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Fishing Tournament Tactics and Strategies - Part 1

Take note of such things as water clarity, water temp, as well as the outside weather (i.e. Sunny? Windy? Cloudy? Rainy?) Then note what was working at that point in time. This will help you develop a pattern.


Whether or not you are familiar with the lake you are going to fish, you should always make time to pre-fish. If you are fishing with a partner, be sure that both of you are pre-fishing with different baits/lures. This would allow you to know if the fish prefer one particular lure or bait over another. Pre-fishing is the time to try many different lures/baits & see if you can determine a pattern.

While pre-fishing, also try different depths & different locations. Check out a map of the area & do not just fish the same spots you normally go to – fish some other new spots as well. You might just find a new “honey hole”.

Tournament Day

To start with, don’t be rushed. It is important to get to bed early, wake up early, have a good breakfast & of course your morning coffee. You should have prepared a game plan the night before & checked the weather forecast. Once you are on the water, you & your partner should open up with different baits/lures & then hone in on the baits/lures which are working.

Stay Approach

As the day goes on, the biggest question is always, do I stay at my current spot – or do I move. Basically, if you are on fish, you generally “don’t leave fish to find fish”. However, sometimes you know the fish are there, but they have turned off for some reason. In this case, leave, but only temporarily. Once those fish turn back on again, you will want to be there to cash in.

“Run & Gun” Approach

Some tournament anglers like to “run & gun”. With this approach, you basically fish many different spots throughout the day, hoping that you can pluck fish out of each spot & put together a nice catch. This method can be very effective, so long as you are not spending more time driving than fishing.

Compromise Approach

As a compromise, a solid tournament tactic is to fish your core spots & get your limit, then begin to cull. At this point, you could “run & gun” to various other spots, hoping to find bigger fish. At least this way, with a live well full of fish, the pressure is off & you can concentrate on trying to find that big bite!

In summary, each decision you make during tournament day is considered to be a “big tournament decision”. Each decision can either make or break your weigh-in result. Hopefully, both partners will agree on the decisions & enjoy their day on the water. Anytime you can place yourself in the top 3 of a tournament, you have done well.

Good luck & good fishin’

PS: read part 2 here: Fishing Tournament Tactics and Strategies - Part 2

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