Most of us have heard some basic guidelines for maximizing your efficiency on tournament day by pre-rigging, pre-dying, change trebles, etc. We’ve also developed ways that may be unique to ourselves and our own style. I know I have! Still, we all have areas that we may be able to improve upon. I am fishing both the pro and co-angler side of several events this year and one thing that I’ve focused on is maximizing my co-angler efficiency. By learning to maximize your time on the water as a co-angler you will be able to make a smooth transition into the Pro side because you’ll have laid the proper groundwork. Here are some of the ways I prepare for a tournament.
Nutrition and hydration
In the days or weeks leading up to an event, nutrition and hydration play a huge role in how my body will perform while out on the water. I begin to hydrate my body several days before an event in order to have the proper fluid and electrolyte balance to avoid fatigued throughout the day. For events which take place during extreme heat, I carry small packets of Pedialyte in which I can add to my water bottle as necessary. I sweat a lot during events in the summer months and especially events held on desert lakes like Lake Mead, Havasu, and Roosevelt and it is crucial to replace lost electrolytes. Sports drinks are okay but they are also loaded with sugar, which you don’t need. You can reduce some of this sugar by emptying half of a sports drink into an empty container and mixing them both with water. It will not be as sweet but it’s more than enough to keep you hydrated and keep your taste buds happy. Furthermore, we bass anglers can burn up to 2500 calories in a day of fishing depending on the conditions during the event and how much we move around. It’s important to give your body a preview of what’s to come by balancing your diet and eating healthier. Foods like apples, almonds and chicken are all great snacks and easy to prepare in advance. You’ll need the proper calorie intake during the day to keep your mental focus. The night prior to a tournament I make sure I have most of my snacks packed or laid out to pack into my tackle bag. Of course you should always consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.
Oh the rituals of the night before tournament day! The vast majority of us tie up our “money winning” baits the night before the tourney. It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of pre-rigging and spooling line prior to tournament day. Aside from these two things, I go further in-depth with my pre-rigging. For example, if I know I’m fishing tube baits at Lake Oroville, I’ll dye and insert 10-20 jig heads into my tubes (along with some scent) the day or night before. If this is going to be a “drop shot” event I’ll also get and assortment of Skinny Bear Drop Weights, usually 3/16 & 1/4 ounce sizes and put them in one small bag to keep in my pocket. I don’t usually load more than 8-10 in a bag in order to keep them from pulling my shorts down! Along with the weights, but in a separate bag, I load my drop shoot hooks. This is usually the bag that the hooks come in so it is small as well. This way if I break off the weight, hook or both, I can quickly retie and be back in the water. I may also have a spare rod rigged but you get the idea. Also remember to keep a spare spool with you in order to eliminate the line twist one that may occur during the day. Change out your treble hooks a day or two before your event to see how the bait runs with either a larger or smaller size. Then have a few ready (in your tackle bag) during the tournament day in the event you need to change a busted or bent hook. If you’re flipping big baits, keep one or two of the 3/8-1/2 ounce weights in your pocket, along with weight stops and of course a tube (or bag) of scent! One final piece of preparedness I practice is to clean out my tackle bag and make sure I don’t have any unnecessary baits. This isn’t always easy but if you’ve pre-fished then you have a good idea of what’s working. You can leave the 10″ worms in the truck if you’re fishing Lake Shasta in January.
Understanding lake contours
Some people may chuckle and scoff when I tell them that I brought my own boat to pre-fish even though I was fishing an event as a Co-Angler. But I believe this to be a distinct advantage. If you have the ability to pre-fish with someone else or out of your own rig, you can learn a lot of necessary information on that body of water. For instance, you may find patterns that are effective knowing that you will be fishing out of the back of the boat and taking into account that your angles will be limited. You can also use this valuable pre-fish time to locate the depth in which fish are holding, and determine various baits and colors that are working. Come tournament day you can then use that information while fishing from the back of the boat to target the fish that the Pro may have overlooked. The list of advantages goes on and on but my point is this: If you can spend some time getting to know lake depths, contours and forage, then you have greatly increased your odds of catching fish and cashing a check versus other anglers who were not able to get on the water prior to the tournament.
Pairings and tournament morning
When you get your pairing information, call your pro right away to determine your morning meeting process, if there’s anything they need and if they need help launching. The morning of the tournament, be on time! It’s better to be early and prepared than have them waiting on you. Remember that it takes a lot of time, money and sacrifice to fish the Pro side so make sure you have your portion of gas/oil money ready. Don’t say “Oh, I forgot it but I’ll get it to you tomorrow”. Plan on offering up $40-$60 per day/pro depending on the body of water and how much running around you do. Even if you don’t catch fish, you’ve basically gotten a cheap guide trip out of it.
Being efficient on the water starts days and even weeks before you hit the ramp. Whether you’re fishing as a co-angler or professional you need to be efficient in order to be successful. The methods I have discussed are just a few of the ways I have helped myself to become more efficient and cash more checks. Give some of these ideas a try to become a better angler.
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