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Tournament Bass Fishing, Is It For You
I remember my dad taking me and my brothers fishing in Michigan many years ago. We might often go to a neighborhood river, lake or cut to fish for perch, bluegills or the rest that may hit. Often, the fish weren’t biting and my dad and brothers would need to pack up and go home. I’d almost always ask to stay somewhat bit longer but usually the answer was a vote, and that i normally lost.
I distinctly remember a visit to a Michigan cut, off of Lake Huron, when supposedly the perch were running. After a couple of hours soaking minnows, we had not caught a thing. My dad had a friend who lived within a mile of the cut and told us to pack it up and we’ll all get warmer at his buddies house. I complained as usual and asked him if I could stay because I assumed the fish would start biting when the water started warming up later within the day. He took some time to answer and replied “Paul, aren’t you cold Let’s warm up at my buddy’s place. Besides, the fish aren’t biting.” After all my answer was, “Dad, please can I stay longer I do know they’re going to start biting.” Dad said, ” You understand Paul, you have to love fishing. I will inform you what, you’ll be able to fish for a few hours and I am going to take Mark and Matt with me unless they want to remain.” Was I ever happy and naturally my brothers did not want to remain, in order that they took off with dad.
It was cold, about 40 degrees and that i checked/changed my minnow every 5 minutes or so. I might cast up the cut, down the cut, changed my spot but nothing seemed to want my bait. I used to be watching my line (no bobber) when finally I got a bite. Jerked on the pole and reeled in a 10″ perch. Within about 10 minutes I caught about 5 perch, stringered all of them up and time expired as my dad and brothers came to select me up. Darn, I wish they’d stayed at my dad’s buddies house slightly longer.
Well guess what, they were so surprised that I caught some fish, we got to remain a couple more hours and we came home with a nice bucket of yellow bellied perch (Mmmm, these were delicious).
Prerequisites for a Tournament Bass Fisherman:
So what’s my point The purpose is that you simply either like to fish, even if they are not biting otherwise you wish to do it once in awhile. In case you love fishing as I do, you could be very competitive in bass tournaments, while should you only need to fish once in awhile, you will not be too successful. If you’re the latter, just fish for fun and save your tournament entry money.
Another prerequisite for a superb bass tournament fisherman is the desire to compete. If you’re laid back, just prefer to cast your line out and look forward to the fish to hit, then tournament fishing is not for you. I grew up playing baseball, running some track and enjoyed these sports. I also had a bunch of brothers, so competition has been instilled in my personality. In actual fact, whenever I get along with my best bass fishing buddy (met him in Gainesville, Florida while going to UF for my degree) either fishing for fun or prefishing for a tournament, we are always raz one another. If he has more fish, he’ll yell something my way saying something like “So, if you going to discover ways to fish” or ” That’s a sissy bait your throwing, no wonder you can’t catch any fish!” Big fish also has the braggin rights and usually we tease one another with sayings like this, “How many more dinks ya gonna catch ” or “My one fish outweighs all 3 of yours”, etc. It is always competitive, so in case you have this spirit in your blood, then you definitely might be a superb tournament fisherman.
How to begin Bass Fishing in Tournaments:
OK- So that you think you’ve gotten met the prereqs and wish to tournament fish. This is my first suggestion, join a neighborhood bass club. There are numerous published bass club lists on the web, so just Google with “Bass clubs your state” for a listing to start out with. You might also inquire at an area lake and talk to some fishermen there.
There are two sorts of bass clubs: 1- Draw tournament and a pair of- Team tournaments. The draw clubs have boaters and non-boaters prior to the tournament launch, the boaters are paired with non boaters through a random draw out of a hat. If possible, do that club style 1st and fish a number of tournaments as a non-boater. You may be surprised how much you did not find out about bass fishing once you see how your boater partner fishes. It is great to learn from more experienced anglers!
The team type clubs have the identical non boater and boater teamed up all year long. When you have a very good fishing buddy that you just need to fish with, go ahead and join this type. The primary disadvantage of this style of tournament fishing is that your learning curve for competitive fishing is for much longer because you have no experienced tournament fishermen to learn from. You will miss out on some special tips on how one can flip, pitch, sidearm cast, prevent splashes during pitching, Texas rig correctly, etc. In the event you do that style, read plenty of online information and maybe subscribe to Bassin’ or Bassmaster magazine (I believe FLW also has one).
