Plenty of planning to prep for FLW Tour

With all of the cold weather that we’ve had over the past few weeks, I don’t think I could have picked a better week to get out of Northwestern Ontario and head south to Florida to get the 2018 FLW Tour started.
My good friend from Kenora, Jamie Bruce, jumped in with me this weekend to help with the big drive.
He is going to spend a few days fishing with me and then fly home at the end of the week while my tournament seasons starts next week at Lake Okeechobee in south Florida.
This marks my seventh year headed south to fish in these tournaments, and my usual routine is to go down a little bit early for several reasons. I have a new boat and motor so it’s nice to get a few days to run everything and break it in.
I also haven’t been fishing in a boat in a few months, so it’s nice to get a little warm-up and get back into the fishing zone again before the tournament week starts.
And, of course, it’s really nice to escape the cold weather at home a little bit early.
After a tough season south of the border last year, I’m ready to get back at it. These tournaments are my main source of income over the next six months and it has been a busy month of prep work to get on the road, but I feel like I’m all set to go.
There are seven tournaments on the schedule this year and the goal for me is to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup in Arkansas in August. There are 189 anglers competing and the top 35 qualify for the Cup, based on points we earn at each event during the season.
The entry fees are $4,500 per tournament so a total of $31,500 (U.S.) for the season. For me, sponsorship help is huge or I would not be able to compete.
Over the past couple of months, I also have been busy working out deals with my sponsors. Some have different requirements than others, ranging from taking VIP people fishing to spending time in retail locations to creating relevant content on my social media pages, amongst other things.
It is all part of my job.
This year I was fortunate to pick up a couple of new sponsors: Simms, a premium clothing company that makes very nice rain gear and outerwear, and Costa Del Mar sunglasses.
These are both great companies that make high-quality gear so I’m very excited at the opportunity.
There also is a lot of planning for travel since I leave my boat and truck in the U.S. and typically fly home between events. The planning process continues with lining up places to stay at each event.
I have three or four other anglers that I’ve become good friends with over the past few years that I usually stay with. We try to rent houses if we can for the weeks of the tournaments (it is cheaper than getting a hotel room and we are able to cook our own food rather than eat in restaurants all the time).
It’s also nice to have a few guys to hang out with and compare fishing notes with in the evenings.
After all that, it feels good now to finally be on the road.
The first day of fishing in Florida went okay for Jamie and me. We spent the first day fishing at the Harris Chain of Lakes, where my second tournament this year will take place later in February.
We only get three days to practice for these tournaments just before the events and prior to the three-day practice period, the lakes are off-limits to competitors for two weeks.
The temperatures are cool down in Florida as they are at home, which always makes the bass fishing tougher down here. But I did manage to catch one big one that weighed just over six-and-a-half pounds and we got a number of smaller ones.
More than anything it was just nice to get in the boat.
Look for my Lake Okeechobee pre-fishing report next week.