As hard as it might be, always try to remain calm and pay attention. Many tournaments are both won and lost in the final seconds of the last day. The captain will most always have a better visual of the bite, and the crew needs to be kept abreast of what you see or feel as the angler. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to accept criticism, and try to learn something from each experience. Read the rules: Anglers must know what counts and what will disqualify a catch. Getting started with an experienced team is a good bet, because being observant is one of the best ways to learn.
Tournaments can be some of the most memorable times, and the highs from winning one cannot be put into words, especially for new participants. As an angler, you can easily lose focus on the fact that it’s supposed to be fun. My best advice is to have fun, stay positive and listen to your crew. A lot of times I see anglers get discouraged when they miss a fish, not realizing that this discouragement temporarily takes them out of the game for the next bite. By keeping a positive attitude and brushing off a missed fish, you’re sure to be ready for the next one.
Most anglers don’t take home the High Point Angler award without the help of an awesome team. You’re never too old or too good to ignore the advice of your captain and crew. The majority of top tournament teams spend many days practice-fishing together—at a tournament level. If you consistently practice-fish like you’re competing, you will feel much more comfortable when the pressure is really on. I like to tell my anglers: “If you want to win like a pro, you have to fish like a pro.” And competitive fishing involves a lot more than just catching what you see on those tournament days.
Being a good tournament angler isn’t just about being able to hook fish. Knowing what to do when the boat goes into a turn is just as important. Catching multiple fish in the same few circles can help your team quickly rack up the release points. Always pay attention to where your bait is while your teammate has a fish on, and then work with the mate to make the proper adjustments. Doing so will ensure you are in the best position to get another bite and help your crew get the couple of extra fish needed to come out on top.