So, you followed my recommendation and wish to affix a draw style club tournament so what’s next. You’ll usually must attend their club meetings. Within the south, there’s usually one club meeting a month while within the north it maybe as often as twice a month due to their limited fishing season. On the club meeting they usually discuss new members, tournament results, payouts, the following tournaments location and a sundry of items. In that meeting, you usually decide to go boater or non boater. After this, the boater is paired with the non boater and you’ll find out who your partner might be. If there are more boaters than non boaters, it is usually worked out who would be the boater through a rule or through negotiation between the paired boaters. Through the meeting, get your partners phone number so you’ll be able to call him. During this meeting, the boat launch position is usually announced as well.
Previous to the actual tournament call your partner. While you come up with him ask him the following questions:
1- Would you like me to return to your own home and we are able to go together or would you like to only meet on the ramp Tell him you’ll share all gas expenses with him which is the norm for draw tournaments or team tournaments for that matter. After all you do not need to pay for his truck gas if he says just meet him on the ramp. You’ll always have to split the price of the boat gas!
2- What number of rods can I bring and the way much tackle Can I bring my cooler or do you’ve one for my drinks If the boater has a small boat, he may ask you to downsize the quantity of equipment to bring. That is a typical light switch 3 gang courtesy, besides you’re using his boat aren’t you
3- Do I must bring my lifejacket Lifejackets are a mandatory item for bass tournaments, however your boating partner may have already got 2 and your extra one may only crowd the boat. Ask him just in case he does not have an extra, or he would not like strangers using them out of courtesy.
4- What time would you like me at your home or ramp There’s nothing more aggravating to a boater than a late non boater. Usually the boater will “pad” the travel time with an hour or so to allow for gas stops, snack stops and possible flat tires. So in case your usually are not spending the night before at a local hotel near the lake, be ready to stand up very early to make the trip to the boaters house or be ready for an early pickup by the boater. Just be ready when the boater asks you to be.
5- Would you like me to make some sandwiches for you Although not a mandatory question, it’s a pleasant offer and the boater will probably be more willing that will help you through the tournament.
I probably forgot some questions, but please ask those I listed. Things will go a lot more smooth should you do.
Pre Tournament Preparation
Prefishing: Essentially the most neglected a part of pre-tournament preparation is the lack of pre-fishing. If you are a boater or non-boater, similar to a class in highschool or college, if you don’t do your homework you is not going to do well in your test. Just think of the tournament as a test and pre-fishing as homework.
Pre-fishing involves trying out the lake where the tournament is to happen previous to the actual tournament. Regardless of what number of times you might have been successful on this lake prior to now, it’s best to pre-fish to search out the dominant pattern for the present weather conditions, water levels, cover and time of the year. Attempt to pre-fish as near possible to the tournament date. During prefishing, never stick more than 2 fish in a single spot, and if the fish should not very active similar to in cold fronts, chances are you’ll wish to limits it to 1 fish. After that, use hooks with the barbs removed if you would like further verification that the bass concentration is sweet and do not set the hook on any more hits in that area. If you’re sight fishing, just use your GPS to mark the spots and maybe toss a hook less bait to verify that the fish could be willing to hit the bait.
Try quite a lot of baits and locations during prefishing. GPS all the spots that produced fish and note the cover/depth and weather conditions when/where you caught fish. If you’re the non-boater, it remains to be your obligation to pre-fish when you’ve got a boat. You need to assist your partner as much as possible, and also you never know as you might have better spots than your boating partner. Try prefishing with a partner. The partner doesn’t need to be your boater/non boater, however the more lines in the water with various baits, the more likely you can see the successful pattern.
Fishing Tackle: Ensure your reels have good line on them i.e. the line just isn’t old or has not taken an excessive amount of set leading to tight curly loops. Replace the line if necessary. Lube up your reels if time permits.
Retie all lures with fresh knots while removing the 1st couple of feet of line. You never know when you have nicks or knot abrasion from your last fishing trip. If you continue to have plastics in your hook, throw them away, leave the hook barren until the day of the tournament, then put on your soft plastic. This retains the smell/scent of the bait.
Ensure you might have adequate fish scent in your soft plastics as well as enough toothpicks for Texas rigged baits. Be sure to pack your pliers and clippers.
Sharpen your whole hooks. If possible replace your worm hooks with new ones. Crankbaits corresponding to Rattletraps often have dull hooks. Replace them with sharper ones like Gamagatzu’s.
While pre-fishing, tune your lipped crankbaits by bending the eye so that they run straight.
Finally, use a rod cover if possible previous to storing the rods in your rod locker (it’s also good for the non boater). This won’t only protect the rods, but will prevent the rods from tangling inside your box.
Boat Gear and light switch 3 gang Tow Vehicle: As a boater you have to check the next:
1- 2 cycle oil reservoir is filled and take an extra gallon if possible.
