Successful tournament anglers know that poor preparation leads to disastrous results.
When you're properly prepared for the day ahead, you save time and become more efficient throughout the day — factors that translate into more casts.
Efficiency often starts with boat readiness. Do your storage compartments look like a child's playroom after a birthday bash? Then you're someone who needs to read on.
"It doesn't matter whether you're fishing a pro tournament, club tournament or just going out for a fun day on the water, there are little things you can do the night before to improve your on-the-water efficiency," says Mississippi Elite Pro Pete Ponds. "The small amount of time it takes to get the boat ready will save you considerably after you leave the ramp."
Rearrange your tackle:
Keep lightweight lures in the front and heavier soft plastics in the back. It improves boat performance when running long distances.
If you know the bulk of your fishing will be in shallow water, don't load up on gas. Unnecessary fuel adds weight that slows you down and affects how low the boat sits in the water. Less weight means you can maneuver over shallow water easier.
"I determine how much I expect to use and add 10 gallons, just to be safe," Ponds offers.
Prioritize your rods:
Ponds rigs his rods the night before. Rods rigged with lures he least expects to use go near the bottom of the rod locker with the rods he knows he's going to use placed near the top.
"You're going to have pre-tournament jitters the next morning," he explains. "You don't want to have to dig beneath other rods to find the one you need."
Store lure utility boxes in boat compartments based on applications. For example, keep your shallow running, mid-depth and deep running lures in separate boxes. Ditto for the various types of soft plastics you use.
Label boxes with a waterproof pen on the ends facing the top of the compartment so you can determine box contents without having to pull them out.
Large Ziploc bags are ideal for storing assorted brands of soft baits with similar applications. Mark on the outside as to the type of baits within.
Create a "day" box:
Place the lures you plan to use (and a few spares) in a utility box that is easily accessed from your primary tackle compartment.
If you know you'll be throwing green pumpkin 7-inch worms, keep a bag in the day box. If you're going to be shallow cranking, throw a few different models or colors in there for an easy change.
It gives you faster access to lure changes.
"Organize in the same fashion before each trip and everything becomes automatic," says Ponds. "You'll increase your chances of catching fish."