For those anglers that fish competitively at any level, they know all about preparing for a tournament. If you’re new to tournament fishing or are thinking about it, there are many things that factor into being successful.
Whether you’re fishing from a Kayak or a fully rigged bass boat, you need to make sure that your craft is maintained and ready for a day of competition. That also goes for your tow vehicle. Making sure there are no mechanical issues that may leave you stranded on the side of the road to or from the lake. Checking tires and lights on both, making sure you have oil for your boat and enough to hold you over for a full day of running around. Nothing is worse than having to cut a day short because you forgot to fill your oil container or bring extra to keep on-board the boat.
You’ll want to make sure to have tools in your truck and/or boat that for anything that may come up that’s not drastic enough to call for assistance. Having a little set of wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers will allow you to take care of most things that come up. Throw in some electrical and duct tape and you’re good to go.
Then comes tackle and rod prep. You know the body of water and now it’s time to start planning out how you are going to approach it. The time of year, weather, water conditions will all come into play while deciding what gear you are going to load into the boat. As you practice and see what’s working and what’s not, you will start to swap out tackle and gear until you figure out what you’re going to use for tournament day.
Now it’s time to hit the water… This is where practice is key in taking your initial thoughts of what you are going to do and then start to build on them. You may practice one or several days leading up to an event. Remember, practice is not always about catching fish it’s also about eliminating non-productive water, areas, techniques and baits. As you fine tune things you start to put a pattern together and then see how that can translate to other areas on that body of water. You’ll narrow everything down and then have a solid game plan for tournament day.
Okay, so now you’ve made sure your tow vehicle is good, your boat is good, your tackle and gear are ready and you’ve begun to start putting the puzzle pieces together via practice… But none of that matters if you’re head is not in the right place to compete. This is something I don’t think all anglers consider. What I’m talking about… is your mind in a good place?
Mental preparation or making sure your mind is in a good place to complete the task at hand is very important. I’ve experienced this in the past when I use to play a lot of pool. Whether in a tournament or let’s say making a little side bet, okay, gambling. If my mind was distracted by things outside of the pool table, I did not play to my potential. I stopped playing pool and started bass fishing and have experienced the same thing.
Having a stress-free mind is huge when you are competing in anything in my opinion. If you’re trying to focus on your performance but you have things weighing on your mind, it can make it much more difficult to compete at your best. I know it may sound crazy, but things like work, relationships and money just to name a few can all impact how you perform on game day. Those individuals that can block out distractions are putting themselves in a better position to do well in competition. Even better, if you can handle these things prior to the event, you are going to be in a much better place. Now this is different from being mentally prepared for say long days on the water, lack of sleep, the cold, rain or 105’ summer days on the water. Being mentally strong for those things is another story and also very important, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
Some may say that fishing is supposed to be relaxing and something you should be able to do and get away from any stress in your life, which is 100% true if you’re just going out and enjoying a day on the water. I actually feel it’s one of the best things for the soul. But this is not always the case when you’re talking about competition. Tournament fishing brings its own stresses because you want to perform well and compete against other anglers at a high level. If you have sponsors you want to have a good showing for them as well. Overall, you want to win!
The addition of outside stress can have you doing things like not focusing on casts, not feeling bites or not making the right on the water decisions. The little things that happen in a tournament day can all of a sudden become big things and a real problem. You can find yourself getting upset or having negative thoughts, which I promise you will impact how you perform and will snowball throughout the day. Starting off your tournament with outside stresses can really pile up if you let them.
Bottom line, your mind is one of the most important tools you have in competitive fishing and making sure it’s maintained is just as important as everything else, if not more. You need to figure out what works for you and puts you in a good mental state for competition day. However you do it, get your mind right!