Shane and I have both had a great amount of success in many of the fishing tournaments we have participated in over the last couple of years on our kayaks. We both feel that "Luck" can win a tournament, but consistency equals true "Success". Also, Shane and I were both collegiate athletes, we definitely take a lot of the competitive nature and lessons we learned from playing lacrosse and baseball, respectively, and apply them to fishing.
Left to Right: My Dad, Shane, and I
After we won the Fish for a Cure tournament as the only kayak team in a 75+ boat tournament.
Preparation is the word that comes to mind when we think about what helps achieve the two words above. Preparation can equate to spending as much time on the water as possible, reading reports and books, watching videos, practicing new techniques, and listening to just about anyone willing to talk fishing.
When we go into a tournament we like to feel ultimately prepared and confident in our specific game plan for that event. We fish a lot of tidal water here in the Mid-Atlantic for both freshwater and saltwater tournaments. So the tide plays a big factor in determining our game plan and schedule for the events. A lot more goes into each event than just going out and fishing as many spots as you can. We create timelines for where we want to be at certain times of the day, based on where we have found fish feeding previously during certain tides. This type of scheduling also involves knowing how long it will take to paddle from place to place. As you can see a lot goes in to preparation.
Here are our Top 10 tips to improve your results in your next tournament or tournament series.
10. Pre-Fish as much as possible. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone during these practice days as you mind find something that will add more success for tournament day. This includes fishing some new styles and new locations.
9. Be comfortable in your kayak. Know your limitations of what you can and can't do in it. Be organized, take the rods, lures, etc that you know you need! Have a system for landing your fish, this may be the difference in 1 fish or no fish.
8. Be attentive to your surroundings. Watch for bait, birds, currents, eddies, etc. Also, you can watch other anglers. Some tournaments don't allow talking between anglers, but for those that do ask around. Most guys won't tell exactly what they're doing but they'll give you clues.
7. Have a tight group of friends that you trust to share information with before the event. Don't always be the guy asking for information, be willing to put in some time so you can be an integral part of the group as well.
6. Keep a fishing log and then use it to compare reports, time of year, temperature and all that good stuff. Once you build a solid source of information, you will will know if the wind blows from a certain direction then certain locations and launches will be more productive than other.
5. What's your goal? Do you plan to try to catch the limit first then upgrade or do you plan to target big fish all day.
4. Because most kayak tournaments are CPR you have to consider being very efficient at this process. Too many times I've heard guys say how they lost a big one while trying to get a picture and it would have put them in the top 5 have it not flopped off. Don't let this be your excuse, every fish is important on tournament day.
3. Create your game plan and write it down. I keep notes on important information on my phone: tide times, where I want to be at certain times and what has worked for me at the location previously.
2. Google Earth is a fisherman's best friend, even when you can't make it out on the water before an event you can do a lot of your homework from the comfort of your own home. You can scout the locations, measure distances from point to point, and in some cases even look for grass beds and other structure in the water.
1. Be confident, fish confident... and generally fish in the style you have the most confidence in. For me that means fishing crankbaits or other action baits for bass. I believe in the motto More Casts = More Chances at catching fish.
We feel these ideas will not only improve your "Success" in tournaments, but also every time your out on the water. Like most kayak anglers, we all have regular jobs, so what we all really want is to just be more productive each time we are able to get out on the water.... Isn't that what its really all about.