by Ron Mayer
Most competitive sports culminate their seasons with the crowning of a champion, followed by a much needed "off" season. The competitors have an opportunity to rest and rehabilitate injuries sustained during the prior season, often there are changes and additions to rosters, and there are always improvements and often complete revamping of strategies to keep "teams" in the competitive hunt for championship titles.
For tournament anglers this is not necessarily the case. Many tournament anglers compete in multiple circuits, most of which set their tournament dates months, sometimes years, in advance of the actual date. Tournament organizers don't seem to be generally concerned with how their schedule will affect another circuit, with the main goal being that of drawing the largest number of anglers to your particular event regardless of what other events may be being held. Geographic locations of tournaments are also thrown into the mix as many southern states are able to hold tournaments year round. Seasons start to overlap each other, summer seasons come to a close often in late September while fall circuits can begin around Labor Day and last into December, and winter seasons can start as early as November and run through March, just in time for several spring circuits to begin in late February and run through June.
In the midst of this logistical nightmare the angler must repair, update, or replace equipment. Routine maintainence must be performed on boats, trailers, tow vehicles, electronics, baits, and rods and reels. Sponsorships must be renewed, extended, added and subtracted. With this comes sponsorship commitments such as working boat shows or seasonal sales events, giving seminars, attending training classes on new products, providing input on product design, filing quarterly reports, and making time for their families.
Somewhere in this mess they need to find time to fish. Not the "It's a nice day, let's go fishing" time, but fishing in anything from blistering heat and humidity to bone chilling cold, snow, and relentless wind and rainstorms. Fishing not to enjoy the day away from work, but to be at work. Fishing to find the right combinations of location, baits, colors, presentations and even time of day so that on tournament day they may be afforded the opportunity to collect on their efforts.
Is tournament fishing a competitive sport? Absolutely. In the tournament world you will find a multitude of people and personalities, each of them enduring the successes and failures in their own ways. Each of them driven by a neverending desire to win.
Is tournament fishing a profession? For a very select few, it is their only profession. Tournament fishing is a multi-billion dollar world wide business. It drives a source of revenue in the economy that directly affects millions of people around the globe.
Is there really an off season in tournament fishing? Not a chance.