The longer I fish, the more I am amazed, but at the same time befuddled by the complexity that is tournament bass fishing. It seems like each year the sport gets more and more complex with even more technology. Whether it is the invention of the PowerPole for maintaining position in shallow water, down imagining and side scans in electronics or the Alabama Rig for freshwater guys, the pace at which the sport has evolved is astonishing. Nonetheless, there are many things that have remained the same such as the attention to detail that it takes to compete in a tournament series, and preparation I didn’t know existed till I devoted much of my free time in college to the sport I have grown to love and hate.
Christmas and New Years are behind us and I’m slowly transitioning into the normal routine of the working world. Thoughts are shifted from picking up last minute Christmas gifts for loved ones to the realization that an approaching season means entry fees are but a small investment awaiting the eager angler. Use these tips and knowledge to survive the so far (fingers crossed) mild winter we have experienced to this point:
1) New Years resolutions do not have to be confined to bad habits and the latest diet trends. I have always been taught the benefit of writing down the things I wish to accomplish/take part in over the course of the year. I can recall using this for something as simple as planning how to spend personal time while on vacation. Just like any form of creative thought, all things come to fruition by first brainstorming. This will help you to better organize your ideas. Elementary, I agree, but none of us are spared from overlooking the most basic fundamentals. It is never too late to set personal goals whether it is in tournament fishing or just an initiative to explore deeper into nature.
2) Assess your rods and reels, for they will surely experience wear and tear regardless of how much money you spend on them. Corrosion in your reel and even on your rods can make the difference between the perfect cast into cover and coming up short. The cleaner the tools of the trade, the less work both you and your equipment will endure. Clean around your rod guides to avoid any unnecessary friction. Often a guide that is worn may lose its perfect smoothness and wear at your line as it travels off the spool and down the rod. As seen in one of the most recent FLW magazines, take a cotton swab and run it inside each guide. If the cotton catches on the guide, replace the blank insert. For cork handles, put some rubbing alcohol on a rag to reinvigorate the appearance of your rod. Line can deteriorate over time as well, so throw out anything that feels compromised. Confidence is everything in fishing.
3) Use the downtime to place the necessary tackle orders for spring. By analyzing the condition of your equipment you will better understand your needs. For the best selection, I would recommend going through Tackle Warehouse. Not only do they have free ground shipping, holidays mean an array of special deals and offers to help you save your hard earned cash.
4) The earlier an angler prepares their tournament season schedule, the better you can prepare for making the necessary accommodations of housing, licenses, etc. Working around one or two weekend shifts a month can make things stressful, but knowing these restraints beforehand has helped me determine the time I can spend on the water. For the BFL Series or similar link style tournaments, reach out to fellow anglers on social media and on the FLW or similar forums that allow communication. As I have learned, linking with a boater/co-angler that you are not associated with prior can introduce you to new techniques and angler groups. If possible, spend practice time with your guaranteed boater/co-angler to divide and conquer fisheries. As discussed in blogs in the past, teamwork has substantial benefits.
5) Time during the season is limited, so use your spare time to maintain the ways in which you represent yourself: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Website, Email, Sponsors, etc. The angler must determine how involved he/she wants to be, but today’s internet allows for sharing of information in ways we didn’t have even ten years ago. No matter your interests, there are others who share in your passions and the internet allows these connections. Even fishermen have to maintain a resume, so maintain a detailed record of all your accomplishments and media coverage. Over the next few weeks I will be submitting website changes and sending emails to collaborators.
I can recall sports coaches and idols I looked up to as a kid reiterating the importance of hard work. The words often flip through my head in times of mental weakness. While you are sleeping there is someone out there putting in the extra effort; whether it be in the form of reps in the gym, pitches of the jig into a small cup, or even studying one more textbook chapter for an upcoming exam, you must work harder. In 2015, my goal is to focus on the things I can control and let the rest take care of itself. Just as we must zone out the contemplation of what our competitor is doing on the water or on the court, take satisfaction in preparing to the best of your ability. As Albert Einstein once stated, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Explore the intricacies in all of your endeavors. Good fishing my friends!