Tournament preparation is always a panic. It shouldn’t be, most dates are usually given well in advance.
I always start with a list of the most important things, such as getting time off work, booking flights or ferries and accommodation, then I add to it as more things come to mind.
Always try and get hold of a barometric chart of the area to be fished, this is important even if you don’t know the boundaries as you can guess the area from previous years’ competitions. Navionics have a brilliant free web app which covers a growing number of freshwater and all saltwater areas in the UK and Europe, perfect for the job.
Looking at a chart gives you an idea of what lures you are going to need. I fish a lot of lure comps on freshwater and have a crazy amount of lures, selecting the correct running depths helps to cut down on what you carry. Colours can be important, but confidence in a lure and certain colours is more important. Every year this changes. I catch a few fish on a lure and that becomes my go to lure, everything else becomes a back-up. I carry at least five boxes of backups!
I never check the weather, if the comp goes ahead I will be fishing, the weather is something you can do nothing about. Weather changes, wind direction changes, not worth worrying about until the day of the competition … on comp day it’s time to take note, know what is likely to happen throughout the day, if lightning or winds are going to go crazy make sure you are near safety when they are forecast to hit.
Paddle gear. I take tons of stuff. Usually a Bora dry suit, and a pair of paddle pants for each day, two or three pairs of boots, a Bora cag and Atom cag, Kaikoura PFD, base layers, a first layer for each day. Tournament shirts for warm weather and prize giving. Hot or cold, wet or windy I have something to wear that will keep me protected. Sponsors caps and sunglasses, two pairs, reading glasses, two pairs … I have lost glasses overboard, always worth carrying a spare. It’s important to be comfortable, warm and dry on the water, you can be out there for up to eight hours so be prepared.
Next time: What fishing tackle to pack