If you love to fish and enjoy a little competition now and then, bass tournaments might be the next level for you. Finding a bass tournament to enter shouldn’t be too hard, either.

Just ask around at local bait shops, search the internet or look for flyers at boat ramps. Once you’re all signed up, what do you do next? How do you prepare? Here are prep tips to help get you ready for your first tourney. 

Dress for Success

Experienced anglers will tell you that if you’re miserable, you won’t be able to fish effectively. Without question, proper apparel is seen by many as the most important step in preparation for a bass tournament. Just because the forecast says it’s going to be clear doesn’t mean that a storm won’t blow in on game day or that it won’t be frigid during the early morning hours. Bring extra layers, reliable rain gear and a good hat. This also applies if the forecast is extremely warm, too; sunscreen, long sleeves and lightweight fabrics will help prevent sunburn and heat stroke.

Have a Game Plan

Ideally, you should try and get on the water a couple days before the tournament to see how the fish are biting, where they’re biting and what they’re biting on. This is called pre-fishing and it’s a huge step in tournament preparation. While pre-fishing, try to focus on patterns and types of structures, rather than specific spots. Then, use what you learn to develop a rough outline of how you want to tackle the day. It doesn’t need to be specific, but successful tournament anglers usually have a framework in place to help them throughout the day.

Prep Your Tackle, Too

On a weekend morning, it may be fine to use the same dull hook you’ve been using all summer or keep old kinked line on a reel, but those things can cost you dearly in a tournament, where a lost fish can mean a significant amount of money. Make sure your reels are oiled and have fresh line, make sure your moving baits have new or sharp hooks and make sure you’ve got everything organized so you can find it in a given moment. There’s nothing worse than spending five minutes looking around the bottom of your boat for a specific lure while all around you fish are biting. Bonus Tip: It pays to make sure you have extras of whatever your primary presentation or color pattern is.

Back-Up Plan is a Must

Plan A may be great, but what happens when you cruise to your planned starting spot only to find a local bluegill angler anchored right on it. Having a backup plan is essential to any successful tournament angler. Try and find two different patterns that you can catch fish on. That way, if one fails, you can just switch to the other quickly. Also—and this should be your norm, tournament or otherwise—keep a few rod/reel combos on-hand, rigged with different presentations.

Photo credit: Flickr CC