CATFISHING TOURNAMENTS: How to Enter a Catfishing Tournament?

Catfish tournaments are gaining popularity among sport fishermen throughout the US and are steadily progressing in recent years. Anglers have become conscientious about the resource and practice catch and release and promote the sport through catfishing tournaments. If you like to catfish and have a little bit of a competitive edge, catfishing tournaments may be just what you’re looking for.

1st step is to find a tournament in your area or region. You can accomplish this a few different ways.
1. Google (catfishing tournaments in your state or region)
2. USCA has active and up to date information by state. Find local events in your state.
3. American Procatters has up to date information on regional and national events.

Once you have found a tournament that may interest you, call the tournament coordinator and get a feel for the type of tournament they will be conducting. There are three types of tournaments that you can find in most states throughout the US. Depending on your level of interest, there is a tournament for you.

1. Local buddy tournaments/ throw togethers: These tournaments are often started by a group of local guys that like to fish tournaments but there was nothing in their area to fish.

The local buddy tournaments are pretty laid back, when you arrive at the tournament location you may be just looking for a couple guys standing around there truck or boat with clip boards taking registrations. These tournaments are great starter tournaments but can be just as challenging and competitive as any other tournaments. The entry fee on these tournaments is usually under 100.00 and can be a great learning experience if you plan on stepping up a notch. Depending on the interest in your area, these local tournaments you can expect 10 to 30 participants or boats.

2. Regional and annual events: Once you arrive at the tournament destination you will probably notice that other anglers are showing up also, look for a place to park your rig and begin looking for the registration location. Most well run regional tournaments will have a very noticeable designated area with a table set up along with sponsor banners for registration and information. These tournaments are generally ran by organized clubs that are actively promoting the sport of catfishing and holding events on several bodies of water throughout a certain region. Members will follow a regional trail to compete for points to recognize top anglers for angler of the year bragging rights. A good regional trail will draw 20-50 boats or more and the entry fee can exceed 100.00

3. National tournaments: you approach these well organized catfishing tournaments a little differently than the other tournaments. The concept is the same as any tournament, but the registration and entry is handled a different way because of the large number of anglers that will follow the trail from one area of the country to another on several bodies of water throughout the US.

National trails will require some travel time, hotel time, and some practice time for those who haven’t ever seen the tournament waters. Anglers fishing these national events will start pulling in to these towns 2-3 days before the tournament to get familiar with the body of water and find a pattern or method that will catch quality catfish that will allow them to compete with some of the best cat anglers in the nation. Entry fees for these events can exceed 200.00 and can be pre paid with a check or credit card in advance, however they will accept entries the night before the event at the mandatory captains meeting at a designated site, generally it will take place at the host hotel.

It will not matter which type of tournament you fish, all tournaments large or small will have a waiver attached to the entry form exempting them from any mishaps that may occur during tournament hours. This waiver must be signed when registering.

After registering you will receive a boat number, this number will indicate the position in which you will take off. The number you received will indicate the number in which you registered. First come first served. The tournament director will call out numbers for the tournament morning blast off in a timed order from number one to whatever, until all the boats are released. When your number is called your free to go fishing.

Live well check: Once you’re registered in local and regional tournament you will need to get a live well check, which most all tournaments will require this before you launch your boat, a flag or sticker will be placed on your boat as a confirmed check. Be sure you have one. This just keeps everybody on the up and up. The national trails will very seldom require a live well check because they will give polygraph test to the top finishers along with some ransoms.

Live well requirements: most all catfishing tournaments are catch and release.

Whether they are at a local or national level, they will require all fish to be alive at the time of the weigh-in. a proper live tank is essential to maintain five healthy fish for a long period of time.

Your live tank should be able to accommodate the size fish you will be catching. example … if your fishing in waters that just support channel cats you can get away with a 40-60 gallon live tank, if your fishing in waters that trophy blues inhabit you will need a much bigger live tank, 80-125 gallons. The live tank should be equipped with a recirculation pump and a spray bar for aeration, other products on the market that go above and beyond a spray bar, sporting features such as filtration, purification and aeration.

