This is the most commonly asked question by novice anglers who want to start fishing bass tournaments.  Where do I start?

   Some people may tell you that you should start with a Bass Club or local jackpot tournament. In my opinion, your best learning experience would be fishing a “Pro-Am” tournament as a non-boater/co-angler. By fishing with a professional partner, you will be able to soak up more knowledge than you ever could alone. The entry fee for a, let’s say, B.A.S.S. Open is somewhat expensive but less than you would spend on a one-day guide trip.  By fishing alongside a pro partner, you will not only learn new skills from your partner, but you will also get a better idea of what it takes to succeed in the competitive tournament environment.

  While fishing with a pro, you will learn even more if you will pay close attention to what type of water he has chosen to fish, what depth he is fishing, and why he is using certain baits. This will all be valuable knowledge that will help your understanding of bass behavior and how to catch them.

  When you go fish your first Pro-Am tournament, it is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the rules of the particular tournament you are fishing. Also do your homework on things like the proper fishing etiquette when fishing with a pro, along with what type of tackle and equipment you should bring. You should also plan on sharing in some of your pros expenses, like fuel.

  To improve your fishing knowledge, the computer can be your best friend. The internet is packed with information on fishing equipment, techniques and how to fish different baits.  YouTube videos alone can provide a wealth of valuable knowledge that you can refer back to in real life situations.

  Part of your knowledge arsenal should include sharpening your understanding of the seasonal patterns of bass.  This knowledge will help you choose the best possible bait for a particular time of year. It helps to have a better idea what the bass are doing, or expected to be doing, at any given seasonal change. Although not always predictable, since Mother Nature can always throw curve ball, but at least by having some basic understanding, it will get you swinging at the ball.

  When it comes down to tournament day, make sure you have all your equipment organized and stored. Be sure and know where you put everything so as not to waste extremely valuable time that can be lost searching for lures, scales, calling rings, etc.  Good time management can make the difference in success and failure when competing.

 

 

  Now, let’s say you have been fishing as a co-angler for some time and are feeling comfortable enough to move up the tournament ladder. In order to take on the front of the boat, you must ask yourself some important questions:

  • Do you have the confidence to compete at higher lever?
  • Do you have the time and money to make this move? Can you afford to lose large entry fees if unsuccessful?
  • Are you willing to make the investment in the boat and equipment needed to enter this level?
  • Are you prepared to make the personal sacrifices required like time away from your job and family?

  If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, then make the move up. For me, it has been a sport I have thoroughly enjoyed for over 30 years. The most important lessons I have learned is that it is not always about winning (although really nice when it happens) … it is more about the time spent with good friends and the memories made that will last a lifetime.

  I hope to see you at a tournament in 2013.  Even if you don’t participate, come out to weigh-in and support the fishermen who do.

-Written by Jerry Dolezal