UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Ohio River

Getting started in tournament fishing: A primer

Terry Scroggins makes a pitch to a bass on bed.

How do I get started in tournament fishing? This is one of the questions most frequently asked of professional anglers. The wording may differ here and there - What tips do you have for a beginner who wants to enter tournaments? How do I become a pro? What advice do you have for a 26-year-old co-angler who fishes the BFLs? etc. - but the question endures, generation after generation. While there may not be a one-size-fits-all answer, there is a common thread that runs through the advice pros give time and time again: Fish local tournaments as an amateur or co-angler, learn as much as you can from your pro partners, and then work your way up the tournament ladder. ------------------------------------------ Editor's note: Countless articles have been published that provide much more detail about getting started in tournament fishing, including many at FLWOutdoors.com. We offer a few series - Co-angler Clinic , The Business of Fishing and Performance Psychology and Tournament Fishing - offering a whole host of informative pieces that provide greater depth on the amateur, business and mental side of fishing and that are as relevant today as when they were first published at FLWOutdoors.com. Survey the list of topics covered, select an article relevant to you, and click on the link. ------------------------------------------ Start locally and from the back of the boat Whether you're into bass fishing or walleye fishing, chances are you won't have to travel far to test the tournament waters. If a town exists near a body of water, residents will have nearby tournaments to Two All-American competitors make early casts on day two in a cove not far from the takeoff site on DeGray Lake.consider for a starting point. Some may be annual local events or club-sponsored tourneys while others may be hosted by regional or even national circuits that make stops in your neck of the woods. Enter a tournament that feels right for you, taking proximity, cost and timing into consideration, among other relevant factors. Conventional wisdom suggests you start off on the amateur side of competition (co-angler) or as a member of a team; either way, pick a tournament where you won't need to operate the boat so you can concentrate on learning from your more experienced partner. Learn before you leap Soak up all the information you can while fishing with a pro; it's a lot like hiring a guide for a day, but almost always cheaper, plus you learn what it feels like to fish under the pressure of a competitive environment. Talk to your pro or teammate before competition begins to find out what patterns he plans to use during the tournament. You won't be able to bring all of your tackle, so it's important to plan ahead. Vary your technique at least slightly from what your pro is doing; you'll increase your chances of catching fish behind your pro, and a different bait presentation increases the odds that one of you will hook into a winning pattern. Keep in mind that there are a number of issues that come up during tournament fishing that you won't necessarily know unless you do your homework. Issues such as fishing etiquette, including whether you should help pay for your pro's gasoline expenses, and what type of tackle to bring are things you'll definitely want to figure out before stepping on your pro's boat. Co-angler JR Wright shows off a keeper Observe how and where your pro is fishing, but just as importantly, ask yourself why he is making certain choices and changes in his approach (by all means, ask your pro directly if he's willing to talk about his processes). Anyone willing to fuel up his boat, haul it to a tournament location and pay good money to compete against other accomplished anglers has clearly learned about the sport over the years and is therefore likely a good source of information. As new a tournament angler, you will quickly become aware of the many mental aspects of the sport. While it is all well and good to be proficient with a baitcaster and make good decisions on tournament day about where to target fish (based on seasonal conditions, current weather forecasts, etc.), it's another thing to have the mental toughness necessary to carry you successfully through a three- or four-day event. As every pro will tell you, having confidence in your decision-making process and being able to make snap judgments in a matter of minutes is perhaps the most difficult part of tournament fishing. With hard work and a little luck, you'll eventually reach a point where you are ready to fish a tournament as the boater, or pro, who is the master of his own destiny during competition. But you may want to continue to fish as a co-angler in some tournaments as well, possibly in higher profile circuits, because there's always more to learn. Climbing the tournament ladder Once you've learned enough to know if you want to continue pursuing tournament fishing, you can branch out to fish a series of events within a region. Many clubs or other grass-roots circuits offer divisional competition in which a participant can sign up for a series, usually four or five tournaments in a year, offering the chance for advancement to a higher level of competition. The tournament big bag on day one goes to Drake Young of Lincoln, Mo., representing the 15-18 year olds as the TBF Youth Central Division Champion.  Consider The Bass Federation at the club level: bass clubs affiliate with TBF across the entire nation and offer local tournaments; members can fish multiple tournaments within a division and can qualify for regional competition; advancement to a national championship is the goal of many club anglers. The Walmart Bass Fishing League is a grass-roots circuit with a similar tournament hierarchy, offering affordable, close-to-home tournaments across 24 divisions and the chance for advancement to regionals, a championship and even tour-level fishing opportunities for the most successful participants. But whether you qualify for postseason competition or not, you will eventually want to commit to fishing all the tournaments in a division in a single season. This will test your ability to tournament fish in different settings and times of the year, giving you a good indication of whether you are ready to make the leap either to the front of the boat or to a higher level of competition. Also, another mistake that too many novice tournament anglers make is worrying about sponsorships far too early in their careers. Remember, if you become an accomplished angler on the water and have the requisite amount of social skills, sponsorships will become available to you in due time. In short, concentrate on learning the sport first. However, as your proficiency increases and tournament wins multiply, the art of obtaining sponsorships and managing the business end of fishing will start to become a reality. Take it from the pros Here are just a few direct exchanges between fishing fans and pros about how to get started in tournament fishing, all taken from FLWOutdoors.com's Reel Chat series: Q: Greg, do you have any advice for someone interested in becoming a professional bass angler? I just started fishing local club tournaments, but I wanted to know what I should do to take the next step. -- Eric Holmes (Los Angeles, Calif.) A: Actually, you've done the right thing. Personally, I believe in taking baby steps. I know a lot of good fishermen who got burned out because they made the jump to the next level too soon. I went through the BFLs, (EverStarts) and then the FLW Tour. That's how it was for me. I'm not saying that everyone has to take that exact route, but you need to have confidence to move on to the next levels. It's almost like you can be a star in a college sport, but then when you go to the pros, everybody is a star. You went from the big man on campus to a situation where everyone is a big man on campus. This sport isn't going away, so you don't ever have to be in too big of a hurry. But when you do get to that top level, I can promise you it is all that. -- Forrest Wood Cup winner Greg Hackney Q: What advice can he give a 26-year-old co-angler who fishes the BFLs? -- Matt Brawner (Carrollton, Ky.) A: Learn everything you can from your partner -- whether they are on fish or not. Try and soak up as much as you can: how they go about their day, what techniques they are using, just everything. I fished as a non-boater for years on the BFL, and I fished as a boater just this Saturday. I sucked it up as a matter of fact -- finished 60-something. Back to reality. -- FLW Tour winner Brandon McMillan Bryan Thrift takes home the mantel piece from Beaver Lake. Q: When did you know you were good enough to be a pro fisherman? When did you start fishing competitively? -- Teddy (Sacramento, Calif.) A: I started fishing competitively in 2001. And I don't know that I ever really thought I was ready or not. I went to work for a few years after college. I basically saved all that money, and when I had enough to cover my first year fishing, I decided I was ready. I fished three events in 2006 as a co-angler, and my first pro event was Lake Travis in 2007. -- FLW Tour Angler of the Year Bryan Thrift A wealth of information at FLWOutdoors.com ------------------------------------------ Editor's note: Countless articles have been published that provide much more detail about getting started in tournament fishing, including many at FLWOutdoors.com. We offer a few series - Co-angler Clinic , The Business of Fishing and Performance Psychology and Tournament Fishing - offering a whole host of informative pieces that provide greater depth on the amateur, business and mental side of fishing and that are as relevant today as when they were first published at FLWOutdoors.com. Survey the list of topics covered, select an article relevant to you, and click on the link. ------------------------------------------

