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Beyond the tackle box:  Tournament preparation
By Glenn Walker


When an angler is getting ready the night before a tournament, they are making sure they have fresh line on their reels, their hooks are sharp and everything is tied on their rods.  But an aspect of tournament preparation that is sometimes left by the weigh side is mentally preparing yourself.  I am talking about establishing a plan for the next tournament day.

Recently my partner and I were fishing a local team tournament on the Mississippi River .  The fish we had found in practice were up one pool, so we were going to begin our day by locking up.  Because of how the fishing can change drastically in one night and from what I was able to analyze after our practice I knew that if the bite was on we would be able to bring in a nice sack, but if the bite was slow, it would make for a tough day.

So my partner and I both agreed on that by noon if we didnít have a limit that we were going to lock back down to finish out our limit, which would help us gain valuable points for the standings.  If we did have our limit, we were going to stay on the upper pool until we had to lock back down so we would be able to check in on time.

Tournament day came and the bite was tougher than practice and after fishing hard all morning, by noon we had only two keepers in the box.  So as we had planned, we locked back down at noon and were fishing again by 12:30, this left us with 2.5 hours till check in.  In those 2.5 hours, we were able to hit some areas that had fish on them previously in practice and eventually we got four fish to fill out our limit which weighed 13.91 lb.

The plan we had set the night before had paid off for us.  By having a plan and establishing a time frame, we were able to effectively devote time to certain areas that we wanted to fish.  The two goals I had when establishing this plan was that, a) getting our limit was of vital importance and b) I wanted to stay on the upper pool as long as we could.

So when creating your own tournament plan, you first must establish your goals for that specific tournament.  These goals will change based on the tournament, condition, and if there are points that are of importance to you. 

The next area that needs to be taken into consideration is you must be realistic with your plan.  I knew that I needed to set aside 2-3 hours to lock back down and get a limit.  It wouldíve been unrealistic for me to say I can have a limit in an hour and lock down in a half an hour.

Once you have created a plan, you must stick to it.  As the time was approaching noon in the tournament, I told my partner that if we didnít produce at this next spot we were locking back down.  This was extremely important because it got us down to the lock and back down a pool in the appropriate time frame.

If you do not stick to your plan, then you will feel rushed when the time comes to leave an area, lock, etc.  Trying to remain calm is of vital importance during a tournament, because if you are rushed or distracted with details, then your fishing abilities will suffer.

Plans are present in our everyday lives, they are used to build houses, in sports, so why not make them part of your list when preparing for a tournament.