Creative ways to fish competitively

I love fishing tournaments, and I really get fired up when I get a chance to compete in a unique tournament format. It is exciting when formats are changed and anglers have to compete in unfamiliar conditions. B.A.S.S. has done a great job with the head-to-head competition of Toyota Trucks All-Star Week. It is a great concept and anglers and fans alike really enjoy it.

Last week, after the Toledo Bend Battle, I was invited to compete in a unique competition on Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas. I competed head to head against James Niggemeyer, Jared Lintner and Mike McClelland in several different challenges that tested many different skills. We were tested on our casting skills, ability to fish in a crowd and ability to find fish quickly.

The first round was a lot of fun because all of the competitions were head-to-head challenges. The casting competition featured a long distance challenge, flipping and pitching challenge, and mid-range target casting. As each one of us casted, the other three watched and tried to mess with the caster’s concentration.

The dam and marina challenge tested our skills at fishing in a crowd and catching fish in a short period of time. These challenges were great because they tested two important things that we deal with on a regular basis on the Elite Series. As we fished, we could see what our competitors were doing and could adjust our strategies based on the success of the other anglers.

On the three bait challenge, we went to a creek that none of us had seen before and had 10 minutes to drive around and take a look. After the 10 minutes was up, we had three minutes to choose only three baits to use for three hours of fishing. If we broke one, then we were down to two baits, which made our decisions a little tough. I picked 3 baits, and after I started fishing, I wish I would have picked a little different because the weather conditions changed throughout the competition.

The final round was a free for all challenge, where we could go anywhere on the lake that we wanted using any baits that we wanted, similar to most other tournaments. I can’t say who won, but I can say that we all had a great time and the results were extremely close. Mike, Jared, and James are all great guys, and I enjoyed getting to know them last week.

I would strongly encourage you to get creative when you plan your next fun fishing trip or small tournament. Instead of just going out to catch fish from the same places on the lake, create a unique format by limiting the number of baits used or the area of the lake open for fishing. Get another boat involved and go head to head. Growing up we had all kinds of tournaments like this, and I was fortunate to fish in a match-style event back in college. Have fun with it and I promise you will learn something. 

Remember to chase your dreams!

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