BlogFebruary 2015

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Fishing Tournaments

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Fishing Tournaments

By Debbie Hanson

Feb 08, 2015

Many avid anglers who are passionate about fishing decide to take that passion to the next level by becoming involved in competitive fishing tournaments.

Many avid anglers who are passionate about fishing decide to take that passion to the next level by becoming involved in competitive fishing tournaments. After all, tournaments are a whole new way to challenge yourself and test your fishing skills given the fact that you are fishing against the clock.


Just keep in mind that there will be a set of rules you'll need to follow which will vary depending on each specific tournament you enter. There is a learning curve and mistakes will be made, especially during the first few fishing tournaments you participate in.


Yep, I've made my own share of fishing tournament mistakes. For example, I once failed to secure the latch on my livewell. I watched what could have been a tournament winning snook leap out of the livewell and go sailing over the rear of the boat and back into the Gulf of Mexico! This is what we, tournament anglers, refer to as a "heartbreak."

Realizing that my experience has been primarily limited to saltwater flats tournaments, I decided to ask my social media audience about fishing tournament mistakes they have made so that you could read and learn from a number of viewpoints.


Here are the top five mistakes to avoid when fishing tournaments (including the names of the tournament anglers who shared those mistakes based on experience):

  1. "One of my biggest mistakes was not writing down the tournament weigh-in time. Got the times mixed up and arrived at weigh in too late." (Mark Paddie)

    Lesson: Don't forget the important details. If the tournament organizers don't provide a hard copy of the rules and weigh in times, make sure you write them down.

  2. "Don't throw back the winning fish just because you think you can get one bigger." (Ray Welle)

    Lesson: Don't get greedy or over-confident. You never know what variables may change the fishing conditions and cause the bite to shut off.

  3. "Not staying within the state and federal regulations." (Bob Bryant)

    Lesson: Always follow all applicable fishing laws period. Not only will you be disqualified from the tournament if you don't, you may be subject to state or federal consequences.

  4. "Not weighing in fish because I didn't think we had the weight." (Cory Willis)

    Lesson: Again, there are many variables that can affect fishing conditions. While you may think your fish won't be within the range needed for placing, you never know what size fish the other teams or anglers will bring back to the weigh station. When in doubt, weigh it out.

  5. "Having one too many fish in the livewell at weigh in." (Karl Erbacher)

    Lesson: Pay extremely close attention to the fish in your livewell and count them after each and every fish is added or replaced.

If you are fishing tournament veteran, can you share some of the biggest fishing tournament mistakes you've made and how you prevent making those mistakes now? Comment on the Facebook Page with your own experiences!

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.