Are You Setting Yourself Up For Success or Failure?


I just recently got done with my 3rd kayak fishing tournament of the year. I have been really looking forward to this tournament for about 6 weeks now. Before I get into why let’s start with all the tournament details. 12 Mile Lake is a quality producer of big bass and was the 4th stop on the Iowa Kayak Anglers (IKA) tournament trail this year. This tournament was held in conjunction with the Midwest Kayak Fishing Series (MKFS). The IKA 12 Mile tournament is an open, while the MKFS was not. At the start of the tournament there was 53 anglers signed up in the open IKA 12 Mile tournament. The tournament had a first cast at 5:30 am and lines out by 3 pm. Anglers have nine and a half hours to put the best combined length of their top 5 bass together. Bass are tracked using the C.P.R. method – Catch, Photo, Release.

So why was I excited for this tournament? I started to pre-fish 12 mile about 6 weeks ago. I went 3 times between 6-5 weeks ago and caught quality fish, while getting a limit within a couple hours each time. I had a day where I could throw any lure I had, and I would catch fish. Those are just fun days. Most fish averaged 17 inches and I had a couple over 20 inches. I had multiple days where I was on fish in the same spot. This is a great feeling.

Large mouth bass

Photo Caption – Bass caught while pre fishing

Now you must be thinking this is where his excitement turns into results on tournament day. It is actually where, underneath that excitement, I recap how I set myself up for a bad tournament. I did not consciously set myself up for a bad day. I did prepare for a negative outcome by being lazy, under prepared, and over confident.

I quit pre-fishing 12 Mile Lake about a month before the tournament. Life happens, and I was left without a way to transport my fishing kayak. I was lucky enough to be able to fish at Lake Ahquabi because I was able to leave my kayak there while my car and trailer got fixed. I continued to fish Lake Ahquabi up until the tournament. Getting the kayak out and going fishing is better than no fishing, but not continuing to pre-fish 12 Mile hurt me. Looking back on it now, I should have found a way to continue to pre-fish 12 Mile. The conditions changed and so did the patterns. Techniques I was using a month ago were now useless with current conditions.

This leads up to me leaving for the tournament right as I got off work at 3 pm the afternoon before the tournament. I loaded my kayak before work in the store’s extra truck. I was not happy with the way it was loaded so I switched to our smaller rental 12’ ATAK fishing kayak. It fit well with the tailgate down and I was happier taking it safely down the road. What I didn’t do was even look it over. I did notice the morning of the tournament that the seat back was broken in several areas. They were easy fixes if I had the right equipment. I forgot to bring my boat repair kit and now I had to improvise a makeshift solution. This was unneeded time and attention on something that should have been caught before loading the kayak in the first place.

Yellow/black Kayak in truck bed

Photo Caption – Loaded up with an unknown broken seat

So on to the actual tournament. A couple things really hurt me on the water. One was no pre-planning of meals. 9.5 hours on the water is a long day. I winged my “food plan” on the way out of town. A bag of beef jerky and a couple gallons of water was not a solid plan for tournament day. I knew it was going to be in the 90’s and having plenty of water was a good plan. Not actually planning time to eat, along with what to eat, hurt me throughout the day. That bag of jerky was also forgotten in the truck and had to be retrieved around 1 pm when I was really hungry. By now you see the “winging it food plan” was not a success.