Tournament Fishing - Getting Involved

5/7/2018 9:38 AM

Tournament Fishing- Getting involved

By David Obirek

It’s spring and if you’re like me and other competitive anglers you’ve got a jump on planning the upcoming open water tournament season. Depending on popularity amongst other factors tournaments can fill up quickly. But not every angler competes or aspires to take their fishing skills to the next level. I would say that most people are just happy with wetting a line on those warm summer days and keeping things simple. However what about those that love the challenge of competition and want to stretch their love of fishing as far as it can go. Tournament fishing can seem intimidating which may bring an accelerated level of anxiety that is often enough to keep some away from ever trying it. But what you need to know is that every person who currently competes in tournaments regardless of how competitive or successful they have become have started off at this very same place.

My start on the tournament scene happened approximately 15-years ago however I wasn’t fishing. My first experience in tournaments came as a volunteer and eventually a tournament director. There are many components to tournaments and volunteering can be a great introduction that might just help ease the nerves. Volunteering exposes you to all of the aspects of competitive angling and is a great learning tool by just observing. This will also serve as a great networking opportunity and a way to meet new people including those competing. The majority of anglers especially the ones that I have met over the years are open to giving advice and sharing their own personal experiences on the tournament scene. Even with all the knowledge in-hand, at some point you will just need to take that plunge and get your feet wet.

There are a variety of tournament styles and selecting one that fits your skill level is important. I wouldn’t recommend a novice angler to enter a highly skilled event with a significant cash and or prize payout. These events usually attract the seasoned veterans from near and far and have costly entry fees. Learning to walk before you run is a great way to scale yourself onto the tournament scene. There are many fun tournaments and derbies with low cost entries that make them an ideal starting point for the budget conscious person. In most cases they still offer you the opportunity to win cash and prizes but in a much less competitive atmosphere. Regardless of the tournament level, formats and rules are usually similar which will help build up your confidence and comfort level. 

Things to first look at when considering entering your first tournament:

  • Entry Fee amount
  • Team or individual tournament
  • Location
  • Target Species
  • One day or multi-day event
  • Tournament Rules including any specific regulations related to the body of water where the event is being held
  • Weigh-in format or CPR (Catch, Photo, Release)
  • Boat required or is shore fishing allowed
  • Competitive or family type derby

All competitive tournaments require you to be in a boat and to have items such as a working live-well. There are many fun oriented tournaments that are shore fishing based and is a great way to get kids involved while getting the beginner angler involved. Finding that right tournament to get you started is important in setting the course forward while enjoying the fun and energy that tournament angling can bring regardless of level.

Take the time to search your local tourism association or angling club and see what’s planned in your region this summer. Make a point of taking that next step and get in on all of the hype because once you try it I can guarantee you will be hooked. 

David Obirek is a freelance fishing columnist with the Selkirk Journal Newspaper and is featured monthly in “The Fishing Journal”. Based out of Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada, David is also a competitive walleye angler and a member of the Central Walleye Trail (CWT). You can follow David on twitter (@walleye_dave), Facebook (@thefishingjournalselkirk), Instagram (@thefishingjournal) or visit 

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David Obirek