How To:

Prepare For A Fishing Tournament

Author: Ryan Carson

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Every year there are tons of fishing tournaments that go on in each state. From shore based tournaments like the Governor’s Cup to other tournaments that can be fished from the sand, kayak or boat.  They all bring their excitement and some even have great prizes compared to the entry fee. There are tournaments for all different species based on the time of year. Both fresh and salt tournaments cover most of the year depending on species.

One thing all the tournaments have in common is somehow some way there is going to be a winner. Depending on the style of tournament it might be the longest fish caught overall like the Governor’s Cup or more specific targets in Tournaments like Warriors for Warriors or MAKO MANIA. The last thing you want to do is be unprepared. Speaking from experience there is nothing worse than being unprepared and having something go wrong once the tournament is started and there is nothing you can do.

To shed light on the mistake I made in the most recent tournament that my team fished in.

We were fishing in the Warriors for Warriors Shark and Tuna Tournament. We had already set up our hooks on 3 foot wire leaders with the intentions of adding a 10 foot 600 lbs mono leader between the wire leader and the main line. After the first three rigs were completed the 4th caused the crimpers snapped right in half and just like that we lost the ability to make more rigs. We ended up setting up more rigs with about 10 foot of wire to protect against the tail rubbing our main line. This could of all been avoided if we would have been completely prepared for the tournament by having all of our rigs completely set up ahead of time. There is nothing worse than having to call it an early day because of something so small that could have been avoided.

Make sure to do these things before a tournament.

Some of these may seem obvious but can be easily skipped over with excitement and adrenaline for the tournament.

1.)   Have all your gear packed and ready to go: This is such a simple thing but everyone has done it even on regular fishing trips that they start fishing and reach for something and realize that it’s still sitting on the counter at home. A very easy way to keep track of everything is to have a premade list of what you need to bring with you for each type of tournament. There is no need to bring your tuna gear if you are fishing in a fluke tournament.

2.)   Fuel Up: Such a small task but could be time costly before a tournament. Filling up a car, truck boat or even portable gas tanks for a small boat should all be done the day before. You never know when a gas station may be overly packed or might not be open. When you have to fill up a boats gas tank that might have a tank of a 100 gallons plus it could take some time to have it filled especially if the pumps are running slow.

3.)   All Rigs Premade: Along with having all your gear packed you should make sure you have any rigs you plan on using or might use premade. Take some time to tie the rigs if you make your own or make sure you own enough that you can buy from the store. There is nothing worse than wasting tournament time to tie more leaders, rigs or anything you can have ready before hand. For how to make teaser rigs and how to use them. click the link.

4.)   Have a Game Plan: Before every tournament you should take the time to game plan. Figure out what you are going to do during the tournament, where you are going to fish and how you plan to target the fish. You don’t want to play a guessing game once the tournament has started. Every game plan should have a few back up plans. At least a Plan B and Plan C. Maybe the weather took a turn for the worst and now you are restricted fishing in the bay and can’t make a run out into the ocean because the waves are too rough. Always have a couple plans set up so you can follow through and execute those plans once the tournament is running.

5.)   Pack your Food: As much as people get caught up into fishing some tournaments run for an extended period of time 12 hour plus. Even if you don’t want to eat a meal like a sandwich pack protein bars or granola bars. Something that you can eat quickly and keep fishing. Bring water or other fluids to keep you hydrated. There is nothing worse than not feeling good half way through the tournament.

6.)   Know your Travel Times: Not only do you need to make sure you arrive to the tournament early enough to get ready without rushing, make sure you know distances especially if you are in a boat. If you are planning on fishing 30 miles away from the weigh station and it takes you 2 hours to get back to the weigh in station you need to know when you need to head in to make the weigh in on time. There is no reason to get disqualified over bad time management.

7.)   Review the Rules: This is probably the most obvious one but the most important. Normally if you break any tournament rules you are automatically disqualified and you forfeit any monies paid into the tournament. Stupid things like dropping a line in the water to soon or going out of the designated boundaries (if there are any) could cost you the tournament.

8.)   Pack Extras (backup gear): Unlike packing for your family vacation where you need to pack limited gear to save space a tournament for our team is the opposite. We have extra rods, reels and another spool of braid anytime we fish a tournament. We normally carry this for regular fishing trips as well considering you never know if a pole might snap, a reel stops working or monster of a fish spools your reel. (its ok if it was a rock it’s your fish story tell it how you want) But you want to be prepared for the worst. If you only bring one rod and it snaps you either have to rush out to buy another or throw in the towel.

Hopefully these tips will help you in any tournament you are looking to fish in.

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