Preparation key to fishing success

As spring turns into summer, fishing tournaments start happening and go on just about every weekend somewhere across this region.
I live for fishing tournaments and though I prefer bass the most, I enjoy getting after walleyes, as well.
I love the competition, the camaraderie, and spending long days on the water leading up to these events in order to figure out where the fish are and what they will bite.
I read a quote once that said, “Good plans make good results.” I’ve always remembered it and think about it when I prepare my boat and equipment in the days leading up to each of the fishing tournaments I fish over the course of the summer.
Whether you fish tournaments or not, there are things you can do to prepare your equipment which will improve your chances of being able to catch more fish on every outing.
Let’s start with the boat first. At all events, we go through a boat check each morning, when tournament officials inspect our boats to make sure our livewells are functioning (and there are no fish in it) and to see that we have all the necessary safety equipment so we comply with all boating regulations.
I always make sure the livewell pumps are working and that they sound good.
The bilge pump is important, too. We sometimes are faced with rough water conditions and you can get into trouble quickly if your bilge pump isn’t working properly.
Once the boat is filled with gas, I make sure I have it filled up with oil, too. This isn’t necessary if you are running a four-stroke motor, although you should check your oil levels periodically throughout the season.
Then I move onto the batteries. Make sure they’re plugged in and monitor them to make sure everything is charging up okay. If you have any weak batteries, you need to replace them.
I never have to worry about running out of power with my 36-volt trolling motor if my batteries are all in good shape and fully charged.
Finally, I like to give the boat a quick cleaning. Not only does this help to keep the boat looking good, it also reveals any possible issues. I’ll find loose screws or loose wires, and I always make sure to get rid of any garbage in the boat.
By constantly staying on top of these things, I never have anything loose on my boat that could come apart or break on tournament day when I’m running my boat hard.
Once the boat is ready to go, I start on my rods and tackle. We always tie lures on all of our rods the night before the tournament so they are ready to go in the morning when we start fishing.
I put new line on most of my reels, especially if I know I’m going to use some of them a lot. On days when we have a good pattern or program figured out, I may only use one or two rods all day.
In cases like this, I’ll re-line my reels after each day of competition. There are many variables we are faced with during our time on the water—and one of the few we can control is our equipment.
I also like to change out the hooks on many of my crankbaits if they are used or maybe not exactly what I want. My favourite replacement hooks are Gamakatsu EWG treble hooks, which are extremely sharp and hold an angle that fish really have a hard time throwing.
I then load all my rods and tackle into the boat. I’m careful to keep the rods I’m going to use first in the top of the rod locker, and the tackle boxes I’m expecting to need to access near the top. When the tournament starts, I want to make sure I spend every second I can with my lure in the water.
Other things I make sure are in the boat the night before any tournament begins are some extra sunglasses, an extra hat, and a change of clothes. I also make sure there is a net in the boat, a measuring device, a scale, and a small bag to put the fish in when I weigh them.
One of the most important items all boats should have is a small toolbox with a dry seal around it. I keep the paperwork for my boat in it, as well as an assortment of tools I need to fix minor problems, along with some electrical tape, some zip-ties, and batteries.
Being prepared goes a long way on the road to success.
The Sunset Country tournament season begins this weekend with the Shaw Dryden Walleye Masters tournament taking place Saturday and Sunday on Wabigoon Lake. Troy Norman and I are partnering up for our first tournament together and we’re looking to find some big walleyes.
Look for my report next week.

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