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Your Guide to Tournament Fishing, by a First Year Tournament Angler

The Choices Have Been Made, Now What?


Jerry Corbett


            You have checked out all of the tournament trails and have decided, what the heck, you are going to jump in headfirst and see what happens!  Your friends and family tell you, “your going fish what?”  They ask you if, “you know how busy your going to be?”  And you simply reply back, “no problem, I can handle it!”  You take into account your work schedule, your school schedule, your family schedule, and then add them together and what’s left equals what you can use on your fishing schedule.  Did that fit into the schedule you have laid out for the year?  No!  Now, what do we do?

            It seems that we are now in a little pickle, we know that its going to be a real busy year and we know that since we have already paid for the BFL tournaments there’s no backing out of them, and since we have already made the commitment to another family member to fish a team trail that there is no backing out of that.  I guess it’s time to learn and cope with what you decided back in the late winter, and that’s to do a lot of fishing!

            What will we need to work on in preparation for the tournament season?  Let’s see, first we need to break out all the tackle and fishing rods and other essential fishing items and inspect and decide what needs replaced and what needs repaired and what is good to go.  Of course we will always need new fishing lures, hooks, worms, weights, line, boxes, poles, reels, maps, batteries (boat, flashlights, etc…); wait a minute, this could get expensive!  Little miscalculation I guess!  Not only do we need to pay for the entry into the tournament, we have to pay for the fishing essentials (see list above), the boat gas, the boat oil, the truck gas, etc… I mean this is big bucks!  Brainstorming…still brainstorming…I’ve got it!  This is what you pay up front and as soon as the tournaments start you will have your payback and cover all theses expenses!  Well, it sounds good!  I bet the wife will buy that!  Maybe!

            Okay, now that you’ve got the checkbook you can head off to the outdoor store and pickup those essential items (again see list above).  After you have purchased all the “essential” items, after the second mortgage, the maxed out credit cards and the pawned jewelry, you are ready to get things arranged in the boat.  After the long hours working on arranging your items and finding the most convenient place to have all your equipment you remember that your first tournament is a team tournament and you have to have room for your partner’s stuff also!  Time for more arranging I guess, I doubt his stuff will fit in the glove box?

            If you make it this far you are in pretty good shape, you have the boat all packed, full of gas and oil, your tow vehicle is packed and ready to go and you are just itching to get on the lake.  Now what?

            Have you looked at the lake map?  Have you checked out the information available on the Internet about your first tourney lake?  Have you asked around to see what to expect the first time out?  You can usually find tons of information about any lake you want to know about, it’s just a matter of taking the time and doing a little looking.  You can search for guides on the lake and see what kind of information they would share.  You can always check out the fishing reports provided by many.  You can chat with some people on the Internet using various “chat” rooms or email the individuals and you would be surprised at what that will provide.  You must keep in mind to help them out whenever possible also, because information is not always free.  Offer to help them with a lake that you have some good reliable information about, but beware of what information you do provide.  If you picked up your good information from someone else, don’t pass that around because you where giving that in good faith and you don’t want your source mad and getting tight lips on you.  It is always a two way street, you scratch their back and they will scratch yours.  And keep in mind that the information you get from your good sources should be used as a secondary source of information; you always want that type of knowledge to supplement what you find out on the water.  Everyone knows that conditions change and what worked last week may not be working this week, or even what worked this morning may not work this afternoon.  However, it is always worth checking out, because some patterns will remain for an extended amount of time, it just depends on the specific situation. 

            Back to the checking the map out!  It is always good to look at the lake map to find potential hotspots, but it is also a good idea to look at a road map and make sure you can find the upcoming launch site.  There is nothing worse than running late for a tournament and not knowing exactly where the take off site is located to top it off! 

            As you can see, preparing for a tournament let alone a tournament season can be a daunting task, but if you keep things organized a don’t get caught up in the small problems that will occur throughout the year, you will be just fine.  Use each experience as a building block and your fishing foundation will be a solid rock to place your angling knowledge for years to come.


Take it easy, and good fishing!

Jerry (okiebassin) Corbett