tournament fishing

The End To A Great 1st Tournament Season

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This past weekend I wrapped up my first tournament season with KBF, placing 36th in the nation for Angler of the Year. To me this is quite a statement. Getting to this spot wasn’t easy, and it definitely could have been better. Most importantly was all the lessons learned throughout the season, goals achieved, and setting goals for next season. It has been quite a ride, but I’m ready for some much needed time off to regroup.

Obviously with all the work and guests that I have talked to since the start of the podcast, I knew this season wouldn’t be easy. However with the knowledge I have gained it definitely prepped me for some success. Tournament fishing isn’t easy, and you have to do a ton of work if you want to be successful at it. Many think that tournament anglers are just out there having a good ole time, but let me tell you first hand it’s a grind.

As schedules rolled out last Fall/Winter I sat down to see what was going to be feasible. I had a plan to fully commit to a lot of tournaments. Although I didn’t get to partake in all, I stayed focused on the National events. I fished the Central Trail Series run by Kayak Bass Fishing. I had a goal just to place in the top ten every tournament. It was a little far fetched, but I thought with the right determination it was achievable. I did manage two top 10 finishes in the trail events. I also partook in the Pro Tour as well, and managed a 2nd place finish there. There were only about 10 of us who fished the Central Pro Tour so placing top 10 there was no issue.

Another goal I had in mind was placing Top 50 for Angler of the year, and possibly taking home Rookie of the Year. I had no clue really where I would stack up against some of the best in the business . As stated in the beginning I ended up ranking 36th for Angler of the Year. That’s top 40 out of 991 people that competed in Trail Series events this year. As bummed as I was I didn't finish higher, looking back at the number of overall competitors, I feel thats pretty impressive for a Rookie.

Things learned this year, I think are going to be a major help as I look forward to next year. The one major thing I learned was don’t worry about everyone else, just worry about the battle between yourself and the fish. Don’t worry about the Angler of the Year standings. Do as much preparation as possible. Study, Study, Study, and do even more studying. But the most important thing overall, Have Fun doing what I love!

Looking forward, I will take everything from this year to help me progress through the tournament world. I made Top 40 this year so I will bump that to Top 30 next year. I feel if I don’t get greedy, stay humble, then great things will happen . To all of those considering making the leap, Just Do It! The best way to learn is by doing. So get out there and have a good time, and just have fun!

Tight lines and smooth paddlin!

Mark Twain Trail Stop- The Mental Melt Down

Where to begin….. Mark Twain was an interesting lake to say the least. The water had dropped 30 feet in the past two weeks prior to arrival. Leaving the lake as all rock and no variation other than depth changes. This was all new and foreign to me. However with some of the research I put in I was looking for some key features, but mainly long extended points into the main lake.

Two days of prefixing, I found fish and pretty quick on a few different patterns, but would they hold is always the question I have. I found fish on pitching jigs tailed with a Berkley Chigger Craw. I found them with a Googan Baits Bandito bug, and I even got a few bites on a TRD Craw by Z-Man.

Come tournament morning I showed up to a ramp in the Northwest part of the lake with a few other anglers there as well. I launched at go time, got to my spot, and anxiously awaited lines in. I started casting to the point I caught my biggest fish on in practice with no avail. I started to panic. I worked my way around the point and then finally connected with a 15” fish. Shortly after I had 3-15+” fish on the board. Then nothing…. I worked to some different areas and finally connected again right at the boat. I got lucky, but I’ll take it I told myself. Fished on and ended up missing my 5th fish. I started to scramble even more. No bites for the next hour, so I felt it was time to move to a different section of the lake.

As I drove to ramp two I started second guessing myself. Id this the right choice? At this point there is no real turning back. I am committed . I pulled into the ramp and instantly noticed all the kayaks in the area, and figured I should be able to get my 5th fish and lock in a top 10 spot. Well that thought went on to make me struggle even more. Cast after cast and no tug on the other end. I felt doomed, defeated, and just almost conquered as the clock wore down. I ended up short a 5th fish for a 20th place finish.

The mental anquish of competitive fishing is a struggle for myself, and many other anglers as well. Sometimes I let the AOY points race get to me, the wanting to finish good, and just come in with a limit of fish. I start to worry about all these things, and I end up forgetting about the most important part. Fishing! I get so focused one the other things, and I stop thinking about the fishing aspect of things. I need to change baits, look for different structures, and just relax and do what I know how to do. I think if you can just go out and fish, and forget about all the other things, this my friends will consistently put you at the top, and make you one of the best anglers out there.

So next time you are in a tournament, just go out there and fish, and enjoy what you love doing. The rest of it won’t be too far behind. Tight lines and smooth paddlin!