This may be either the most fun or the most grueling time of the year. Now is a time when endurance, planning and execution align. It’s also a time when you just cannot think of any more creative hashtags to explain your fishing. It’s tournament season.
During this time captains, owners, anglers, mates and technicians must ensure that they are on their A game 100 percent of the time. There is not room for error, a missed gaff, a slack line or even incorrect boat snacks – this is serious business. With thousands and sometimes millions of dollars on the line, tournament season can be filled with excitement, but also with stress. Not only is tournament season a marathon, it is a marathon that includes a series of high pressure sprints where you may have hoped there’d be a pit stop. There are a few hacks that may assist in survival.
1. Survival Skills: This is where planning and preparation come into play. Start planning for tournament season at least 3-6 months ahead of time. Think of things like boat maintenance, provisioning, necessary tackle, entry eligibility, passports for various locations, and fishing licenses. There is nothing that pisses off the boss more than finding out the night before the tournament that he doesn’t have the 130 spooled up.
2. Legalize: Take the boat for its 1,000-hour checkup, lube anything that squeaks, check the expiration dates on all licenses and certifications, do a safety check – CYA in case of accident or incident. You may not be able to guarantee that nothing will break, preventative maintenance goes a long way. Do these things before the tournaments kick into high gear.
3. Do your Research: Know how many bites you’ll typically need and prepare for the all of the possible fishing scenarios. Also know the regulations—is the bluefin tuna quota open? It’s best to know before you stroke one. If your operation enjoys the spotlight, research the tournament sponsors to see who’s who. A conversation or two on the dock is worth more than 150 e-mails.
4. Cash Money: Talk honestly with the boat owner about his anticipated budget for the season including entry fees, fuel, travel, day rates for extra help as necessary, provisions, new fishing tackle, boat maintenance, etc. You should know what your cut of winnings will be before the boat earns a tournament check.
5. Trophy Generation: You need to know – does the boss want to go out there and have a good time or does she want to WIN THE FREAKIN’ TOURNAMENT? If the expectation is to win, then your mindset may be a little different, your drink intake per evening may decrease and your focus will increase.
6. Have Fun: Is it hard work? Definitely. But the opportunity to fish competitively is the stuff that dreams are made of. It beats working in a cubicle 365-days out of the year. Besides, it will keep you in the most up to date sunglasses tan of the season.
Best of luck for a very happy, successful and lucrative tournament season!