I don't know too many people that are able to actually fish a tournament and not dump their entire heart and sole into it. I played with 100 scenarios and came to the conclusion that I would fish and work.
With less than a week to gather my thoughts, get a game plan, learn the lake, contact my sponsors for appropriate tackle and only have one day of pre-fishing—I was finding myself neck deep in madness. This wasn't just some tournament, this was a Hobie Worlds qualifying event, which means who ever won this tournament would be competing in the Netherlands.
Here's my suggestions if you find yourself in a similar scenario:
- Step 1: I ordered a hard copy map of the lake. I did this, because I like to compare it to my electronics. Sometimes having paper in your hand or blown up on your table helps you catch the small things.
- Step 2: Did my online pattern research for this time of year. Depth of water I should focus on, technique, colors, structure, etc.
- Step 3: Weather research—past , present and future. I wanted to focus more on how much rain they received vs what we're expecting (if any). I'm also fishing from a kayak and wind will always play a larger roll. I wanted to see which side of the lake I might need to spend my time on.
- Step 4: Ask my friends for advice. Never hesitate to ask someone for advice. The questions you ask might help you eliminate unproductive water and cut down on the time you invest on research and preparation. Be sure to THANK THEM!
- Step 5: I took a deep breath and told myself "just go fishing".
I learned a lot about tournament prep, but in reality I ended up not fishing the tournament, due to increasing work requirements. I'm a fisherman first; it would have been extremely difficult for me to mix work and play.
I'm glad I experienced the rush of tournament prep. It put me on my toes and I was able to walk into the tournament with an idea of where the guys might be and how they would be fishing. Hunting down 30 kayaks on a lake where they're authorized to launch their boat at any public ramp maybe photo opportunities challenging.