HAD TO GET a spare to be safe…

We’ve all read the story “Bass on a Budget” or “Tournaments on a Shoestring” but the fact is you can only cut so far and then you compromise. Whether its the rig, the aftermarket gizmos or the travel and practice time, there are some things you have to do to compete well.

One thing I’ve have seen as I count down to fishing the 30th U.S. Open (which I guess you can still enter) is I’m glad I committed early in the year and have followed my plan.

I decided in January that if I was going to fish, I would have to upgrade my sonar. At the time, I figured I’d take advantage of discounts Lowrance was offering and would have it by February.

But financially, things didn’t quite go that way. I wasn’t able to get the HDS and get it rigged at Anglers Marine until almost June. With that chunk accounted for, I didn’t even blink about the Lucas Oil Summer Classic–it wasn’t in the plan. Just the thought of adding that $1600 entry plus expenses to my Open prefish costs was unrealistic–or worse.

Over the ensuing months I spent time fishing local waters with similar conditions to Mead, geared up for likely techniques and baits (and did the fitness thing), got the truck tuned up, a new trailer light and started pre-practice in early August.

NEW SONAR, but still carrying too much stuff…

All told, I’ve chalked up 1200 miles on the road, putting in about six full days on the water, some while camping, some in a cabin. I pounded the Gatorade but bought it in bulk. I ate light–only three sit-down meals in those six days/seven nights.

But then there were the adjustments: I needed more of those, had way too much of that, added some different pound test Sunline leader, more Owner dartheads, but had way too many Senkos. And even after all that, watching the water level stabilize over there, I still think I’ll have to take along a frog rod.

But this close to the date, I couldn’t afford a preventable problem. Back I went to Jordan Witt at Anglers Marine for a new waterpump for the Optimax, plus a spare tire package for the trailer and a tire repair. Now I’ve got spares of spares, plus a new “inflatable” lifevest, a tournament jersey and a new 1-800-BASSBOAT insurance policy–yet the hard reality is, I don’t expect to make my expenses back by winning this thing.

Still I did all this for just one three-day tournament–and I have great industry support and a powerhouse sponsor. Yet to fish seriously, these tools and preparatory steps are pretty hard to get around, especially in the case of  one’s fishing an entire tour. It still will require serious time, resources and commitment to fish a full season.

Truthfully? I think tour fishing remains a daunting task in these economic times. While I laud the new “Heritage” pro tournament circuit recently announced and can find nothing on paper I would argue, the founders have seriously misread the financial condition of the greater pool of “tournament” anglers–heck the whole region of the country. Many of these potential anglers have not been able to or will not be able to prepare as I have for a single week in September.

Dare I say, it’s a gamble to expect one’s successes (cashing checks) on such a tour will supplement or actually become the full source of one’s tournament account for the year?  It’s going to require much more than fishing on a shoestring budget. It will have to be more like a rope.



5 Responses to “You’ll need a thick shoestring to compete”

You made a wise decision in picking 1-800-BASS-Boat for your insurance! I wish I had! The other big name one that pays there dealers to push there policies is crap!

by George Kramer

Sounds like I made a good decision, then. Good luck on all fronts.


Best of luck at the U.S. OPEN this year and I have really enjoyed reading all your columns this year. I think you are doing everything right, in sticking with your planning, and if you can do that throughout the tournament you might surprise some poeple with how well yo do.I hope so, and again good luck.

Hey George,

The US open will be my first tournament (amateur). I feel like I’m way over my head. With the cost of getting ready being a killer.. Trying to prepare for any situation that my pros will put me in. But my biggest fear is pissing off a pro with my lack of abilities. It should be a great experience tho.. On a side note I took first place at the club tournament level a couple weeks ago, beating out 35 boats. This really boosted my confidence..

Good luck at the open… Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to draw ya as my pro:-)

by George Kramer

Forest: Once it’s spent, it’s spent. Don’t let those thoughts creep in your head. I’ve not fished with a AAA before, always pro head-to-head. All I would ask is a partner follow whatever “boat rules” there might be, then fish the available angles and be alert to casts the guy up front may not have made. (He can’t make them all). But no matter what, don’t make any cast you aren’t committed to. If you’re not mentally ready, don’t make the cast until you are.