It’s no secret that Google maps is a great tool for researching fishing areas that you haven’t visited before. I use it to find structure as well as working out distances when kayak fishing. With the kayak tournaments I think it’s necessary to balance travel time with actual fishing time. Seven hours might sound like a long time, but when you travel one and a half hours to your fishing spot, three of your seven hours are gone already.
After finding a few likely locations on Google maps, the next thing I usually look into are the tides and moon phases. For me, the tides are one of the most important factors, then choosing a location to fish. Over the years I have come to realise that different locations hold feeding fish at different stages of the tide no matter where you are fishing. Being able to pin point likely spots while using the tide to you advantage will minimise travel time and maximise the time your lure is kept in the water. The moon will determine whether I fish deep or shallow (generally in the cooler months). While looking at the predicted tides and moon I can get a good idea how much current flow there will be on the day. With this in mind, I can choose to stay clear of the main flow or perhaps fish it on the last hour of its run.
In the month leading up to any tournament I also keep and eye on the weekly fishing reports. This will give you a rough guide as to where the fish may be in the system and the quality of the fish around.
Monthly rainfall figures are another factor to consider when planning your locations to fish. These figures are readily available online and will give you a guide to how clean the system is that you are going to fish. Usually I the cleaner the water is the further up the system I will travel.
In the week leading up to the tournament I check ‘Sea Breeze’ online daily. Sea Breeze gives a one-week prediction of what the wind speed and direction will be.
This is a great tool, but just remember it is only a prediction and weather patterns can change.
Also in this last week before the comp I will go over the boat or kayak and make sure everything is in working order. Reels and rods will get a once over and I will usually rewind the braided line back on the spools. Batteries will be checked and charged for my live well and sounder. Safety gear is also checked and maintained if required.
Then every anglers favourite part of the preparation, a visit to your local tackle store to stock up the tackle boxes. By doing some online research you can narrow down what type of lures and techniques will work well on the system you are about to fish.
Preparation to this extent my not be for everyone, but I find it gives me some confidence going into a tournament. After fishing Port Macquarie for the first time in a kayak tournament recently I believe the research and preparation prior to the comp contributed to my 5th placing from 56 kayakers.
I hope this gives a little insight into the work that goes into preparing for a tournament, although most dedicated fishermen would not consider it as work, they do it for the love of the sport.
Cheers, Michael Maas