Blast off:
Once you’re registered and have had your live well checked, you’re ready to launch your boat. Anglers will be hovering around the launch site awaiting their number to be called at the official tournament start time. You are free to go fishing when your number is called.

Weigh in:
Just as there is an official start time there is also an official stop time also. Anglers must be in the weigh-in line or launch site by a certain time to avoid disqualification. All fish to be weighed must be alive and is compliant with all state and local laws, meaning size limits. When it’s your turn to weigh your fish, tell the tournament director your boat number and start off loading your catch in the designated weighing containers provided. In most local and regional tournaments the weight is documented and the fish are returned back to your live tank to be taken back to the body of water and released. The national tournament trails will have someone to return the fish for you. Once the last angler weigh’s in, the weights are reviewed and a winner is determined by the most weight.

Global Positioning Systems: How important are they when catfishing?

Global Positioning Systems: How important are they when catfishing? Will a GPS help me catch more catfish?

Catfishermen have always found their honey holes prior to the GPS technology. using the ole trial and error plus many days spent on the water is how it was done.
When the GPS was available and affordable to the general public, it defiantly made catfishing less time consuming and more productive.

For me, it is an essential tool that helps me in many ways. As soon as I launch my boat I will turn my depth finder on, which also has GPS capabilities.

I utilize this unit for various situations throughout the day. The GPS and mapping chip installed allows me view, mark and navigate and utilize several aspects of the unit for safe and successful trip.

What would I use a GPS for when fishing for catfish?

1. Mapping – most lakes or impoundments are very well defined in the contour of the bottom, allowing you to locate key spots that could hold catfish, such as under water points, ditches and depression along with old creek channels and more. Rivers however are not as defined in the contour of the bottom but more defined on the navigational channels. This will help pin point where you can safely run and help in locating key spots along the channel that will hold catfish. If you are fishing new water and are not sure of where to run, having real time mapping capability can help. The ability to zoom in on detail and look for contours, shallow water hazards and structure is a huge benefit. Also mapping allows me to mark certain waypoints along the contour or channels when im searching for catfish.

2. Marking locations – I use the GPS to mark certain locations when I’m searching for catfish. I do mark single locations like a brush piles or structure of some sort with a waypoint however I will also mark several locations in an area that intend to drift.

And as i begin to drift fish, I will so to say, connect the dots, drifting from one way point to the next. staying on the channel edge or drop. For an example: on the river I will find the main channel and most of the time it will be well defined with a significant drop of 4 foot or more.

I will then begin to zigzag back and forth over the channel as I work my way up or down river, marking a waypoint about every 100 foot as it drops off in the channel. Soon will have up to 10-15 waypoint marks along the defined channel edge and ill start back at the beginning and drift my waypoints, following my marks and connecting the dots until I’ve reached the end.

3. Navigation – I fish a lot of new water throughout the United States fishing the various catfishing tournament trails and rely on my GPS for navigation. Knowing where to run safely makes me more efficient and gives me a piece of mind that I won’t run up on underwater island or shallow flats and other underwater hazards. The navigational mapping can also be helpful at night or in foggy conditions on new water or filimlar water.

4. Database – My GPS saves all my data that I have input into it, so it also serves as a fishing log. You can name your waypoints on your depth finder as you make them to jog your memory about certain spots when you’re in the area. Download your saved waypoints to your computer and analyze or edit them from your PC. This can help find patterns and make game plans for future trips.

Is GPS something that I need to have to be successful?

No, like I said, anglers have been catching fish for ever without the use of a GPS with just a little basic knowledge of where to look. However the GPS can save some time and take the guess work out of the equation. And when you combine some good basic knowledge with the GPS, this will make you more successful.