Guest Blog - Why you should enter a fishing tournament this year - By David Harrison
by: David Coulson 5/8/2012
The following was written by PikeD (David Harrison):
Iím not a professional fisherman by any means. I am in charge of managing the fishing half of a thousand member hunting and fishing club so I fish quite a bit, but there isnít any money in what I do. Dan Swanson (a real professional fisherman) was looking for a partner that had the skills to help learn the lake and the time required to fish a major tournament so we teamed up and entered the event.
We spent five days pre-fishing to learn the lake and the current conditions. My first project was to get a map of the lake and identify all of the potential patterns and areas to fish. We knew the walleye would be post-spawn and identified humps, channel drops, brushy areas, points, and timber as potential areas for walleye. I labeled 50 spots on my map and we spent the first day driving around checking out each of the areas. The next step was to catch fish on the best looking spots. In four days of fishing we caught keeper-sized fish on 12 different spots throughout the lake. The largest fish were 21 inches and came off of main lake points. We also caught three types of bass and multiple wiper.
The tournament days arrived and we had confidence that we could get some keeper-sized fish by fishing as many of the twelve spots as necessary each day. If you check the standings that didnít quite happen as our fish seemed to get shorter and shorter.
The number one thing that I learned from the experience was the lake. I had never been to Pueblo reservoir before this event and was pleasantly surprised. The weather was warmer than Denver so it makes a great place to get away in the spring and fall. The lake is a walleye factory with some anglers (Nathan Zelinsky) catching 62 fish in 120 minutes from a single spot (only five were 18.1Ē keepers). The scenery is gorgeous with limestone bluffs lining the lake and the Spanish Peaks in the distance. Plus, it is only 90 minutes from Littleton.
The second thing I learned is that tournaments require lots of lures and tackle. I immediately felt like I needed at least four of every bait in case it happened to be the hot lure. Dan and I went through his whole collection of three ounce bottom bouncers and we used all 25 of the 3/8-ounce jig heads I bought for the tournament. We used five dozen crawlers and nearly a full pint of four inch gulp minnows.
The third thing I learned was that fishermen lie. You couldnít help talking to the other contestants and you found yourself (and Iím sure them) slightly rearranging nearly every story. It was really funny to hear the conversations and play the game yourself. If you told everyone you caught lots of fish you were trying to intimidate them. If someone said they were having trouble you assumed they were hiding secrets. If they told you where they were fishing you knew one-hundred percent it was a lie.
The fourth thing I learned was how to pattern a lake. The effort to search out the fish over seven days of fishing was amazing and led to a complete knowledge of the reservoir. Add in the details from the other contestants and itís pretty obvious that there isnít much more to learn about how the lake was producing for that week. We caught fish from four to forty feet deep, from one end of the lake to the other, near brush, on structure, and in open water because we tried all of these different patterns. If I had been fishing for myself I would have found fish in one area and stayed on them until I felt like moving.
The fifth thing I learned was that the tournament forced you to pay attention. Missing a hook set in this tournament might cost you $8,000. A broken rod almost lost an angler $100,000 in the recent FLW college finals. Boat control, lure choice, knot tying (and retying) and decisions on the water all held more credence. Even if you relax the rest of the year a couple of days with complete focus makes you a better angler.
The sixth thing I learned was that when you get a strike and land a fish in a tournament the feeling is amazing. All of that hard work, all of the build-up and anticipation, and the dream of winning come out all at once as you reel in your fish. In this case the second strike of this tournament was pulling drag and fighting low. My mind stayed focused on fighting the fish while my body was shivering with uncontrollable emotion. I knew we had more than a keeper but on six pound test and a lightweight jigging rod it was a huge fight before I could confirm my hunch, with our luck though the big catch was an eight pound wiper and not a walleye. Each 17.9 inch fish after that was also a real thrill (until we measured it) and there were plenty of those.
The rumor is that the MWC is coming back next year. Until then the CWA and local bass clubs offer tournaments at local lakes throughout the year. Take the plunge and sign up. Pueblo has another tournament this month. Trinidad, Horsetooth, Chatfield, and many other lakes are slated for competition this year. Add-in the ice-fishing tournaments and at some point in the next twelve months you really should try competitive fishing.