Maximize Your Chances on Tournament Day

Fishing just for fun out of a kayak and fishing a competitive tournament both offer rewarding experiences to an angler.

kayak fishing tournaments

As more kayak fishing clubs—like my Alabama Kayak Anglers—pop up across the US, and as organizations like Kayak Bass Fishing host major tournaments, kayak anglers can easily be drawn into the competitive scene.

More and more tournament events are being hosted from the local club level all the way to the national level.

Local kayak fishing clubs will have close to 100 anglers at some tournaments while others will only draw a few dozen. The most respected national tournaments will have over 200 anglers at their events. No matter the size of the event, the adrenaline rush of fishing competitively out of a kayak can be the same!

Tournament Day

Come tournament day, you’d better have a plan for success, because many anglers will have spent the previous days and weeks preparing for their day on the water. They’ve already practiced fishing the tournament waters and will have more information than most of the field.  

Information and probability are the two factors you need to consider on tournament day. You’ll only have a few hours for your shot to shine. Being efficient on the water and with your casts will maximize the chance of you hooking into fish that will help you get on the podium stand.

How to Know Where the Fish Are

Here are three ways to gain information and know where fish could be on tournament day:

1. Pre-fish the eligible body of water within the rules of the tournament. Most tournaments allow a sizeable window for anglers to get familiar with the tournament waters prior to the event. Even performing reconnaissance from the roadside while driving your vehicle from location to location can give you information that’ll help you on tournament day.   

2. Use fish finders and smartphones to mark schools of fish and fishy locations so during the tournament event you’ll already be familiar with areas that have held fish. Looking for places to fish on tournament day can be an incredible waste of time. You want to paddle with a purpose. Be strategic about where you launch your boat, spots you’ll fish first, and backup spots you’ll visit later in the day.

3. Be ready to move. Tournament day can be tiring, and having a good lightweight paddle makes a difference. (Bending Branches paddles are lightweight and designed to maximize your propulsion.) Some of the winningest anglers paddle their boat several miles on tournament day. Fishing multiple spots—especially spots that have different depths, cover, and structure—will help you develop a pattern for the day. That can be invaluable on days where the weather is affecting the fishing.

So go practice, mark your spots, and go to those spots on tournament day. If you fish this strategy often enough, you’ll maximize the probability of developing a pattern and catching fish.

One Final Note

Keep your head up if you’re having a tough day. Stick around long enough and you’ll hear stories of how the tournament was won in the last few casts of the day. That’s happened to me on a couple of occasions!