Half the fun, to me anyways, of a tournament is getting prepared. What's it like for me? Well, you know those movies/real-life when the girl is getting ready for some big date or whatever? Yeah, it's probably like that.First off, I have to focus on what I'm fishing for. My next tournament is just a week away - the Oregon Rockfish Classic. Our target is rockfish and lingcod for the most part. Some might try for halibut since it will be open and legal. This is a single big-fish event.
Since we know what I'm targeting, now its time to get all the gear together. Big saltwater jigs running 2 to 8 ounces, 5 and 6 inch swimbaits, 4 to six inch hoochies (squid bodies),6 to 11 inch grubs... that type of thing. For bottom fish like lingcod and rockfish, I run the state maximum of 3 hooks. At intervals above the big jigs, I run two 7/0 shrimp flies, or hoochies. I tie these onto dropper loops, with a duo-snap at the bottom. With all of these pre-tied, I keep a bunch of pre-tied leaders in baggies, and then snap on the jig I want to use.
I buy all the jigs in bulk, then bring them home to paint. Some get black, some get white, some no color at all. They ALL get covered with a UV reactive clearcoat. I also have a couple diamond jigs which get the clearcoat on every-other-side which I hope brings a UV flash attraction to the rig. While I'm doing this, I also replace the treble hooks on the diamond jigs with big single siwash or circle hooks (in the 4/0 to 12/0 varieties). All my leaders for this tournament are tied to 30 or 40# fluorocarbon.
The tackle I really don't spend a whole lot of specific time on tending. I usually just get bored while watching TV and tie some stuff up.
What takes a good amount of time is Map Study and other research. NOAA provides their nautical charts online and I give them a lot of going over. I've starred at these two maps long enough to pretty much have the coastline memorized http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/18561.shtml http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/18520.shtml.
I don't need to know the maps to know where I'm going (though it does help!), but I've studied them as much as possible to be able to identify good fishing locations. I'm looking for rocky outcrops, reefs, sharp dropoffs, etc. Unfortunately this area of the coast hasn't been very closely charted, so I know there are a areas missing.
Fortunately, if you look hard enough in your research, you'll find some great information. Google the area your fishing and spend time going through 30+ pages of the results you get back. You don't have to go to every link you turn up, but spend some time here! You really don't know what you'll find. In this situation, lets say I found a map, very similar to the NOAA charts above, with circles, notes, and X-marks-the-spot fishing info.
Yes, its true.
Now I turn to the GPS on my fishfinder, and start marking points. I do the same with the Navionics software on my iPhone. With the Navionics software, I am able to map out the whole paddle, mark points of interest, and upload my paddle plan to the interwebs and share them on Facebook. To me, it's important to have a plan that family can find in case of an emergency. Two clicks on the computer and they can know exactly when and where I had planned to be. I duplicate this information on my GPS as well. Ideally I use the GPS on my fish finder as my primary, and the GPS function on my iPhone to be my backup method of mapping.
With the map all planned out, its time to look at the boat and related gear. Fortunately my kayak requires little maintenance. First and foremost I drain and fully recharge the batteries on my VHF radio and fish finder/GPS. These two items (GPS and VHF) will be two of the most important safety tools at my disposal, so I need to make sure the two of them will be fully functional for the tournament. I also replace the backup batteries for my VHF radio. Even if they're not used, batteries can drain, especially if they're exposed to large temperature changes (like sitting in the car for a few weeks of sun, rain, etc), so I choose to just replace them. There's always a use for them around the house.
There isn't a whole lot more that needs to be done with the kayak. I give everything a once over. Make sure screws are tight, the seat is adjusted properly, pool noodles in the hull are out of the way, that type of thing.
I suppose that's it! It really doesn't sound like much, but there's a good amount of time involved. The amount of study alone is probably in the neighborhood of 80 hours. I spread things out over the course of several weeks.