Tournament fishing is exhilarating. You can’t beat the sounds, smells, and general atmosphere of tournament morning. The anticipation of catching fish, beating the competition, and bringing home the hardware is what keeps us coming back to the competitive scene.
However, it isn’t all butterflies and rainbows, especially for younger anglers. Being a “wet behind the ears” tournament fisherman myself, I know first hand that although youthfulness has its advantages, it certainly has its drawbacks.
Experience is the largest hinderance and the root of all problems young tournament fishermen have. Most tournament circuits/organizations visit a general geographic region. Although they may not fish the same lakes year in and year out, the areas they visit usually do not change. This allows seasoned locals to cash a fair amount of tournament checks given their time and experience on these bodies of water.
Younger anglers, like my tournament partner and myself, don’t stand as good a statistical chance. We know it and so do the “old guys”. We have little experience on many bodies of water. The older guys have acquired knowledge of these fisheries and are able to adapt if there plan A, B and even C turn south. They know how fish react and where they go in these locations. They have spots they know produce fish. This kind of knowledge only comes from time on the water. The guys that have spots are hard to beat. They don’t aimlessly fish. They hit certain areas that have done well for them in the past.
Young anglers always seem to lack patience as well. I can say this because I’ve seen it happen time after time and am even guilty of it myself. Guys find spots in practice that hold fish and go back to it come tournament day. After not catching solid fish or even getting bit for 15 minutes or so, the team will conclude they are doing the wrong thing and scrap practice. They throw away all the valuable information they learned and start from scratch. Sometimes this is actually what must be done. However, more often than not, the fish are still there and they just need to slow down. Convince yourself there is fish down there and visualize it. This kind of patience also comes with experience.
Despite the disadvantages of youthfulness, the competition is addicting. It’s the reason we continue to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on entry fees, tackle, gas, and whatever else. All just for some little, green fish and to possibly cash a check that won’t come close to surmounting the amount we spend in pursuit of these creatures. It is for these reasons that it is so rewarding to place well, cash a check, or win. Because on that day on that body of water, we were the best.