Fishing Tournament Tips

September 12th, 2011

Every angler dreams of participating in a fishing tournament, and it’s not as difficult to participate as one may think. Sometimes, the only requirement is to pay the entry fee and fish from the back seat of someone else’s boat.

Winning is different. That involves lots of skill, knowledge, practice and of course, just plain luck. If you’re interested in fishing a bass, crappie, striper or catfish tournament, the following tips could help put you on the leader board.

▪ Join a fishing club. Not only will you learn a lot about tournament fishing, but most clubs have scheduled events that allow you to hone your skills.

▪ Begin tournament fishing on a familiar body of water and partner with someone who has competition experience.

▪ Study and understand the tournament rules.

▪ If the tournament is out of town, reserve lodging with access to electrical connections to charge boat batteries. Also, consider a place in close proximity to the official tournament launch site.

▪ Assure that the boat, motor, trailer, electronics, rods, reels and tackle are in tip-top condition.

▪ If live or cut baits are permitted, catch or purchase before the tournament begins. Don’t wait until the last minute. Sometimes getting bait is harder than catching fish.

▪ Tournament day can be very tiring, so get plenty of rest the night before and eat a big breakfast.

▪ Arrive at the boat ramp early enough to allow ample time for launching.

▪ Have as many rods onboard as tournament rules allow, and have them rigged and ready to fish. Remember, it’s faster to switch from rod to rod than it is to tie and re-tie lures over and over again throughout the day.

▪ Use maps, charts, practice rounds and information from tackle shop owners, guides, media and local anglers to learn about the water you will be fishing.

▪ Pre-fish to find patterns that will produce a winning stringer on tournament day.

▪ Develop a primary and secondary tournament day game plan. Example: Fish shallow banks early, deep points at mid-day and boat docks the last two hours.

▪ Adjust to conditions, but remember that the fish you found during the practice rounds might still be in the same general area.

▪ Keep a cool demeanor, particularly if the bite is slow. Don’t fish faster than normal just because you’re fishing in a tournament.

▪ For conservation reasons, the majority of bass, catfish and striper tournaments require that the fish be brought to the weigh-in alive. Knowing this, proper fish handling techniques and the right live well equipment is necessary.

▪ Be on time for the weigh-in. Tardiness can result in disqualification or a loss of points.

▪ Fishermen tend to tell more about how and where they caught fish at the end of the tournament. Hang around and listen to what they are saying. You might hear some tidbits that will help you place higher the next time.

▪ Win, lose or draw!  Enjoy the tournament experience and learn from it!

Tips from Capt. Gus:
Just because the water temperature is cooling down, don’t overlook fishing for catfish. Channel, blues and flatheads will bite throughout the fall and winter months. The key is to use small baits and fish slowly.

Captain Gustafson is licensed by the US Coast Guard, a member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and a Professional Fishing Guide. You can reach Capt. Gus through his web site: or by calling 704-617-6812.

Even the Best Boat Trailers Will Have Problems If Neglected

September 12th, 2011

Few boat owners or anglers with fishing boats think about their boat trailers until something goes wrong. But this out-of-sight, out-of-mind attitude unfortunately leads to problems that a little planning and attention could have helped prevent.

Mike Pellerin, director of BoatUS Angler, which offers both on-the-water and on-the-road assistance to its members, says that even the best boat trailers, without regular maintenance, may develop problems due to the stresses caused by rough roads and owner neglect.

In 2007, the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch centers reported the top five reasons for boat trailer service calls and their frequency of occurrence:

• Flat tires (44%)
• Bearing problems (20%)
• Axle problems (14%)
• Suspension problems (9%)
• Tongue problems (5%)

Does this mean today’s boat trailers aren’t well made?

“Boat trailers are better than ever,” said Pellerin. “However, because they are constructed so well, boat owners tend to overlook things such as checking tires for wear and forgetting to grease wheel bearings. Driving over the unavoidable rough patches and potholes contributes to early trailer or tire failure.”

Many national roadside assistance clubs do a great job helping stranded motorists. But when it comes to boat trailer breakdowns, boaters need to know that their “auto” club may not be their best option because boat trailer assistance often isn’t included. When that happens, boats get left stranded on the side of the highway while their owners seek help.

Both BoatUS, through its Trailer Assist program, and Sea Tow, through its Trailer Care program, offer national roadside assistance designed to meet the specific needs of trailer boaters.

Slick Bottoms Save Fuel

September 12th, 2011

If you keep your boat in the water, especially in brackish or saltwater, for any length of time your boat’s bottom will have to be coated with antifouling paint to prevent barnacles, weeds and slime from growing on the running surface. Hull fouling reduces a boat’s performance and even a modest amount of marine growth can result in a significant increase in fuel consumption.

The oldest and least expensive bottom paints are called “hard” antifouling, which is something of a misnomer because they are actually the most porous. As the biocide in the paint slowly disperses the surface becomes pitted and rough, which creates drag. The low price might be attractive at first, but hard bottom paints will cost far more in fuel consumption and require more frequent recoating to maintain the level of fouling protection than higher quality paints.

Technological advances have lead to “controlled solubility copolymer” and “self polishing copolymer,” antifouling paints that are worth their weight in fuel saving performance. When properly applied, these paints dry to a harder, smoother, more slippery finish and that’s key to reducing drag. These paints allow the water passing over the surface to continuously polish the underside of the boat, slowly exposing fresh biocide while keeping the surface slippery. A few thin coats will protect the running surface for an entire season and, since the paint is self-polishing, it doesn’t have to be sanded down before recoating the following year. All it takes is a thin top coat over the existing paint and it’s ready for another season.

Ask a knowledgeable sales person at your local marine store which paint may be right for your area.

Click below for a list of
Piedmont Lakes bottom paint specialists
Cape Fear Coast bottom paint specialists.