Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Rules for Fishing Tournaments

I get asked all the time what are my secrets for successful tournament fishing.  I don't know that I have any real secrets, but I do have some rules that I follow and seem to work well for me.  So here are my Top 5 rules for fishing tournaments, hope they help.

1. Always have fun:
If you are not having fun then it is not worth doing.  Sure we all have those tournaments where we couldn't buy a bite with a million dollars.  Even on days like that you have to find fun in what you are doing.  Even when I'm not fishing a tournament I expect to catch fish every time I put my boat in the water.  However I don't catch fish on every trip to the water. In fact I have dry spells just like everyone else, but that don't make me stop fishing.  We go fishing because we enjoy the challenge of pitting ourselves against the fish, sometimes we win and sometimes the fish win.  So go into each tournament like you would go into any other day on the water, expect the best, but if things go bad find the fun in what you are doing.

2. Fish for a Limit:
Never go into a tournament looking to catch the big bass or a limit of big bass.  Approach it from the standpoint of putting a limit of bass in your well.  5 two pound bass at the weigh-in is better than 1 eight pound bass.  Now once you have your limit by all means go in hunt of that big bass, if you catch her then you have an anchor for your bag.  If you don't catch her then you are still weighing in a limit and have something to feel good about.

3. Throw what you trust, Trust what you throw:
You have to have full confidence in the baits you are fishing.  Always go with your strengths, in other words fish the baits that you know catch you the most fish.  Never and I me never try something new during a tournament.  I don't care how much you have heard about some new bait being a gift to bass fishing, don't use it the first time in a tournament.  Fishing with new baits or techniques is something you do on pleasure or practice trips.

4. Never give up on your plan:
Once you have developed a game plan or pattern for a tournament stick with your plan.  There is a reason you came up with that plan in the first place and even though it might not be working at the start of a tournament, don't give up on it too quickly.  Sure we would all like to go to our first spot and put 5 fish in the boat on the first 5 casts.  However we know that is not going to happen and in fact the chances are we might not catch any fish at the start of the day.  That doesn't mean we change what we had planned to do immediately.  It means we might have to fish a little slower, a little faster or change colors depending on conditions.  That is the thing, even a slight change in the conditions might mean we have to tweak our plan, but you don't give up on it completely.

5. Listen to your Co-Boater or Teammate:
Though I fish a lot of tournaments by myself, when I do have a teammate or co-boater I've found they can come up with great ideas.  If things are tough, listen to what they have to say and don't be too hardheaded.  Sometimes as the boater or team captain we get too locked in and miss little things that the guy in the back of the boat catches.  Always listen to what they have to say and give it some thought before dismissing it completely.  My son and son-in-law have both saved me during tournaments when I get too locked in on a plan that just isn't panning out.  Sure I said in number 4 never give up on a plan, but there are times you have to do something different.  I've found a lot of times the guy on the back of the boat has the right answer.

I hope these rules will help each of you during your tournament fishing.  They are not full proof, but as we all know nothing is full proof when it comes to fishing.   Conditions change all the time and with them the bass' mood and eating habits also change.  Always be prepared to tweak your plan to meet the changes in conditions. Oh and let me point out that you really always have to apply rule number 1!!!

Until next time Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing!!!

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