a more thorough angler, spending time to pick apart the areas and find the sweet spots or force the fish to bite. Now we are both just as capable in either. We try new techniques all the time and then share them until both of us have mastered them. When we started Kevin was not into electronics and fancy finder technology, that was my job. Find the fish and he will catch them. As the years went on and we upgraded and learnt, he realized that this is a crucial part of competitive bass angling. He is now as competent as anyone in using these to good effect. In a nutshell having these varying strengths and weaknesses provides a learning opportunity for the team members. Over time your weaknesses wane and you become more proficient, making you a more valuable member of the team.
Whilst some may not think this is important, it is critical that the team members have a similar socioeconomic standing. I have heard many an argument, at the waters, between team mates complaining about partners not contributing towards the costs of competing. This is a game of high costs and it is crucial to know that both parties can pull their weight. It is also good to know who will cover what, even if not balanced 50/50.
Lastly we share our winnings. Sometime the winnings were kept by me to pay entry for another competition. At times we used the prize money to purchase tackle, maps or boat spares. The rest of the time we split it.
When I won the Albert Falls Classic I never once considered that it was my boat. It was our boat. We made the decision to sell it, we decided the asking price and we split the proceeds.
I am certain there are many other important issues to bear in mind, but these to me are the basics. Kevin and I still fish together every chance we get and are in contact daily. I still assist him to prepare for his competitions and vice versa. I am now fishing with my longest serving partner, my son Hayden, and we are loving competing together again. A different dynamic but comfortable like old “tekkies”.
Barry Blunt and Kevin Naidoo has been fishing partners for the last 6 years