5 Tips For The Beginner Tournament Kayak Angler

Kayak tournament fishing has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years so much so that even MLF Pros, Jordan Lee & Mike Iconelli are getting in on the action. 


It’s easy to see why. The costs to compete in a kayak tournament are vastly lower than a traditional boat tournament, and oftentimes the payouts are even better, at least at the local level. You can get away with a sub-$500 kayak and the fishing gear you already own. That, plus club and entry fees and you’re in. It’s this low barrier to entry that makes competitive kayak angling so appealing to anglers far and wide.


So, you’re new to the scene, have found a local club and have entered your first kayak fishing tournament. It’s weeks away and you’re already nervous about doing something wrong or making a fool out of yourself on the water. Not to worry, this article will provide you with some helpful tips to help you survive your entry into kayak tournament fishing. 


Tip 1: Read the rules

Fishing is one thing, but in tournaments understanding lines in, lines out, submission cut-off times and approved launch areas are among the many things you’ll need to educate yourself on for tourney day. 


If your club has a good director and has been around for a while, all this information should be readily available for you in a document or on their website. What you can’t find there, you should be able to hop onto your club’s Facebook page to ask follow up questions. 


Understanding the rules takes the stress out of not knowing if you’re doing something illegal which makes for a much better fishing experience. Read up!


Tip 2: Do your research & prepare a plan

Paddling to your favorite spot where you caught that giant that one time may work but be prepared to arrive there only to see one, two or three anglers fishing that hole. Depending on your body of water, the popular fishing spots will most likely be taken by other anglers on tournament day and without a plan B or C you could be in for a long day. 


Hop onto Google Earth and take a look at the lake you’re about to fish. Find the high percentage areas and plan your path and spots for tournament day. Put together alternate plans in case your initial plans fall flat due to the fish not cooperating, and if you have time, put together an alternate, alternate plan in case your plan B doesn’t work out. 


Making these decisions before tournament day will take the stress out of guessing where to fish when money is on the line. Despite all the research & planning also be prepared to make gut decisions on tournament day. You can plan for weeks but sometimes the lake will tell you what to do. When it does that, you should listen to it.  


Tip 3: Prepare your gear

There’s nothing worse than hitting the water only to find out you’ve left your favorite lure or that pack of plastics that caught you that PB that one time. 


After doing your research, pack your gear accordingly. Load up on the plastics you think you’ll be using most, and if you’ve given yourself enough time, go buy what you need. In addition to packing up your lures, don’t forget to setup your rods and reels with what you plan on tossing on tourney day. The last thing you want to do is spend precious time on the water tying leader knots and switching between terminal tackle.  


Tip 4: Don’t forget your measuring device

If you’re new to tournament fishing you’re probably also new to measuring your catches. Check with your club’s rules for the accepted measuring devices but you’ll probably have your bases covered with a Hawg Trough or Ketch board.


Tips on measuring and photographing your fish merits its own article but what I will say is have your camera phone ready before placing your fishin your bump board, and snap your photos as quickly and accurately as you can. 


Tip 5: Pre-fish if you can

One of the keys to success in tournament fishing in general is pre-fishing. This is when you get to test out all the research and planning you’ve done prior to tourney day, make adjustments and have a “final” game plan going into tournament day. 


Pre-fishing is partially about finding the fish, but oftentimes it’s more about eliminating water. Spend your pre-fishing time searching for your fishing spots and as temping as it may be, don’t burn your spot by over fishing it. Shake your fish if you can, but if you can’t hooking into 1 or two fish is as much action as you want. Save it for tournament day!


Kayak fishing is a blast, but if you have a competitive spirit and want to test your skills against other anglers, remember these tips and get signed up with your local kayak fishing club!


Author: Michael Trang

ACK Syndicate Team Member

Instagram: @socobassin

YouTube: youtube.com/socobassin 

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