By Tom Billings
Last year I received a call from an angler looking to start fishing tournaments. This is not out of the norm as my director duties often entails fielding such calls. However, this one was from an old high school friend who I had not talked to in several years. We used to fish together back in the day. Our fishing back then was pond hopping and some local small lakes. Since then I started to fish tournaments and bigger water; he pretty much stayed pond hopping and sneaking into lakes at night with a jitterbug. I gave him some of the basic information and told him that tournament fishing was different then fun fishing and suggested he should participant in a couple events before going full force. My buddy didn’t want any part of that and assured me he was ready to rock n roll and take money; I wished him well.
Soon after our initial conversation the status topic came up on social media (I will admit I threw the old black power worm out there) “On average are Tournament Anglers better than non-tournament anglers?” This started a hot debate between myself and several others who don’t fish tournaments (including my buddy previously mentioned). I tried to explain that fishing tournaments forces you to learn skills and techniques that fun fishing doesn’t.
It’s one thing to go to Wolf Lake on a Wednesday morning and catch bass but go to Wolf Lake on Saturday in a 15-boat tournament and put 5 in the boat, now that’s another thing. There are so many other variables that must be dealt with other then just catching fish. You may know there are fish on that deep weed line, but what if Linky gets a better starting number then you, and he also knows there’s fish on that weed line. What’s your next move? Do you have a backup plan? You better. This is an example of a skill most fun fishermen don’t have to deal with.
How many times has the following happened to you in a tournament; You struggle all day and put two Charlie Moore’s in the boat, but at the scale, almost everyone has a bag. What the hell was I doing wrong today? How many mornings have you woke up to go to a derby and you’re greeted to the clap of thunder? How many fun fishermen go back to bed? A lot, you know why? It’s not fun to stand in wind and rain, worrying about being struck by lightning. Fishing in all these different s ituation though force you to adapt and conquer skills and techniques that normally you wouldn’t. Going to a lake with 20 boats full of adrenalin pumped competitive fish heads, trying to take your money, really forces you to think outside of the box.
As you might be able to tell, I’m of the opinion that most tournament anglers are better at fishing then non tournament anglers. After a full season of tournament fishing I decided to once again ask my buddy who do you think are better anglers, tournament fishermen or non? Without a hesitation the answer was tournament anglers. It was interesting to me to watch him transform over the year also. I soon noticed that he was buying better equipment. I noticed that he was asking more questions. I noticed he was paying more attention at the weigh-in then before. In the end though he realized that tournament fishing is an addiction you love to hate.
He’s coming back this year too…ready to rock-n- roll and take money