Sometimes, just one fish can put you on top of the world. The path to victory is paved with more than positive thinking and a sprinkle of luck. A great angler or team is prepared and educated on how to win. We have put together a few must do’s to be prepared. After that, all that is left is to hope that lady luck shows her face.
Rig for a win
Proper boat rigging ranks as a high priority among serious tournament anglers. Rigging must accommodate a wide range of techniques, including downrigger-trolling, kite-fishing, slow-trolling, drifting or even anchoring, any of which might be needed, depending on the time of year or coastal region. Rigging will also be determined by the species you are targeting. Most of the successful teams have their boats fully stocked with all the lures, rigs, leader material and terminal tackle they might possibly need. This allows them to quickly adapt to any feeding pattern they might find once on the fishing grounds.
It is vital to know what you are fishing for to win! The educated angler has a good idea, before they arrive at the dock, the types of conditions they can expect to encounter and most can even tell you how aggressive the fish will be. Know your fish and know your coastal region. Start a few days ahead of the tournament and find the current fishing reports on the net. Also check sea-surface temperatures and chlorophyll patterns on sites such as sst-offshore.com. Another great idea is talk to other local anglers and see if they can confirm your research, remember fisherman love to tell tall tales. A change in existing weather patterns is no doubt the most common condition that the angler has to deal with. We check Magic Seaweed, and yes, we know it is a surfers site. They have the most accurate swell models, wind reports and even show the tides. It is important to know the water clarity and water temperatures which can greatly effect pelagic fish. Also tides and moon phases can turn on and off the bite.
Become a Baitmaster
Choosing your bait is one of the key components of catching your prize. Now, depending on what species you are targeting will greatly determine your bait. It is always wise to keep all types available from the best artificials to the sweetest livies you can find. Everyone has heard that “Big baits equal big fish” – we agree! Sometimes combining a great skirt in front of live bait can make a smaller bait appear to be larger and entice a strike. Dead baits don’t swim, so baitmasters often combine a swimming lure with a dead bait to catch a tournament winning fish. Aylesworth Fish and Bait has some of the best tournament chum and sardines on the market. The chum is a special formula that they have perfected and an absolute must if you are in a Kingfish Tournament.
Mind games and head trips
We all know how important it is to be in the right state of mind during a tournament, and even during pre-fish days. If you keep thinking about problems at work or at home, or if you keep wondering how the guy in that Yellowfin is doing, you are going to be seriously off your game. It’s not just your own problems that can interfere with your fishing – fellow competitors are only too happy to mess with your head. Dock talk is one form they prey on. It can start with a simple, “So how did you do today?” (especially while pre-fishing) This can trigger EGO responses that cause the embellished stories to make our minds wander: Where did they fish? Do they really have a 50 lber? Did we see them then out there? Better yet, did they see where we were fishing? and so on.
Sometimes it doesn’t even take words to psych an angler out. All it takes is a certain angler to show up to registration and suddenly everyone is talking about how they will be lucky to take second if he is fishing. Don’t dwell on things you can’t change. When you are fishing keep a positive attitude. Once you let someone tick you off and ruin your day, you may as well go home.
No one said that catching a trophy fish was easy, but these tips should help steer you in the right direction.