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Being Prepared
By Terry Ellis

   The sun is just peaking over the horizon. The only ripple on the water is the wake of your boat. The sweet smell of outboard exhaust fills the air as you shut'er down at your first bass hole. Your hands trembling as a few thousand dollars are on the line. But wait, your lure of choice is not tied on. It takes twice as long to tie the knot as your nerves haven't calmed yet and maybe a bit worse cause your rods are not prepared. That maybe all it takes to lose a tournament, a few precious minutes here and there of not being prepared.

   Being prepared the night prior to a tournament is just as important as pre-fishing and going over all of your maps in detail. You can know where the fish are, know what they are biting on, and if things are not ready in the morning it can throw your entire day off.

   As you prefish take note of what your lure of choice is going to be. The night before I not only retie that lure but if I think only a couple of lures are my choice at daybreak I will have a back up on as well. That way if you lose one or get a huge backlash, no need to lose time in putting on another, just grab the other rod and you won't even miss a beat.

   Make sure you know where your extra ones are as well. That way you donít have to waist time scrambling through the boat. Also make sure the hooks are sharp. The less you have to do at day break or on the water the more relaxed you will be.

   Check your line for any nicks as well. Not only on your rod you are starting out with but on all of your rods. I always retie anything that is tied on with monofilament. Not just cutting off the lures either, check up a few feet to make sure it is unscathed. Check all other rods and line as well.

   Getting all your gear ready and stowed for easy access will decrease your search time for it while tournament time is dwindling.

   I always have my rain gear ready and in the boat as well. Never know when a shower will pop up out of nowhere. I fished in a tournament a couple of years ago and it was clear and sunny most of the day. Out of nowhere, it became cloudy and poured rain. There wasnít even any rain in the forecast so always be prepared for the worst.

   Know what you are taking for food as well. Nothing like scrambling around in the kitchen and fridge at 4am looking for something to bring along. The things that donít need to be kept cold get out or pack it before going to bed.

   I even have all of my cloths laid out for the next day. Watch the forecast the night before, but be prepared, the weather man is only a shot in the dark, if its suppose to be warm at least have a jacket stowed so you can grab if need be.

   Have the boat hooked up and ready to roll. I even like to gas up the night before, truck and boat. That way I can sleep in a little later and you wont have that gas smell on your hands. That is the worst. Get to the lake smelling like a refinery, not what the fish are looking for.

   Well this is just a starting list of being prepaid for a fishing tournament. Just remember the more prepared you are, the more you can concentrate on just boating fish and cashing a check.

   Terry Ellis