Here are the major lessons I learned from these tournament experiences:
1. In a major professional catfish tournament the deck IS stacked against the average person. The tournaments are loaded with professional catfishing TEAMS. They travel all over the country from tournament to tournament. These guys know each other and are friends to a point. In some tournaments they may even have the same sponsors, so they work close together to keep their sponsors happy. Sometimes they are pre-fishing for days before you can even get there. Their boats are loaded with the best electronics possible to guide them anywhere they need. They also have the best fishing and navigation maps of the waters they will be fishing. Their boats have the faster motors, big bait tanks and live wells. Now days they use cell phones to pass information, such as where the fish are hitting.
2. These tournaments are 70 percent marketing functions for various companies, and 30 percent about fishing. The SPONSORS have products to sell, so they use tournaments as the way to get exposure for those products. They pay for THEIR teams to be fishing in these tournaments. They cover the entry fees and expenses for travel food and lodging for the event. The teams go out and do the pre-fishing to work out their fishing plans for the tournament.
3. Check out how many and value of the door prizes. That is really the BEST chance for the average person to take something home of value. Most tournaments pay out only to TOP 3 places and big fish. That is why door prizes are so IMPORTANT. The chance of YOUR number being called is the same as the PROS. Last week's tournament the number and value of the door prizes actually was of greater value than the payout for the top fishing spots.
4. Be sure you get to know your PARTNER before you go. I was flattered when I heard I was to partner up with a Professional catfishing guide. He is from South Carolina so I got his phone number. When I got hold of him the first time, he was out on the lake fishing with some friends. He had to hang up before I got to ask some questions for they had a big fish on one of the rods. The next time I called I asked about what all I needed to bring. He said just bring myself and some hooks and sinkers everything else was being provided. The boat, bait, and everything we needed was covered. He kept on saying just show up and we will be in the money for sure. A couple weeks later I called to find out where he was staying so we could stay at the same motel. That is when he said he was staying a friend's house that had the boat for us. I then asked about pre-fishing, his reply was “No need for that; I already have picked out the spot we will be fishing.”
5. Get together with you partner to at least look over a map of spots you intend to fish. When I did meet up with my partner I did ask again about WHERE we were going to fish. We were at the seminars and the room was filled with our competitors. Looking back on this I believe he did not want ANYONE else to know the spot. All I was told it was 20 miles from the starting point.
6. At least one of you should do a least 1 day of per fishing. Since I had NEVER been on that body of water I had no idea what it was like. I had based all my fishing ideas on 3 spots on the Detroit River. I even had downloaded photos and maps of the spots. Since my partner was so confident of his spot I reasoned he fished it. I expected him to know the water and how to get there. As I learned too late, he had not been on the water and had no feel for the layout of the area at all.
7. Be flexible, because way too many things can go wrong the day of the tournament that are out of your control. Weather, especially thunder, high water, a stronger current than expected, car trouble, boat trouble, etc. can really make for a challenging day.
I did not know I would have to get a ball for my hitch, as I had no idea I would be the one towing the boat. That brought up the problem of getting my old ball off when I got up there. I also believed I would be meeting my partner before the Seminars so we could talk over some things. We did not meet until the seminars were getting underway. Between the seminars I was running back and forth trying to get the new ball on my hitch. When we found out the we were not able to get the old ball off which meant I would have to get at 3:15 A.M. He was sure he had a wrench that would get it off o.k. That meant I needed to get directions to the house where the boat was stored. I lucked out on that for it was only 2miles from my motel.
That’s it for now. Part II will be in the November edition.
Submitted by: Norb Wormald
Author of KINDLE E-BOOKS, ROD BENDING CATFISH & Shop To Save