Practicing, being physically fit, and having a healthy diet are essential to perform to the best of your ability and to be at the top of your game. Most serious tournament anglers put in plenty of practice and spend lots of time on the water learning new techniques, but forget about their health. Crackers, chips, and cookies are what most fisherman live on. Don’t even mention running or lifting weights; that will get you laughed at. Don’t get me wrong, practice is the most important; but exercising, conditioning, and eating healthy are very important, too.
You have to be fully focused when fishing bass tournaments and the last thing you want to be thinking about is pain and feeling fatigued. I typically run 3 miles and for me, that is the best distance to get in a good cardio workout without killing too much time. 30 minutes is all I need to run 3 miles and to stretch afterwards. If you are new to running, be sure to allow several weeks to work your way up to 3 miles. Don’t overdo it at first; it’s all fun and games until someone pulls a hamstring!
Over the past year I have been running three to four times a week and I have noticed a significant difference compared to my rookie season. My first year I didn’t exercise that much and after the second or third day of an event I would start feeling tired and sore. Fishing twelve to fourteen hours per day takes its toll on the body unless you are in shape. Not to mention, sometimes we will fish for 3 weeks straight.
Casting thousands of times per week and holding a rod in a particular position for an extended time greatly strains your neck, shoulder, arm, and back muscles. I have heard that the most common injuries among pro anglers are shoulder and elbow issues like rotator cuff tears and tennis elbow. The best way to lessen the impact that fishing has on the body is to do strengthening exercises for those particular muscle groups.
This past year, I struggled a lot with neck and shoulder pain and I have found that lifting weights and working out with a foam roller on a regular basis has really helped. I lift weights about 3 times per week and center my workouts on low weight and high reps. The lighter weights will still strengthen my muscles without the worries of injuries from heavy weights. Dumbbell shoulder presses, front lifts, shoulder shrugs, and push-ups are a few of my favorites and are easy to do on the road in a motel room.
I discussed conditioning with my roommate Kevin Hawk throughout the season, and he is a firm believer in foam roller therapy. It looks kind of silly and it’s kind of hard to explain, but it works. Basically it’s a foam tube that is 6” – 10” in diameter and anywhere from 18” to 36” in length that is used for muscle therapy. Foam roller exercises release tension and loosens stiff muscles, similar to a massage. It also strengthens and increases flexibility. I have had one most of the year, and it is great for loosening your back and legs after a long day on the lake.
I have no idea how some guys can fish an entire day without eating, and then gorge themselves at dinner. That cannot be healthy. I pride myself on a healthy diet, but that hasn’t always been the case. During my first few years of college, I didn’t eat healthy and remember feeling tired and having an upset stomach a lot. My diet largely consisted of food that was high in fat, starch, and sugar. After a couple of years of not feeling good, I knew I needed to make a change. I started trying different foods, and I found that a high protein diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables gave me more energy and made me feel better. I could tell you the health benefits from each food, but I’m pretty sure we have all heard that way too many times. Instead, I will just walk you through the foods that I eat in a typical day when I am fishing a tournament.
Breakfast (5:00 – 6:00 am) = 3 scrambled eggs, yogurt with almonds, banana, milk
Lunch (10:00 am – 11:00 pm) = turkey and wheat sandwich, apple, mixed nuts, water
Snack (2:00pm – 3:00pm) = cliff bar, raisins, almonds, orange, water
Dinner (6:00pm – 7:00pm) = grilled chicken, steamed mixed vegetables, black beans, water
Snack (9:00pm – 10:00pm) = peanut butter and banana, milk
I eat at least five times a day to keep my metabolism and energy high. It is important to not overeat at one meal, but to spread your food out in smaller portions multiple times a day.
I hope that these tips will help you maintain a high energy level and avoid injuries while putting more bass in your boat. Now is a good time to start these healthy habits that will pay off next tournament season……..well maybe after one last unhealthy meal. Happy Thanksgiving!