We've all missed bites. We’ve all had that question, “What if it was a big one? What if it was a 10 pounder?” You’ve felt that tick in your line and swung into nothingness. Where did that fish go? How big was it? It happens. It’s going to happen again. Now in all likelihood, that was probably a 2 or 3 pounder. Generally speaking, a massive bass is going to suck the bait in and you’ll hardly feel it. You’re going to go to move your bait, and there is this dead weight on the end of your line. You always have the chance to swing into a big one. Maybe you will miss a big one or two, but as long as you get back up and keep fishing, you’ve got another chance at a beast.
We all wish we could go out and catch fish every time. It would be great to be able to just go out and find the perfect pattern every time you are on the water. But that’s just not how it works. There will be days when nothing is working and you need to be prepared for that. The quicker you can figure out that a pattern isn’t working and be able to adapt from that, the better off you will be. Sure, there will be days when you just pull up to your first spot and the fish are eating everything you throw at them. But that isn’t what makes a great angler. A great angler can adapt when the fish aren’t biting and can go find where the fish are willing to eat. A great angler can succeed when no one else can.
Tournament fishing has grown massively in the past ten or so years. There are lots of different trails and they chase lots of different species. No matter what, there is probably a trail that fits your style. Now let’s say that you want to get started in competitive fishing tournaments. Start off by searching for clubs and tournament trails in your general area. Some trails have people fishing as partners and weighing in fish as a team, while other trails have people fishing solo. You can narrow down your search based upon whether you want to do teams or solo, if it even makes a difference to you. I personally would recommend just getting out on a trail before narrowing down whether you want to fish as a team or solo. Once you find a club or tournament trail that you think may be good for you, reach out to either the tournament director or even a fishing forum that may have information regarding their ability to get a non-boater paired up with a boater. Some tournament trails do this very well, while others are somewhat lacking in this area. Now that you have gotten signed up for your first tournament and paid any entrance fees there may be (this can widely vary from trail to trail), what should you bring to your first tournament? For non-boaters, I would recommend bringing around four to five rods. Assuming you can throw a baitcaster, I would recommend bringing one spinning rod and three to four baitcasting rods. When it comes to tackle, I would recommend going light on your first trip. Bring maybe a small tackle bag or a fishing backpack, with a bunch of soft plastics, terminal tackle, and hard baits. Perhaps most importantly among your gear is your PFD. You need to have a PFD with you. I would recommend packing your PFD first in order to not forget it. Also be sure to bring a snack with you, as you may get hungry during the tournament. Now that you are packed, remember that it is just a tournament. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your time on the water. As long as you relax and enjoy your time on the water, you’ll be alright.