My planning for a season that starts in March of 2017 began in November 2016. I know that seems like a long time, but when your goal is to attend 16 physical tournaments and at least as many online tournaments, it takes a ton of planning. So where do you start? Follow along.
First, identify the tournaments you want to fish. The primary series that I will be fishing is the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) series. I will be competing in Trail events, Open events, as well as some of the regional Challenge events. I will also fish in the South Central division of the Kayak Bass Series (KBS) and the Show Me Kayak Fishing MO-YAK series. This requires membership in all of these organizations since I am interested in compiling Angler of the Year (AOY) points. Some of the events, such as the KBF Open, you can fish without a membership, but you will not be able to compile AOY points. You need to determine if this is important to you. All of these organizations have great websites, but visit them often, especially in the beginning of the season because events may be added. This is very important for planning your season because let’s face it; travel is an expensive part of this. Your plan’s may change if a tournament is added that is either closer to you, or on a body of water that you are more familiar with.
Now that you have your events planned out, I suggest color coding everything on a spreadsheet and also having a physical calendar as a quick reference. This will allow you to view your season in a logical manner. Remember to add in time if you plan to pre-fish and also allow for the Captain’s meeting. What is the Captain’s meeting? Glad you asked, because it is pretty important. This is a meeting of all of the participants, generally the evening before the event, to go over the rules, any out of bounds areas, safety aspects of the tournaments, and a chance to network with your fellow anglers. They are pretty much mandatory so make sure you plan your calendar accordingly.
You now know what, when, and where, so it is on to the legalities. You will need a fishing license for each state that you plan on competing in. If you are like me and plan on fishing in multiple states, this almost requires its own spreadsheet to track. Some states run their licenses based on the calendar year. Some start the clock on the day you purchase the license, and still others start the clock on another arbitrary date during the year. It is your responsibility to be legal. Do not make the mistake of assuming you are up to speed and have a conservation agent tell you otherwise during the middle of a tournament. At the very least, this is embarrassing. Of course there very likely will also be some legal implications as well and nobody likes those. Since I am in a kayak, and kayaks get wet, I like to laminate a copy of my license for each state and toss it in a hatch in a little organizer. I also keep another copy at my truck just in case something goes wrong and I need it.
Speaking of staying legal, keep in mind, there are a small number of states that require watercraft registration for kayaks. I know this because Illinois is one of those states and I have some events planned in the Land of Lincoln. You will be required to place a registration sticker on your kayak so make sure this is done ahead of time.
With preliminary planning all in order, the next step is to actually get ready for the tournaments. Stay tuned for my next installment, because this is a biggie. If you have made it this far, you are well ahead of the game, but there is still plenty of work to do.