So the often asked question about bass fishing, how do I get started in tournament fishing. The answer to this question will depend on circumstances of the individual. Age, budget, and knowledge are the first to come to mind. Others can be equipment related, boat or no boat, kayak, float tube. So let’s take a look at some of these and see what may be available.
So let’s first look at those youngsters of high school age. Many schools now a days have a bass fishing program. This seems to be more available in areas that are closer to a tournament body of water. I’m sure it’s not the rule, just an observation. There are high school sanctioned events throughout Northern California and across the country. My suggestion would be to contact your local tackle retailers for more info. They will usually be involved if there is a program in the area.
From high school moving on to college there is an ever growing number of colleges with bass fishing teams and plenty of tournaments to attend. Again it’s best to search and check with local schools . In northern California there is a good choice of schools. Simpson University, Sac State, Chico State, San Jose State to name a few. At both levels it would not be unusual for some parent involvement or assistance required in one way or another.
Outside of the school opportunities we get to the working folks or those who are not in school anymore. There are many options and you do not need to have a boat to compete. Several organizations offer Pro/Am events. Signing up to fish is as simple as paying your entry and showing up with your needed accessories. Things like a PFD, tackle, rods, baits or lures, and your lunch for the day. Its is appropriate to offer money to help cover the daily cost to the boater and should be discussed with your pro for the day. There are a couple different types of Pro/Ams. Both are draw events where you will fish with a different pro each day. Wild West Bass Trail and FLW events you weigh your best 5 fish for the day, you must catch them. Won Bass offers a shared weight format where you fish as a team to weigh the best 5 fish caught by both anglers. You still fish with a different pro each day.
Another draw type event for boaters and non boater in the Federation events. These are lower entry fees than the Pro/Ams but are similar in that you will fish with a different boater each day. You also weigh your own fish. These are great events and you can qualify for State, National and eventually the Bassmaster Classic. These events are State Federations and you can just search your states Bass Federation events.
For those that prefer to fish solo, or don’t have the means to buy a tournament boat, there is float tube and Kayak fishing tournaments. The Kayak movement has really taken off across the country. This is the fastest growing tournament experience currently and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Fellow RB Bass Angler Shaun Leytem is doing really well in the Kayak events in California. If you have questions he is easy to find on Facebook. Maybe he can be convinced to write an info article and post it on RBBass for all to see.
Team events do have some boat requirements. However this does not mean you need a new 21ft bass boat. A kill switch and functioning live well will often qualify you to fish. Check with the individual tournament organization for their rules. When I first started I fished out of a 14 ft run about with a big ice chest and a pump. I built a back deck, put a trolling motor on the bow and went fishing. Mike Tremont and I actually won some tournaments in that boat. It was a terrible excuse of a boat to be honest, but it was what we had and we enjoyed every minute. As far as options for tournament organizations there are many. Rookie leagues as well as Pro Teams. Id suggest not worrying about those classifications. It usually takes about the same weights to win an event. Rookie leagues tend to have a lower entry fee, which also translates to lower pay outs. Pro teams such as Wild West Bass Trail draw big fields and have great payouts. Costs are about $100 difference per event. Newjen, WWBT, Best Bass Tournaments, just to name a few.
There is also clubs that can be joined in your area. The clubs are all over and welcome boaters and non boaters. Entry fees for their events are also low. These are a great place to meet other like minded fisherman, make some friends, and maybe a tournament partner. Clubs are truly the least expensive option to compete in bass fishing. Most larger city’s will have a club or two. Joining is relatively easy. Some will even allow teens, but you will need to check as it may vary from club to club.
So if you love bass fishing and have a desire to compete, find the best option for you. Wether is budget or time there is something for everyone.