2- Fill up the gas tank or at the least put in enough to last the entire tournament.
3- Charge up your trolling motor batteries and big motor battery.
4- Check your trailer tires/tow vehicle tires for air pressure and lube the trailer wheel bearings via the zerk fitting.
5- Fill up your tow vehicle and check the oil and antifreeze.
6- Bring an affordable 12V air inflator and tire plug kit. These work great in case you get a screw/nail in either your tow vehicle or trailer tire.
7- Make certain your vehicle jack will work in your trailer, if not you may have to purchase a bottle jack on your trailer in case it gets a flat.
8- Make sure that your spare tires have air in them.
9- Always hook up your safety chains when towing and check your winch strap/cable for any signs of wear.
10- You should definitely plug in your trailer lights
11- Put in your boat plug just to be on the safe side. Whether it is raining you possibly can always bilge or pull out your plug on the ramp. It is better than trying to get the boat back on the trailer when it is sinking because you forgot to place the plug in!
12- Check your boat lights out to ensure they work.
13- Be sure you bring your raingear and lifejackets.
14- Be sure that you have got non expired flares, fire extinguishers and whistle or horn.
15- Check your boat registration/trailer registration. I leave these in a compartment in my boat.
16- Pack your float markers.
17- Bring your fishfinder and GPS.
18- Check all of your trailer and tow vehicle lights.
19- Bring your weigh in bags.
There’s probably another things, but this list should always be checked.
Boat Ramp Launch Preparation and Launch: 1st, be sure you leave early enough to get to the boat ramp at the very least one hour before safelight. Safelight doesn’t equal sunrise! It is usually 30 minute to an hour before sunrise. Bass tournaments start the launch process at safelight.
Bass tournament fishermen are sometimes impatient. That’s their competitive nature going to work and rookies at boat ramps are sometimes aggravating to tournament fishing pros. The principle reason is the period of time the rookies take to launch their boat.
While you get to the ramp and you’re approaching a line of boats switch to your parking lights only (so long as you possibly can see in front of you). This helps the fishermen who’re launching their boats see the ramp and the trail their boat is taking while they back up. Bright headlights of their eyes while backing up blinds them!
While in line, both you and your partner must make launch preparations. this is the list:
1- Keep your parking lights on and exit the vehicle.
2- Remove your boat straps, transom saver and double check that your boat plug is in.
3- If a vehicle ahead of you pulls up, get back in your vehicle and pull up again. This can prevent a line forming that goes out to the primary highway.
4- Prime your fuel bulb in your boat.
5- Put in your boat lights.
6- Lower your motor to a lower position, but to not low as to hit the bottom while going over bumps/grade.
7- Ensure everything is out of the tow vehicle and in your boat that you’re going to take. If there’s a ship check in the road, open up your livewells and your compartments so the check might be done quickly.
8- In case you are next in line to launch, line up the tow vehicle and boat to the ramp. If the non boater can, have him back in the boat with you in it. Be sure you tell him to shut all windows, bring the keys and lock up the vehicle after he parks. Tell him to look at you for hand signals as the backup lights will light you up and that you may be having him stop when the tires first touch water. This is so you’ll be able to undo the bow strap/cable. Also have him open up the side window so he can here you just in case something happens or he misunderstands your hand signals. Usually a come here motion together with your hands means keep backing up while a palm forward (like a policeman stop) means stop. Tell him to take his time. A degree to the left or right implies that the boat must go that way, while a straight back come here means to go straight back.
9- When the tires 1st hit the water (that is approx. and should vary in line with what you like), indicate a stop. Go to the front and undo your bow strap. Get back within the boat driver seat, and have the non boater come back until the boat is floating, then give him the stop signal. Give him the go forward signal (motion forward) so he can park.
10- Lower your motor the remainder of the best way for carbureted motors (not necessary for EFI systems) and put your idle bar in the most effective position to start out . Prime the motor by holding the important thing in (most motors) and start the motors. Get out of the best way of the ramp as soon as you’ll be able to and discover a spot to beach or dock.
11- Turn in your boat lights.
12- Warm your engine until it is warm enough that it will likely be easy to begin at launch time. Then turn it off.
13- Plug your livewells.
14- While your partner makes his way back to your boat, get the rods out you’re going to make use of and strap them in along with your Rod Savers or bungies on your front deck.
15- Use your flashlight and get your soft plastics on.
16- Now your ready for the pre-tournament meeting.
This meeting is usually held when all fishermen have launched their boats. It could start before if there are late arrivers, but those late arrivals will just miss the meeting.
