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3 Tips For Competition Fishing

Are you a gambler, or more of a safe player?
Sportfishing competitions are popping up all over the world and in this article I will walk you through my most valuable tips to help you on your way to the top!

1.    Pack the essentials

As I write this, I’m currently sitting on a plane looking out through the window. Acres and acres pass my view with high flooding rivers and mysterious big lakes.

-    I guess a lot of them contain big fish! 

A curiosity awakes and I wonder If there maybe is an ongoing sportfish competition down there? 

A bunch of happy fishermen, or frustrated who are struggling?  Maybe someone runs out of time? Or even some who are standing as the winning team of today with a trophy? 

Competitions for me are mind games full of passion. Screams of joy or harsh words of sadness.  Whether you are a beginner or a lifelong competitor, you will need to make good preparations before it all starts.

A walk through in your arsenal, cleaning your gear and retying those leaders. Sharpening your hooks or just organizing your lures in a certain way with everything in order. One of my best tips in terms of arranging your gear before even hitting the water is to make a list! 

-    Did I pack the net? 
-    That first aid kit should be essential.

You will feel much more prepared and more confident when you know that everything is in order.
Here are some quick ‘must-haves’ on my list: 

•    First aid kit
•    Waterproof bag containing an extra pair of socks and underwear
•    Toilet paper 
•    Some of your most crucial tools for minor mechanic issues in your boat (screwdrivers, ring keys etc.)
•    Life vest (checked and secured)
•    Duct tape, superglue 
•    Emergency phone 

These are some of the things that can prevent your competition from ending and make sure that you will be able to continue.

2.    Study your environment (if possible)

Knowing the area when entering a fishing competition is a big advantage.

What kind of water type should you expect? How do the surroundings look like? 

Are there grassy areas or flat hardened stony bottoms?

Some recon days out on a new water is absolutely something to consider. You will get a good overview of the area and hopefully get the opportunity to get in contact with the areas that hold fish. This can give you a good head-start to where the fish are currently standing. The next crucial tip, and something that might take your competition to the next level is to make a “logbook” of the weather. 

-    Do we know if the wind has been pushing into this bay all week? 

To be able to follow and research the winds and weather conditions can really help you locate for example the baitfish. This could make it easier to target those big predators.

To have a good knowledge of the wind can also be a deciding part of which way you will have to take in terms of safety out on the water. And the clothing of the day - no one wants to be sweaty or cold during a competition day. 

If you don’t have an extremely good amount of local knowledge about the area, I recommend you purchase an electronic chart to your sonar device (if you have one).

It will help to avoid hitting known shallow areas, and in a faster and better way give you an overview of your targeted area.

3.    Have the right gear and lures

To fish with confidence and a feeling that you believe in what you are doing is highly important. Your gear and choice of lures is a very personal thing.

In the end, many anglers are pointing in the same direction regarding what we expect from a lure and which movement is crucial for the day.  I will tell you what I use most of the time in my competitions regarding the Rapala brand and their lures.

At your first possible fishing area during the competition, you probably want to know as quickly as possible if there are any active fish. Here is where you should investigate the X-Rap® Peto or the X-Rap® SubWalk.

X-Rap® Peto is a great search bait, easy to just cast and retrieve and with the loudness from the rattle the fish won’t hesitate to strike. The aggressive paddle can be fished really fast, or quite slow and it will still maintain its movements. Unlike the X-Rap® SubWalk, where you have an amazing “walk the dog” action, you will be able to fish the shallow running version really close the surface. Side to side action is always a great choice and it will probably get you in contact with fish fast if they are nearby. 

My rod collection during a competition can be quite versatile - I’d rather have a couple of more rods prepared with my lure of choice, than switching lures. Maximize your potential to strike those winning fish of yours by matching the rods and reel combo to your baits. I’m currently using Shimano, and one of my competing favorite rods is the Sustain AX 72” 56-135 gram Casting.

-Man is this a feather light rod with a great backbone to it for nailing that fish! 

Together with a low-profile reel such as the Shimano Calcutta conquest or why not a Shimano Curado K for even more lightness into your combo, you will have it covered. I use this combo for lures such as the X-Rap® Peto and X-Rap® Otus, Super Shadow Rap® etc.

For the X-Rap® SubWalk I would actually go for either a shorter or a stiffer “jerking” rod like the Yasei Jerkbait 198H Casting. Or perhaps a spin fishing rod and reel as the Sustain AX 86" 45-135g Spinning. Then you will make extreme long casts and just “reel-jerk” it for an amazing action. 

Here are some smart tools to have in your boat during a competition. 

•    Rapala RCD pliers system
•    Weigh & Release Mat
•    RCD Roll Ruler
•    And the 25 kg RCD Digital Scale 

This will help you to register your fish in a quick and easy way.

Competition Day!

-The flag is waved! Go go go! 

Pushing the throttle handle to the bottom is a great feeling. You are in for a competition day and have probably by now set the mark on your first area. The final tip in this article is that you must pay attention to the water! 

-Listen to the water? Should you bring your headphones? 

To succeed during a high intense competition day, you need to see what is happens above and under the surface. In the end you will develop a “feeling” on whether the area will work or not. 

If the fish are not where you left them, maybe something has changed? If you are in an archipelago bay, maybe the clarity of the water has changed? 

Quickly seek the water types and watercolor in which you had that good fishing on your recon day. Pay attention if the bait and strikes come in a certain kind of grass areas. Very often you will stumble on the “right” kind of vegetations. Then, try to remember those areas and seek for similar spots. 

When entering a bay or a potential area you are supposed to fish in, someone might look for small baitfish in the water. It is not always that a sonar screen can register what your eyes can, even though sonars are a great help and tool. 

I would say that sticking to your original plan is highly important, but of course a quick decision can sometimes pay off and save the day. There have been many times when you wish everything will just work out and they don’t. Maybe a totally different tactics and a truly crazy plan sometimes can be your ace of spades!

Remember…

You don’t have to be pro to compete! I dare you to gather up some friends and come up with a funny team name. Check out your local competitions and just do it! 

You don’t have to have a big fancy boat with all the electrics. It will certainly come in the future if competitions are something you fancy!

Everyone has started somewhere, and one thing I often hear is the pressure to win! Honestly, I have been in competitions that I would rather forget about, and some that went to the top. 

If you never try, you will never know! 

I really hope you can take some tips from this article to take along as you go, and I wish you all a great time out on the waters! 

Cheers!