Younger I would watch the tournament pros and imagine myself on the various bodies of water surrounding me, standing on the podium hands full of bass proud like a peacock. It’s easy to let ourselves believe we can jump into the ring and box after merely throwing a few punches at the bag without knowing what it implies on the grand scheme of things.
For me, my first tournament experience came with my father at a multispecies tournament on the Ottawa River organized by Claude Auger. That tournament is seared in my mind forever to remind me that tournament fishing requires a good amount to stamina and endurance as I remember quite well that night being barely able to hold and open a can of pop. With time that stamina and endurance developed and I can push myself to more and one day of intense fishing action.
Many pros will not hide the fact that physical health is important to being able to perform at the highest of levels that competing on major tournaments requires. We need to understand that it translates to long hours standing, making high numbers of casts, hooksets and maintaining your balance in all kinds of conditions and weather without a single break. This kind of activity can cause a pretty good amount of stress on a body that is not ready and someone that never done such things. Those that never went down that path don’t understand the strain it can cause unless they experience it by going all in either a tournament or an intense day of bass fishing.
I remember quite well my first dip in the bass tournament world. It was on the Ottawa River as well and it was quite a learning experience. That tournament was for me an opportunity to learn and also push my limit and talent that I naively thought were higher. We always need to remember that as much as we may want, someone or something will remind us that there is a limit out that somewhere. That day was the purest form of reminder I could’ve imagined. Long story short, for my partner and boat captain and I, Murphy’s law that says that all and everything that can go wrong will go wrong…. Well yeah it applied mercilessly with our lack of experience as a team.
All that experience came really handy the day I decided to push further and further into the world of bass fishing and test my will power and capacity to understand rather than just learn took over. Thing to keep in mind, we learn each and every day in our lives until our last breath but all we learn is worth nothing if you don’t understand a single thing and can’t apply it. This is where I pushed my limits beyond what I thought I could and still push them to this day.
I can now say beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am capable of understanding what I learn about fishing, practice it but also learn and understand from that practice too. To me, that is the turning point where an angler at any level is heading down a path where he can make some leaps that were beyond imagination.
Tournaments for me are one of the best sources for an angler to not only cut its teeth but learn a ton in an environment that allows us to push our limits where it is not really an option. Furthermore, this universe that is almost surreal allows us to surround ourselves with a base of information that is endless: the others competing. Sure, some are not that easy to approach but most will gladly share some knowledge, tips and tricks on how to better perform. Let’s not be silly, no one will share waypoints or exact spots but most will share what to look for and how to work certain baits certain ways to make the most of your time.
You also need to know how to approach the other competitors and not become some kind of creep or paparazzi. Respect and integrity are two values that all anglers will agree are pretty high up on the list of what we value. Breaking one of these will more than likely result in a complete refusal to help you. But a simple, friendly and general approach will more often than not result in one helping you out. Understanding and being able to implement that help will be paramount afterwards. Another way to learn a ton is to be an observer on a boat for a tournament. Being able to observe and ask the right questions at the right time will help you better understand why X approach, on Y conditions, gave Z results. Having being able to experience such things on a few times helped be learn, understand and retain a ton of information that still translate in better results at each day on the water.
All this to tell you that yes tournaments may seem intimidating, which they are, but keep in mind that all those anglers live with the same passion and some to a point that is bordering insanity but it is mainly an incredible source of information and a powerful learning tool for you.
Until then, be safe and catch y’all later!
Bearded Bass Projekt