Sound preparation is the key for a successful 2011 Southern Kingfish Association tournament season. Having onboard the proper kingfish gear, with a backup plan, promotes consistent kingfish success!
Good preparation and employing the proper fishing gear often beats out fishing skills when it comes time to announce the overall winner. You can be the best fisherman in the world, but if you don’t know where the fish are schooling plus have the wrong bait and fishing gear on board, then the team that is well prepared will beat you every time!
The excitement of upcoming fishing tournaments almost always promotes sound preparation. If you can’t get excited about competing in an SKA kingfish tournament, you may as well save your money and take up ping pong. What Jack Holmes and the entire Southern Kingfish Association team have instilled in all of its competitive kingfish teams is a never ending desire to compete. You don’t get up at 2:00 in the morning to secure live kingfish baits for your day of SKA competitive king fishing without the desire to compete.
A case in point took place during the 2009 SKA Championship held from Biloxi, Mississippi. Near freezing air temperatures and twenty to thirty mile-per-hour winds greeted the entire field of SKA teams on that first morning of competition. Twenty-three foot and under boats were running side by side with the big boys and reached their targeted fishing grounds some 70 miles offshore in a timely manner. The entire day they competed side by side with much larger SKA team boats.
Many SKA members have contributed their fishing knowledge to make boats, motors, fishing tackle and similar kingfish gear a better mouse trap for catching kingfish. Their contributions have come in part from their desire to compete and more importantly good sound preparation.
Jacksonville’s Dave Workman, Jr’s Strike Zone tackle store is a prime example of how Dave Workman has transferred his fishing success and knowledge right into a very successful business. Many of his fishing rods, reels, lures and similar fishing tackle carries his name and improvements.
The total opposite of Dave Workman Jr. is the angler that comes to the tournament scales without a smile, does not showcase his sponsors and doesn’t much care if they have their picture taken with their largest kingfish of the day.
A good start for the 2011 Southern Kingfish Association tournament season would include having a good digital camera on board.
“We became so excited after catching that record breaking king mackerel that we simply forgot to take a picture,” Brant McMullan said. “We knew that we had just boated the winning kingfish, it was late in the day, and all we could think about at the time was making that long rough ride back to the SKA tournament scales in time to weigh in that monster king mackerel.”
Ironically, the 2009 SKA Champions, Ocean Isles Fishing Center, typically take excellent photos that have appeared in past issues of the Angler magazine. How good would it be to have an action photo of the McMullan’s 74.10-pound monster king mackerel coming into the boat with glistening silvery green colors!
Many phone cameras look like they are taking great photos, but the resolution just isn’t good enough. Once the photo is e-mailed and blown up, the seemingly sharp photo becomes distinctively blurry and lacking resolution.
Financing your team for the upcoming tournament season is also a critical portion of your team’s preparation. Make sure that each of your members commit for the events that they plan to fish and have backup members that will be able to fill in if necessary. Have an agreement up front with your team as to how the expenses and winnings will be shared.
One of the ugliest arguments that I have witnessed took place at a fishing tournament when one member had paid for the Calcutta and did not wish to share the monies with his team members!
Team member training is also a critical portion of putting together a winning SKA kingfish team. Kingfish teams are much like any other pro sport team where certain players are simply better at certain positions. Kingfish teams also have players that have certain positions on their team. Positions include navigating the kingfish boat, fighting kingfish, chumming, rigging kingfish leaders, and setting out a successful kingfish spread of lures and baits.
Here, the success story evolves as each team member is a player and has his position on the kingfish team. He or she concentrates on their duties and as the seasons come and go, they simply get better at their position as a team player.
Sponsors are hard to come by considering the recent downturn in the economy. However, there are still companies out there that are willing to sponsor fishing teams in order to increase their sales. Now is the time to approach sponsors that may help your team either financially or with products.
The best type of sponsorship comes with boat, or motor manufacturer sponsorships. Work with your local boat dealer who will be able to communicate with the manufacturer for discounted products. Manufacturers are more likely to listen to boat dealers as to how your SKA kingfish team will help them sell their products, verses your team calling the manufacturer direct. Simply said, sponsors are looking forward to selling products to their dealers and anything that they can do to help the dealers is critical to their sales.
Sponsorship opportunities often pop up at the wink of an eye, so fishermen should be ready to reply with a sound sponsorship plan.
“I was enjoying a late evening meal and drink at one of the more popular area restaurants when the owner of the restaurant became interested in our fishing team,” Darrel Carter explained. “The owner said that they would like to do more for the community as far as promoting fishing tournaments and similar activities that help our customers and community too.”
“I explained that our fishing team would be more than happy to showcase their restaurant’s logo on the side of our tournament fishing boat. The next thing I knew the owner had paid our entry fee and expenses and we had won the tournament!”
Darrel Carter apparently had the right answers for his potential sponsor that encouraged the restaurant owner to sponsor their fishing team.
A good idea is to carry a sponsor packet along wherever you go and be prepared to hand it over to a prospective sponsor when the occasion arises. Receiving a resume three weeks after you have encountered a lucrative conversation with a likely sponsor just doesn’t work.
Properly equipping your kingfish boat for the upcoming SKA season weeks before the tournament season is also critical to your kingfish team’s success. For example, many bait and tackle shops often run out of key kingfish equipment during the week prior to a kingfish event. I once was in a well known tackle shop when a fisherman pleaded with the salesman for a five-pound downrigger weight. Downrigger weights are very popular items and unfortunately frequently lost when weights become tangled on the bottom. Even the best stocked tackle store is subject to run out of certain size downrigger weights.
With this in mind, be sure and stock up with all of the gear you will need several weeks before the kingfish tournament season begins. Key kingfish equipment includes downrigger weights and releases, extra kingfish rods and reels, plenty of spare fishing line of all sizes, shock leaders, wire leaders, kingfish hooks, swivels, lures, chum, charts, chum bags and a full stock of frozen dead kingfish baits in your freezer. [Ed. note: Some of these supplies are available at the SKA trailer at the tournament site.]
Also check and make sure that all of your boat’s electrical connections are secure and free of any corrosion. If you have stored your boat for the winter, be sure and turn on your electronics and makes sure they all work as it will take a few weeks to have them repaired. Also make sure that your boat trailer lights, brakes, wheel bearings, and tires are all in good working condition. Fully charge your batteries, check the water levels and make sure they hold a full charge.
Finally, the most important factor in gearing up for the 2011 SKA kingfish season is researching targeted kingfish waters several weeks before tournament dates. Work with area tackle stores, key local fishermen and area charts in putting together a good game plan on where your kingfish team will more than likely have the best chance in catching a big money winning king mackerel. During the tournament changing water temperatures and water clarity are always critical to your team’s success. This is where a good working relationship with fellow SKA team boats can turn a fishless day into a fun and prosperous day of SKA tournament king fishing.
Becoming a consistent Southern Kingfish Association winning team doesn’t happen without good preparation!
Angler magazine, February 2011
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