Lakecaster Online

By: Sue Crochet

Last month I gave some very basic guidelines on what type of clothing you ladies will need if you plan to do any tournament angling. In this issue, we'll touch on what skills you'll need to perfect, fishing accessories/tools you'll need to gather, and how to make that decision to fish as a Pro (boater) or an Amateur (non-boater).

Most of us learn how to fish with close-faced, spincasting equipment, which will always have its place and time. However, when preparing for tournament angling, it's imperative that you learn how to use baitcasting equipment as soon as possible. We'll discuss selection of various types of rods and reels in a later article. Suffice to say, baitcasting tackle provides more flexibility in terms of line size and type you can use, various types of baits you can fish with, how fast or slow you retrieve a lure, and what types of rods you like to use. Most importantly, baitcasting equipment usually has more stamina, for getting those big 'uns to the boat.

There are many types of baitcasting reels and I could tell you the brand I use is the best; but the truth is, there are lots of good reels out there. The best advice I can give you is to find one that feels comfortable in your hand, but has a reputation for being durable. Once you've made your choice, you'll need to spend some time practicing how to cast. Using a practice 'plug', cast until you can get adequate distance without getting a backlash on every cast. This does not mean you have to cast a mile! Next, tie on various types of lures and practice adjusting the tension on your reel for the weight of the lures. Again, practice throwing the various lures until you can achieve adequate distance with infrequent backlashes. Get plenty of practice getting those backlashes out, because you'll always have to deal with these if you spend enough time on the water. Lovingly called "professional overruns" by those of us who must grudgingly admit we still get them from time to time, they usually come at a time when you least want them. (Like when a big school of 4-pounders comes to the surface in a feed frenzy!) However, you can reduce the frequency of these occurrences by making sure you've done some of the things I just talked about.

Ladies, our guys are usually pretty patient at first (some more than others), but they soon get tired of doing everything for us. The best way to make sure you get to go fishing with him, however often you want to, is to learn to handle your own equipment. Next to getting your casting skills honed, learning to tie on your own baits is probably the most important thing you can do to assure that you will have to bother him as little as possible. There are several types of knots you can use to tie on lures, depending on the size of the 'eye' on the bait or hook. The most commonly used is known as the Palomar knot and the second most commonly used is the Improved Cinch. Any angler can show you how to tie these knots and there've been lots of magazine articles published over the years, which give step by step instructions on how to tie these knots. Find out how and practice!

I'll get into selection and use of tackle and/or lures in future articles, but there are some more things you'll need to gather, especially if you're going to tournament fish.
1) Sunglasses (with UV protection)
2) Clippers (for cutting your line)
3) Scissors (especially for braided line)
4) Needle-Nose Pliers (for getting those well-hooked fish off, especially if they're treble hooks)
5) First Aid Supplies
6) Lip Balm (with UV protection)
7) Sunscreen (with UV protection)
8) Life Vest
9) Fishing License

All tournament anglers should have some type of portable tackle organizing system. There are various brands on the market, but most usually consist of smaller soft bags and plastic boxes, which fit into larger soft bags or plastic boxes. There are some that are large enough for you to carry everything you need, except your life jacket and rods. As a non-boater or Amateur, you can keep everything in this bag from one tournament to the next, changing out only the different types of lures you might need. All Pros should keep a system like this handy as well, for those times when she'll have to fish in someone else's boat.

How do you make the decision to fish as a Pro or Amateur? My suggestion to someone who's just beginning to fish the national tour is to fish, at the very least, your first full year as an Amateur or non-boater. Even though you may have been fishing for many years and can handle a boat, learning all the new lakes can be very time-consuming and discouraging at times, especially when you're fishing against women who have been on these lakes many times before. In a two- or three-day tournament, you'll be fishing with different partners who'll probably fish different parts of the lake and, more than likely, will put you right on fish. Instead of having to worry about where to go and handling the boat, you can just sit back, enjoy the ride, and have fun fishing! Of course, you'll want to make lots of mental notes and write them down after each fishing day. This will help you, just in case you decide to fish as a Pro the next time you're on that lake.

There are so many things we'll be able to expand upon as the months go by, but I think this will help you to prepare and feel pretty confident about fishing that first big tournament. Of course, I'm always available if you have any questions, so please give me a call @ (318) 725-3975 or e-mail me @
Reminder ... Louisiana fishing licenses expired June 30th!

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