Just over 18 months ago I stood up on stage during the ABT BREAM qualifier at Mallacoota and discussed with Chris Byrnes about a few things that I had learnt over the course of the weekend (and also over the past year) confidence in your own ability and your gear was something I focused on heavily.
At that stage it was the start of my second year of fishing the tournament scene and it’s fair to say that I had learnt a lot in such a short period of time. As someone who had come from outside the tournament scene I was always interested in what made the top guys stand out – I kept asking myself ‘what can those top guys be doing that is so different?’ And ‘why is it that the same guys are nearly always at the pointy end of the leader board?’.
I started under the illusion that these guys had something different, something unique, something that gave them the edge over everyone else that was beyond reach to the everyday angler. How wrong was I!
There will be a few names that immediately pop into your mind after reading the last paragraph, and why shouldn’t they? These guys I’m referring to have a reputation of catching their selected species on any waterway, all over the country, at any given time – consistency. They are meticulous in their preparation and don’t leave a thing to chance.
The common denominator here is confidence. It has been mentioned before and will forever continue to be, but having confidence in all aspects is the only way to successfully keep moving forward. Confidence is a broad term, and is easily adaptable to individual situations but to me, this is how it all pieces in together.
First of all you must be confident you have the right tools for the job, the right rods, reels, line and lures for both the area and target species. This is the first place you will come unstuck if you fail to prepare. Things such as re-spooling old lines, changing damaged hooks and having a rod/reel setup that is correctly matched to your target area and species are all basic starting points but are easily overlooked. Then comes the electronics, depth sounders play a large role in the way we fish these days and when used in combination with a GPS they are even more deadly. Your electronics will help put a large part of the underwater puzzle together, so all I can say is to buy the best you can afford, and more importantly to spend the time on the water setting it up and learning to read it properly. The last point is maintenance, nothing can ruin a day on the water quicker than a mechanical failure, have your gear regularly serviced to keep such problems clear of your mind.
A fresh and clear mind is the best way to enter a tournament situation, no pre conceived ideas and no negative thoughts. Your positive mindset will come from past experiences on the water, so build on these as often as possible. Pushing yourself to fish in different areas and to practice different techniques is also something that will give you an edge come tournament time.
Local knowledge is always best, but when travelling the country for competitions the fact is that not many of us, if any will have that luxury. So when heading to unfamiliar territory the next best option is research, reading local fishing reports on the internet, studying maps and reading past event reports. All of these put together can give you some very handy starting points and combined with local knowledge of your home waterway will start putting the pieces of the puzzle together faster than you realise if analysed thoroughly. The biggest thing here is being open adaptable to new ideas.
All in all, this is my perspective. Everyone has their own niche and that is the best way to be, to keep an open mind and fish to your strengths. Nothing good comes easy, so get out there, find your style and refine it as often as possible.