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Stay connected with your family when away fishing.

by: Andrew Smith

 The tournament season can take an angler away from home numerous days a year but you can make it better on yourself and your family.  I am Andrew Smith a bass tournament angler and tournament director in Wisconsin.  I drive over 10,000 miles and fish over 25 tournaments every year.  My tournaments take me to IL, MO, KY, TN, GA and FL.  I typically spend 6 days a week on the water during the season in Wisconsin.  When we have ice on the lakes in Wisconsin I travel south to continue fishing.  When not fishing I am a tournament director for 7 tournaments in Wisconsin.  I take about 3 months off a year from November through mid February in which I coach hockey.  During my 3 months of coaching hockey I plan next yearís tournament schedule, update websites, and contact sponsors.  How do I compete and prepare for the tournaments and still have time with my family during the tournament season? 

   The best way to be with my family is in person every day obviously.  My wife and I fish a 4 tournament team series together in Wisconsin on the weekends when my mom or brother babysits our kids.  Although she is not as passionate about fishing as I am she loves to take long naps on the back of the boat or work on her laptop while waiting for me to call for the net.  When I pre fish I try to bring one of my kids with me when the weather permits so we can share time together (pictures on left and right).  I have portable DVD players and other things we bring because 10 hours on the water can get a little long for a 4 year old to fish with a Scooby Doo pole.   With the kids I trailer up and move from launch to launch instead of drive by water.  When I travel south for tournaments my family often times comes with.  Many times we stay right on the water so I can leave my boat at a slip and my wife and kids can take the truck out and explore the town.  Leaving my boat in the water means my family does not need to get up early with me because I can walk to the boat and we can then meet for lunch on the water at one of the many restaurants most lakes have.  When my family travels with me we stay at Kentucky Dam Marina or Lake Barkley Lodge for Kentucky Lake, Goose Pond at Guntersville, Roland Martins on Okeechobee, or one of the many marinas on Lake of the Ozarks.  When I fish tournaments in Wisconsin and Illinois I rarely stay overnight so I am home every night with my family.  It can make for little sleep but itís worth it not to be gone for days at a time.

    Some occasions do call for me to travel alone because kids have school or my wife has meetings she needs to be home for.  When my family cannot come we resort to technology to stay in touch.  One way of course is by cell phone.  When I am out on the water I can text, call or email pictures and my wife does the same for me.  She keeps me updated on what is going on and I take pictures of the beautiful lakes I get to fish.  When back at the hotel at the end of the day we like to use Skype to communicate.  Skype is used with an internet connection and a camera on your laptop.  I can then see and talk to my family and they can do the same.  Skype is really the next best thing to being at home without being at home.  Most hotels have wireless internet now so using the technology is very simple and convenient.     

   The first year I was fishing was very difficult because I did not have things like Skype or a camera cell phone.  Now with these additions I can see and hear almost everything that happens at home and being away is much better than years past.  New for this season I have added the use of a wireless ear piece to connect to my cell phone so I can talk hands free and still fish. If you have a family that cannot attend try and use these things.  If you fish locally try to fish a team tournament with your wife and always try to take your kids whenever possible.