Through the meeting, the dimensions limit, the number of fish per fisherman or boat, off limits, weigh in time and other items will likely be discussed. Ensure you get the weigh in time and the official time. The official time is the one announced that corresponds to the tournament directors time. Therefore offset your watch to match the tournaments official time.
Once the meeting is over, go to your boat, dawn your lifejackets and attach your kill switch. Do not start your motor until it gets closer to your launch number. This just makes it easier to listen to the tournament director.
If the boat check is on the water, idle slowly by the check point with livewells running. They are going to signal you to go if they see you’re clear.
When your boat number known as idle beyond all other boats, upon getting cleared them, get on plane quickly so you don’t hold up the road. Never start to plane if there are alot of boats idling in your planing path. Just use common sense here as nobody likes to have a wave come over the sides of their boat when another boat planes right next to them!
In the event you and your partner did your “homework”, you won’t be doing numerous lure changing, tying lures or running across the lake looking for biting bass. If there was a serious cold front or other major change like water level drop, you will have to regulate. Still depend on the spots you caught fish in pre-fishing but it’s possible you’ll must flip or go to the following closest dropoff to seek out the fish you located during practice.
The non boater must respect the boaters preferences, however in the event you developed an excellent rapport prior to the tournament, things will go much smoother. The non boater usually has rights to 50% of the front of the boat during a club tournament. In some big tournaments this is not the case. In order for you the front, just be courteous and ask. If the boater says no, don’t bring it up any further and do the perfect you possibly can from the back. A boater that always says no to a non boaters request will often be discovered at a later time and can not be welcome in that club.
If you’re a non boater and fishing from the back of the boat always cast towards the front or side of the boat, never behind when working a weed/timber line. Just respect the boaters line and never cast over his line or into the trail of the trolling motor.
If you’re the boater, just remember once you 1st started and how unfair it was when that boater never allow you to up front. Do not you remember the club murmurs of a certain individual that constantly backboated his partner, elbows out like a chicken so there was no way a non boater could effectively cast. I assume that is the largest downside of a draw tournament!
Once you catch your 1st fish, quickly measure it, closed mouth on a metal ruler like the “Golden Rule”. Ensure that it measures as not only are you able to be penalized at weigh in but you might get a ticket from the wildlife officer. Close the drain plugs on your livewells if you have not already and activate the aerators. Put the fish in the livewell as soon as possible. When the livewells are full, I like to modify over to recirculate and put my timer on.
When you gut hook a fish, I normally leave the hook in it is stomach and cut of the road. This may do rather a lot less damage than ripping out the hook.
In the event you get a limit, I cull by weighing all my fish and using a numbered float system. For instance, #1 float = 2.8 pounds, #2= 1.5 pounds, etc.. I record this on a bit of paper. Once i get my next fish over the limit, I release the lightest one and place the brand new weight on the paper for that float number. Hopefully you may be doing this all day long, but remember never to have more fish in your livewell than the limit.
Netting fish properly can be essential. The very last thing you need to do is to wack the fish within the side or the head and knock off the fish. When your partner has a fish on, quickly reel in your line and get the online. Attempt to get the online near the water, when the fish approaches, try to net it by submerging the web before the fish and getting it head first. That way the fish is swimming into the web rather than away from it. Never hit your partners line or the side of the fish with the online. Usually your partner will let you realize when to net, but you should be ready!
If it is hot, make certain so as to add ice to your livewells from time to time. Also be certain that you utilize sunscreen.
When it gets near tournament weigh in time, remind one another of what time it’s and how long it will take. Make time adjustments in keeping with weather conditions. A thunderstorm or high winds in the afternoon will likely double or triple the time it took you to get to your spot. Just be sure you adjust for this.
It is time to go, so put in your lifejackets, attach the kill switch and go!
If there may be an enormous line, keep your fish within the livewell so they do not need to be in un-oxygenated weigh in bag. When the time is close, quickly move your fish into the weigh bags being careful that the fish do not jump out of your livewells (Hmmm, has this ever happened to me) and into the lake. For the too close for comfort fish, re-measure and if undecided ask the tournament director for a courtesy measure. It will prevent measurement of short fish and a hefty penalty.
Watch the scales while your fish are being weighed. If the size does not closely match your culling weigh paper, ask for a retare of the size if possible. Sometimes the scales mess up do to low battery or wind conditions.
In case your in the money, congrats! Shake the tournament directors hand with a giant smile in your face.
If you bought the prereqs, you have to try tournament bass fishing! So pre-fish and Do ore Catching with Less Fishing.
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