Tournament prep in a nut shell
Summing up tournament preparation in a single blog will take some summarising but here goes.
To say tournaments control my fishing would be an understatement, practically every waking thought in relation to fishing is to do with an upcoming event. All phone calls to friends have around ten seconds of pleasantries then we are straight into the nitty gritty of the plan. Prep work for the competition starts well before the prefish ban two weeks out, although this weekend has the potential to make or break the event before you start. The prefish weekend is all about proving what you know and cancelling out other techniques you have in the back of your mind. Occasionally the equilibrium is destroyed when the alternative techniques start to produce better quality fish. You should be aiming for two solid outcomes by the end of the prefish weekend, the gun lure and the key areas that it is working in. Areas can be as simple as specific depths, is this lure working in fifty feet of water or is it an edge bite. Cracking a pattern so to speak is the key to remaining competitive throughout an event, but to win an event you need to locate the winning fish. For some this will come on the day or even in the last session through some unconscious realisation or an epiphany with literally minutes remaining. Hopefully the big fish are found prior to the event and you just need to pray they will be cooperative each session. Big fish are often elusive and hard to rely on, this can make or break an anglers tournament plan. Experienced anglers often have a bag filling spot that they can catch a quick limit albeit small but enough to give them the confidence to do the hard yards on the bigger fish. More often than not one kicker fish in your bag each session is enough to seal the deal. Once the fish have been located and the tournament lure decided upon it is then time to set up the boat. Have a tackle box in an easy to get to compartment that is purely dedicated to the event. If they are biting on paddle tail plastics and ¼ ounce heads, have ten or more of your favourite colour rigged ready to go. It pays to have a few subtle variances in the mix in case the pressure forces a change in the fish, like pushing them deeper.
I am pedantic when it comes to rods, I hate changing between types of rods especially in an event. If I have the gear available I will rig 3 to 4 identical rods with identical reels. Two rods will be rigged with the confidence lures the other two with the slight variations each way. Having two rigged identically enables me to capitalise on a hot bite if my lure is torn or snagged, minimises down time in a seemingly short session. I take everything out of my boat that doesn’t match the bite pattern, I will take it to the event but leave it in the cabin. The less stuff in my boat the less confusion come crunch time. Know where your gear is, having designated spots in the boat for everything keeps the delays down and the fishing time up.
Finally check the mechanics of your boat are sound, ensure live wells and bilges are working. Play around with your sounder making sure the sensitivity is set to suit the water, on top of all that try to relax.