First and foremost, let me say that the tips I’ll be sharing with you here are NOT a guarantee to win in kayak tournaments. These are observations I’ve made in my own tournament experience.
I have failed countless times- more than I’d like to admit. Everyone is a winner if you learn from your mistakes and simply enjoy the experience with your fellow anglers. If you’re not having fun, maybe fishing is not for you.
Let’s start by saying this. If you want to contend with tournament fisherman you’ll have to follow their successful path, but then make it your own. Do your homework.
Tournament fishing off a kayak can be challenging. One of the first questions you ask yourself is where am I going to go? Is live bait an option in this tournament? If so, what size is the bait and color? Knowing these things can really help you plan a better tournament experience.
When I said doing your homework, I meant to go out fishing that day fully prepared. Know what the tides are for the day. Is the current acting in your favor? If not, what is your experience telling you to do? Do that. Also, is it sunny or overcast? Understanding these factors gives you a greater chance of succeeding and a bigger edge against your competitors, but this is just the beginning.
I wouldn’t say the old bait and wait technique won’t work for kayak fishermen, but I also wouldn’t call it a tournament technique either. Know the species you’re targeting and understand what makes them tick. Bait selection is key; it is part of your success. This applies to artificial lures as well as live bait and learning all there is to know about all forms of bait. Fishing with artificial lures can be lucrative if you use them correctly. Assemble your tackle box based on the successful experience you had catching fish with those particular items. Don’t forget what the conditions were that day when you caught that particular species and what colors you were using.
So you caught that fish! Now what? Well, first determine if the fish is legal or not. Most tournaments set the size limit in place before you head out. If you don’t plan to kill your fish do your best to keep them alive and be humane. Some tourneys require you to practice catch and release. Others will penalize you for every dead fish you bring back subtracting from your total weight. This is not true with all tournaments.
Some of the best advice I’ve been given is to not throw back ANY LEGAL SIZE FISH. Other anglers could have had a terrible day, regardless of their winning reputation. I have personally made this mistake one too many times and I regret it. Also pay close attention to where your fellow anglers are fishing. Don’t get too close to them, they can be territorial during a tournament. But if you’re given the OK to be nearby, feel free to pick their brains on how they have been doing and how they have been catching fish. Some fisherman will give great advice. Always listen to other anglers and don’t discount your personal experiences catching fish and reciprocate in sharing your knowledge.
I wish you all great success in kayak tournament fishing! Never give up. Don’t let your friends’ smack talk ever get into your head. Always abide all state and tournament regulations.
It’s your responsibility to learn what they are.
Respect all anglers who decide to fish these tourneys as we all have one thing in common. We’re there to catch fish. We’ll weigh them in for a possible jackpot and of course, bragging rights!.
I hope this article is helpful in conveying understanding of what it takes to be successful in tournament kayak fishing. Again, this is not the be all and end all of tournament fishing. Trust the knowledge you are acquiring every time you go out.
Until next time fellow anglers, enjoy your kayak, stay fishy, and keep your lines tight!