Recently I have been asked how I would prepare for tournaments including some of my decision making. I thought it would be a timely topic to expand on. Here are some tips I use for tournament preparation. For this first installment I will review how collecting data efficiently and accurately during your pre-fishing can help you along the road to success.
Document Your Efforts: Before you leave the dock be sure to have a means to record the conditions, information about the fish you caught (fish weight, fish numbers), depths, structure, cover, and more. It is important that this data be collected quickly and accurately. There are two ways to document your pre-fishing efforts.
The Hard Copy: The first option is to use Pen and Paper which works well and I always keep a pen and paper with me to not only keep catch records (conditions, size of fish, location) but also for making lists of ‘to do’ items like re-spooling reels, purchasing replacement baits, etc. From these spots I look at the pattern and this helps me organize my day and gear. For documenting my efforts I use Rite in Rain Notebooks. These are available in a variety of sizes and configurations. The Rite in Rain Fisherman’s Journal is a quick and easy way to document your catch
The Digital Copy: I have started using the database available at MyFishPattern.com. The free software at MFP allows anglers to not only track their catch data in a digital ‘real time’ format, it can actually suggest and help you create fishing patterns. With their iPhone and Android app your smart phone can become a fish data logging machine as you fish. These conditions can be simply updated as the day progresses as well. How does this system compare to old fashioned pen and paper? The data can be saved to your online account and the data can be just as easily retrieved when needed.
Reviewing the Information: Whether pad and paper or digital you need to review your pre-fishing data to determine how you did. Hopefully you have a few patterns at your disposal for the event. From these patterns you can sort out what patterns works best. Things to take into consideration include the conditions. It is important for anglers to determine the current conditions and how these conditions may change during competition day. A quick summary for of your pre-fish data can solve this.Using the MyFishPattern.com application on my iPhone I was able to quickly review a summary of Largemouth Bass caught during my pre-fish. I quickly observed that jig fishing was the dominant pattern. However, small swim baits also proved effective during the pre-fish as a secondary technique. Both important pieces of information. Below is an example of some fish data I added to my MFP.com app for this article. You can see how easy it is to review your catch data during ream time.
3) The Plan: You need to come up with a plan for tournament day. Using all of the above information you can easily develop a plan for your day. If I know that I need 18lbs to do well on a given lake I need to review my notes to see where I caught the fish needed to achieve this weight. From this list I will develop competition day plans. Also, accurate records of your catch data will also allow you to adjust your plan on competition day to deal with changing conditions, etc. I will use my pre-fishing data to make minor or major adjustments to my tournament day if needed. When your tournament day is not going as planned it may pay to readjust. Ready access to your notes may help salvage a poor day if you notes are readily available and organized. Taking five minutes to refocus could make all the difference.
In my second installment of this article I will review how I use my notes and digital tools to prepare my tackle for tournament day.