So you finally got to your fishing vacation hotspot, and there's a bass tournament going on, now what? There are many questions as to whether or not a tournament on a given lake makes the fishing more difficult for the everyday anglers that are left to fend for themselves.
We want to give you some advice on fishing during a pro bass event, whether it's a MLF- or a B.A.S.S.-sanctioned affair, or any other decent-sized event. Some folks don't stop fishing just because the pros are on the lake, but should they?
The authorities can't shut down every lake to fishing or recreation just because there's a tournament is going on, so knowing how to navigate yourself if you aren't participating is pretty important. It is up to us to have some reasonable boundaries and respectfully fish the way we want to.
Plan Around It
This should go without saying, but if you can find a different day or tie to fish a lake, you should. Check the tournament schedule on your home lake. Some hard working folks only get get one vacation a year and if it's scheduled during a big fishing tournament, maybe there's reason enough to consider another time period. If you can't work around the actual dates, just branch out a bit and consider visiting areas that have potential rather than the tried and true honey holes. Since many tournaments only last two to three days (not counting practice if it's a major event), you should have plenty of time and space to find some areas to fish, especially if you know the lake well.
Don't Fish Alongside the Pros
This is a little like sign stealing in baseball: it's technically not against the rules, but it is against common courtesy. While pro anglers might have the run of the place, they don't stack right on top of each other, and you shouldn't crowd them either. Don't cast a line if you're within 50 yards of a tournament competitor. Our suggestion is to relax, wait your turn, and be a spectator for a while. You might just learn something.
You should always be out to improve, and a successful day on the water is reason to be proud. But you don't have to rub it in if you've put more fish in your livewell than a tournament angler has had bites. And you especially don't need to be loud about a lunker bass that would have been the biggest in the tourney. If you weren't competing, you have no case to make, and you should keep that type of stuff to yourself.
Live and Learn
Even with all of the money and the prestige swirling around big tournament professional bass fishing, everyone should be respectful and supportive. Without everyday anglers like you and I taking part, angling may have never reached the professional level it's at today.
Not only that, but pro bass anglers know quite well which side of their bread is buttered; in other words they get that it is the regular guys and gals who fish are also the ones who follow B.A.S.S. and the MLF tours and go a long way towards keeping the fan base full and the prize money good.
With that in mind, we all need to remember that a tournament on your favorite lake will only last a few days and not the entire summer.
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