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There is a high number of tournmament fishing kayak anglers and that number is ever increasing. With that increase comes a need to find the competitive edge and it all seems to boil down to how much time you spend in your pre-tournament preparations.

I can break down my go-to formula for tournament prep into 2 main categories: Gear Prep & Tournament Day Planning.

First I will briefly discuss how I prep my gear. My kayak is how I get to where Im fishing and back so it has to be a priority. I always do a”boat check” to make sure I don’t have any rivets or bolts loose and I especially check out my Flex-Drive to make sure the coupling spider is good and that the upper unit still seats correctly onto the lower unit. I always take a paddle with me every time I fish although I haven’t even used it in the year I’ve had my Coosa FD.


I usually take 5 rods with me on the water and all of them need some love. The first thing I do is to remove any lures that might already be attached and then I cut my leaders off. I cannot chance losing a fish on tournament day because of a leader with a knick. All of my reels are spooled with braid that is what I check next. I like to pull out about 20yds or so because it allows me to assess the condition of the braid so I can make a decision on whether to keep the line or to
re-spool. Then it’s time to tie on new leaders. Remember to tie a long enough leader to allow for re-tying lures throughout the day as you adjust for current conditions on the water.

My lure choices for each rod are going to be like a mental game of chess. They will be chosen based on where I’m fishing, what I’m trying to catch and the conditions of the area I’m fishing using weather, time-of-year and salinity. Most tournaments I fish are for redfish, speckled trout and flounder so I will usually have a rod designated for each of those species and the other 2 of the 5 rods I carry will be for lures that catch multiple species like jigs.

The part I really enjoy Is figuring out where I’m going to launch and I base it on a myriad of variables. I factor in time-of-year, salinity, weather, wind direction, ease of getting to weigh-in and I use Navionics and Google Earth to familiarize myself with the areas I’m going to fish. I want to know where the ledges are without the need to constantly watch depth finder and Navionics.

As a weekend warrior I don’t get to pre-fish as much as some of the competition so I find as many fishing forums that will have up to date fishing reports so I know what areas might be currently producing and I like to go into the archives and check reports from years past that may give me a leg up onto a pattern that worked at the same time of year in previous years.

Another trick I learned is looking at Mapquest in addition to Google Earth. They are very different and sometimes I can see grassbeds on one that I can’t see on the other.

The bottom line for all of this is to be diligent by doing your homework and making sure that your equipment is as good as it can be so that it doesn’t cost you a win. The last piece of advice I will leave here is to make a tournament checklist and go over it when you are getting ready for the big day. I know too many anglers that have gotten to the launch only to realize they left something at home like their paddle, battery for the electronics or even a pedal drive.
Good luck on your next tournament. Also remember to let someone know your float plan. I hope this info will help you to be as prepared as you can be to get that leg up.

Tight lines!