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21 Aug 2023

A guide to fishing your first competition in a kayak

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After competing on Hobie Bream tournaments for over five years, through trial and error I’ve finessed my process for preparing to compete. There can be a lot to it and preparing for your first outing can easily become overwhelming, so I’m sharing my tips for a smooth run in. It’s essential to have all your gear in order, and leaving everything to the last minute can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, I’ve put together and week by week checklist to help get you on the water. 

6-8weeks prior: 

  • Ensure you have your entry in and paid for (check closure dates) 
  • Book accommodation and ensure it has parking availability for your boat or kayak trailer and isn’t too far (within 15mins) of the launch site/start. 

4 weeks prior: 

  • Make sure the car is not going to let you down – if you haven’t already done so, perhaps get it serviced to make sure it will get you to the venue and back. (I’ve driven 4000km to Qld and back and my car didn’t miss a beat – you need that reliability straight up). 
  • Check your fishing rods and reels. 
  • Have you got enough? (4 rods and reels is generally a good number) 
  • How much braid is on the reels and do you need to respool reels? (I like fresh braid to ensure there is enough to last the entire competition). 
  • Order new lures, plastics, braid, leader, scissors, scent, trebles, jigheads as necessary (there is nothing worse than not having enough of your favourite plastics or hardbodies).
  • Check batteries you need to use on your kayak ie: Livewell battery, Sounder battery and Powerpole battery – make sure chargers are working also.  
  • Check livewells – make sure they are all functional.  
  • Check Powerpole will go up and down and there isn’t any debris stuck in the shaft.
  • Check your sounder – make sure software is up to date.
  • If possible, have your kayak drive checked by a Hobie dealer to ensure it is working smoothly and won’t let you down on comp days.
  • Check maps of the area you are going to fish. Use Google Earth, local maps and Maps on your phone to find spots suited to your style of fishing. Print some out and familiarise yourself with how far they are from the launch site.
  • Be aware of ‘no go zones’ – these should be listed on your entry form information. Make sure you are familiar with them as you don’t want to be DQ’d as a result of fishing in a ‘no go zone’.
  • Make sure you know where the launch site is. Punch it into your smartphone so you can arrive nice and early on comp days.

2 weeks prior: 

  • Go through clothing you are taking to wear whilst on the water. Always take a spare hat, buff and sunscreen. (It’s better to be a little hot than sunburnt or freezing cold).  
  • Make sure you have your wet weather jacket and pants handy – weather is unpredictable and it’s easier to be well prepared in advance. If need be, waterproof them to ensure you stay warm and dry. 
  • Check your Polarised sunglasses. I like to have a spare pair just in case.  
  • Plan your other clothing items – I generally make a list of things I’m taking. My list starts with ‘kayak items’ then moves to ‘camping items’ (if I’m camping), then to ‘fishing items’ – rods and reels, lures etc, then to my clothing on and off the water and finally to food I may need to take.  
  • Keep checking this list and revising it as you think of other things you need to take. 
  • If, like me, you camp at events, make sure the tent/swag etc is handy and that you have plenty of warm bedding, lighting, eskies, chairs etc. Detail everything on your main list and regularly go through it to ensure nothing is forgotten. 

1 week prior: 

  • If you have time, take the kayak out locally and set it up as you will be for the competition. Take note of how long it takes to put it all together, as that will assist on comp days in making sure you have enough time to arrive and set up before briefing and on to the water for the start. Time is of the essence at comps. Get familiar with your surroundings and be ready on time to help you be more relaxed and ready to fish. Being flustered on a comp day is not a nice feeling and you won’t enjoy heading out – especially if you’ve forgotten something crucial. 
  • Re-check the list regularly and revise it. It may sound like a lot of items, but revising it often allows you to identify the really important items and possibly leave some less important items at home. 
  • Research the venue on YouTube – (which you more than likely already have). This allows you to see what others use to catch the fish with. Try not to overthink it and take too many lures that you honestly won’t throw. Keep it fairly simple. Look at past winners’ results and see what they were throwing. That really helps a lot. 
  • Start making small piles of gear – in your shed or garage and possibly a spare bedroom. Have your bags ready to fill and your vehicle free from items that are not coming. This allows you to pack the day prior to departure faster and you will know how many bags/containers you have to fit in.  

1 day prior to departure date: 

  • Pack clothing you are taking into the bags – toiletries, clothing to be used after fishing
  • Pack tent, bedding, tables, mattress, lighting, esky and dry food into the car 
  • Shop for food you need – or like I often do, wait until I arrive, then shop at the local supermarket – saves food spoiling. 
  • Have rods safely in rod-gloves and reels either on rods or packed in a separate bag.  
  • Pack in all the fishing gear – Livewell, Powerpole, batteries, lures etc.  
  • Ensure you have enough $$$ – sometimes cash is just more convenient especially if EFTPOS isn’t working
  • Fuel up the vehicle and hook up the trailer or load your kayak. 
  • Have a double check of everything – cross items off the list.
  • Don’t forget the ‘phone-charger’!
  • Get a good night’s sleep if possible – often I’m too excited to get going early in the morning and that’s not a possibility but if you can, do so.
  • Set your alarm and a back up alarm 5mins later. 

On the morning of departure, check tyres again on both tow vehicle and trailer. Have a quick look at your list again – throw in a spare water bottle to have in the car. Lock up the house and off you go.

Most importantly – ask questions! Ask a more experienced angler/competitor – either prior to departure or at the destination before ‘pre-fish’. I’ve never met anyone that isn’t happy to share information and put you at ease. We all start somewhere and being prepared makes for a great time. Enjoy! 

 

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