How to Get Started in Fishing Tournaments

So you’re the best angler in your group. Are you ready to put your skills to the test in a competitive tournament?

Fishing tournaments can be extremely fun, and can even be profitable for the most elite anglers, but if you expect to have success, you need to do things right.

Take these tips into account and you’ll start competing in tournaments the right way.


You don’t have to travel 500 miles for your first fishing tournament, and you don’t have to come up with a $2,000 entry fee either. If you search your local area, you are sure to find quality tournaments that are waiting for local anglers just like you. The entry fees for small, localized tournaments are more affordable, letting you get started without a large investment.


Fishing clubs are a great place to meet with fellow anglers, learn different techniques, and stay informed on all the latest tournaments in your area. Joining a club will give you a team to compete with, which will help you hone your fishing skills.


A professional-amateur event, also known a “pro-am” allows you to team up with a skilled professional angler. You’ll ride in their boat and fish where they fish, competing as a teammate. This is an excellent opportunity to learn from the best, hone your skills, and focus on fishing without having to concern yourself with operating the boat.


If you want to be a competitive angler at every tournament you enter, you need to practice. Fish whenever you can, and as much as you can. Practicing your fishing skills will help bring consistent success on tournament day.


Before a tournament, you need to spend hours in research and preparation. Successful tournament anglers are obsessive about reading depth maps, talking with locals, learning about covered road ways, and finding the right corners, jetties, structures, and ledges. You should also fish a lake in advance of a tournament, with the goal of locating and marking structures and hot spots.


Doing the same thing that everyone else is doing will probably keep you out of last place, but it won’t give you a shot at victory. The most successful anglers are the ones who take risks and try different techniques. Go against the grain and try to find a lure, retrieve pattern, or depth that no other anglers have tried. The risk just might result in a first-place finish!


What’s the point in joining a fishing tournament if you don’t enjoy it? Don’t pull your hair out trying to catch the next fish, and don’t get too upset if you don’t take home a blue ribbon on your first day. Look around. You’re actually competing in a fishing tournament! You’ll need a competitive edge, but you’ll also need a healthy perspective.

Photo by Shaye Baker Courtesy of US Army Corps of Engineers

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