Winning a major fishing tournament requires a lot of the right preparation. Fishing pros have special tactics while preparing for a big fishing tournament.
“A major mistake some fishermen make while preparing for a major fishing tournament, is not having all the needed lures, terminal tackle, or for that matter, enough baits for all of the pre-fishing days and more importantly, for every day of the fishing tournament,” Sam Heaton said. “You have to keep in mind that when fishing to win, you have to target big fish with the right lures or baits. Not having the right baits or lures on your fishing boat is a major mistake and one most fishing pros hope to avoid.”
Sam Heaton is field promotions manager for Johnson Outdoors with deep knowledge in both salt and freshwater fishing and also a member of the Fishing Hall of Fame.
“I can relate to one particular fishing trip to Mexico for trophy largemouth bass,” Sam Heaton said. “I had stocked up on all of the popular big bass lures including plastic worms, lizards and swim baits, along with all of the popular big bass topwater plugs. Unfortunately after traveling all the way from Florida to Mexico, the lake’s stock of big bass changed their feeding pattern from the shallows to deep-water structure. Now the big bass fishing pattern switched to deep water cranking with Stride King Citrus Shads. I had to pay $25.00 each for a select few plugs that the lodge had for sale!”
I can fully appreciate Sam Heaton’s dilemma. Like many avid tournament and recreational fishermen, I have on occasion found myself in the very same predicament.
During a past Gulf Coast, Fall kingfish tournament held out of the ever popular kingfish destination, John’s Pass, our fishing team had cast netted a livewell full of threadfin shad just north of John’s Pass. We ran some five miles offshore and began live bait trolling in the middle of the entire fleet of SKA tournament boats. A big king mackerel bite was now taking place and many of the kingfish boats had fishermen on the bow with deeply bent kingfish rods.
As soon as we had set out a traditional live bait trolling spread, we began hooking up to fast swimming king mackerel in the 10- to 15-pound schooling class. Nearby SKA tournament boats were having the same luck, except for a couple of boats that were slow trolling at the outside edge of the school of king mackerel and hard bottom structure.
My cell phone soon rang and the word was all of the larger kings were holding just off from the hard bottom and taking large menhaden instead of the smaller shad. Further information revealed that just a few miles north of John’s Pass a nice size school of menhaden was holding in close to the surf.
Knowing that a 15-pound mackerel was not going to land our Amelia Angler kingfish team in the money, we dumped all of our live baits out of the live bait well and headed towards the beach and that school of menhaden. One hour later, we once again arrived at the same offshore hard bottom, but this time with the right live baits to catch tournament grade king mackerel. Within fifteen minutes of slow trolling the outer edge of the live bottom we landed a 43-pound kingfish that landed our kingfish team first place “Daily” awards. The tale of this story is, if we knew first hand about that small school of menhaden on the beach, we might have finished first place overall!
While when you feel that you have obtained all the needed information to win a kingfish tournament, you really have just begun!
Jacksonville, Florida’s Dave Workman, Jr. is one of the more successful king mackerel fisherman and operates Strike Zone hunting and fishing store. Workman is also a three-time winner of the prestigious Southern Kingfish Association’s Angler of the Year award.
“Besides having your kingfish boat, motors, trailer and fishing gear ready to fish in a SKA tournament, my first objective is to locate “Kingfish Hot Spots” where our Strike Zone kingfish team has the best chance in landing a first place king mackerel,” Workman said. “I use on a regular basis Roffs satellite data system which gives me the latest information as far as where temperature breaks are found at some of the more popular kingfish structures. This valuable information helps me to avoid areas of the ocean that are more than likely unproductive king mackerel waters.”
Roffs fishing forecasting analysis is a combination of sea surface temperature, ocean frontal analysis, and a fishing map that includes a full-page text. The analysis is the result of several days of studying ocean conditions using a variety of space satellites, buoys and other data collection platforms. For information, visit http://www.roffs.com.
John McWhite also offers a ProChip that, when inserted into many of the newer GPS units, shows many of the deep water structures where many of the common offshore maps show only the near-shore fish structures. The ProChip is available for all deep waters from Virginia Beach to Fourchon, Louisiana. ProChips can be purchased by going on line to profindercharts.com or fishska.com. For the Nationals, if you pre-order the Chip by November 12, you get the chart free at the special price of $275 plus $10 shipping. Order yours today to ensure delivery before the Nationals. Call Loreen at 904/819-0360.
Dave Workman and many Southern Kingfish Association successful tournament teams have used with outstanding successes both Roff’s water temperature services and John McWhite’s ProChips when locating prime kingfish and eliminating unproductive fishing waters.
Roland Martin is one of the more successful bass tournament anglers and has used with great success fishing tactics that have earned him nine B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Awards. Much of Roland Martin’s time is spent on the telephone days and even months long before the first day of a B.A.S.S. tournament begins.
“Long before the official cutoff where bass fishermen are not allowed to receive any local knowledge, I am on the phone for hours with local bass fishermen that have a world of knowledge on the bass waters that I will be fishing,” Roland Martin said. “In many cases we will only have a few days of pre-fishing before the actual tournament begins, so this up front knowledge is a tremendous help in locating the more productive waters in a bass river or lake.”
One of Roland Martin’s last B.A.S.S. tournament that he had won was on Lake Champlain, that is located on the northern borders of Vermont and New York. One of Martin’s more productive hot spots was a small reef that had a nice grass bed on the top of the reef. Each day of the three day event Martin had fished the small reef for a brief period of time and landed at least one nice largemouth bass weighing between four and five pounds. During the final day of the event, Roland Martin needed one big bass to fill his five bass limit and once again visited the small deep-water reef. His first cast with an eight-inch plastic worm produced a 5.8-pound largemouth bass that eventually won Martin the bass tournament.
“There was no way that I could have located this small reef during those few days of practice,” Roland Martin explained. “So those many phone calls that I had made to local bass fishermen that actually fished Lake Champlain before the cutoff dates, really paid off!”
Roland Martin has used this same fishing tactic to become a successful redfish tournament team with redfish pro, Steven Loyd.
Certainly to become a successful tournament fisherman a lot of preparation should be made ahead of time to ensure that you and your fishing team members will have the best chance possible in winning the tournament.
Finally, Mobile, Alabama’s Marcus Kennedy has a wealth of knowledge on deep water red snapper structures. Instead of relying on the many Gulf Coast oil platforms, Kennedy runs away from the crowds of kingfish boats and catches tournament size king mackerel at deep-water red snapper ledges. Accumulating all of this knowledge and fishing hot spots didn’t come without a lot of preparation and hard work.
You will have to work harder than most fishermen to become consistent at winning fishing tournaments. While becoming successful in anything that you do does not come without hard work, winning a fishing tournament requires hard work to the max!