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-09-02-top-10-photos-around-the-cup

Top 10 Photos Around the Cup

The Forrest Wood Cup didn’t just take place on the water at Lake Ouachita. Takeoff, weigh-in and the FLW Expo all offered great chances to see the pros in action or just be around fishing. The following are a collection of the best shots from four great days in Arkansas. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-28-planned-power-outage-in-ky-office

Planned Power Outage in KY Office

A planned power outage is in effect around the Benton, Ky., area causing phone lines and internet to be temporarily unavailable. It should last until roughly 5 p.m. CT. Do not call the help line or try to register online during this time. Instead, if you'd like to sign up for an event call the tournament director for the particluar tournament you'd like to fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-27-state-fish-art-contest-best-in-show-winner

State-Fish Art Contest Best in Show Winner

McKenna Litynski, 12, likes to draw, but she admits her older sister, Brenna, is the better artist and the one who teaches her most of what she knows. Both are pretty talented, though, especially considering they’ve each been state winners in previous years of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest presented by FLW. They both did so again in 2015, but McKenna did something this year that her older sister hasn’t: She won best in show. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-26-top-10-baits-from-the-forrest-wood-cup-

Top 10 Baits from the Forrest Wood Cup

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-25-2015-bass-bbq-festival-results

2015 Bass & BBQ Festival Results

The Bass and BBQ Festival presented by KSSN-FM took place in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. The two-day competition was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), which boasts more than 19,000 members worldwide and is the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-white-wins-tbf-junior-world-championship

White Wins TBF Junior World Championship

West Virginia’s Tyler White hit the mother lode of schooling bass to win the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship Aug. 21-22 on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. In doing so, he topped a hard-fishing field of 39 TBF junior state champions ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, and claimed a $2,500 scholarship to the school of his choice, plus a $250 Cabela’s gift card. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-huntsville-wheeler-lake-to-host-2016-forrest-wood-cup

Huntsville, Wheeler Lake to Host 2016 Forrest Wood Cup

FLW and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced Saturday that Huntsville, Ala., will be hosting the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, Aug. 4-7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. This event marks the first time that the Forrest Wood Cup has visited Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-young-leads-tbf-junior-world-championship

Young Leads TBF Junior World Championship

Kentucky’s Hunter Young worked the “ceiling” with a vengeance to sack a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces and claim the overall lead on day one of the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. The event is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. “My day went pretty well, even though I lost a few fish that cost me more weight than what I had,” he says. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-flw-sanctions-mexican-bass-tournaments

FLW Sanctions Mexican Bass Tournaments

This morning, FLW signed an agreement with LUTCOM SA DE CV, of Mexico City, Mexico, to bring its internationally sanctioned bass fishing tournaments to the United States’ southern neighbor as part of the International Division of the Rayovac FLW Series. The agreement was signed by Jaime Luengo, president and CEO of LUTCOM SA DE CV, and FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel during the FLW Morning Show before the day-two takeoff of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-13-british-bbq-star-heading-to-hot-springs

British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-11-weekend-wrap-up-aug-10-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – Aug. 10, 2015

The dog days of August are pretty well upon us now. Last weekend the BFL Illini and Northeast divisions were both in action, but that was it. Of course, there is still plenty to pay attention to as the Forrest Wood Cup gets closer by the minute. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-04-technical-issues-due-to-service-provider-outage

Technical Issues Due To Service Provider Outage

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »