Salmon and Trout Tournament Fishing Tactics

Tournament Fishing - Tactics, Tips and How to get it done

Walking away from a tournament with hardware, checks and calcutta payouts is not a task easily accomplished.   Unless you cheat, you really have to be either very lucky or very good to accomplish this consistently.

The competition is fierce amongst tournament fishing pro's, there are an incredible amount of highly skilled tournament fishermen in today's game.    It used to be there was a small group of guys who regularly dominated the sport, now there seems to be a very strong up and coming cache of anglers who have figured all of this out.

Coming out of a recent tournament after leading day one and slipping to sixth place to finish a salmon fishing tournament on Lake Michigan, it's a good time to reflect on how rapidly the tactics and players change each year.

For sure, I personally have won many both as captain and crew, with multiple top 5 finishes.   Our crew this past weekend was laden with recent Pro first place finishers from last season and the season prior....and decades of wins behind us.

But it was the little things that cost us, as they usually do, and that is sort of what this blog post is intended to focus on to help dial you into the winners circle.

Whether it's a bass tournament, walleye, salmon or trout....even saltwater pelagic tournaments, you have got to have your program dialed in.   With that said, you have to be aware of and willing to acknowledge changes as they happen.   That is the key to consistent success over many years in tournament fishing.


First hand is the best, and THE preferred kind of information for entering any fishing tournament.   If you have been working your program for a few days (at least three) prior to the tournament, you can establish a pattern of movement and changes on the fish you are fishing.   If you are one of those guys who rolls in to town a day or two before and think you are going to pick up info on the dock or worse yet just follow another boat, you don't deserve to win anything.    

Many try this year after year, and I get work schedules, crew conflicts, etc.   But if you aren't willing to put in the time, then do not expect consistent success.    We call you "donators", we are glad to have you in the field "donating" your money to our winnings.   Without you, we wouldn't have tournaments, and we appreciate your participation no doubt.   But in reality, you are doomed before you leave the dock.  Sure you might get lucky, but more often than not your money ends up in the winners pocket.    Do your homework, get your own first party intel, and stick with it.


This is where second hand information comes into play.   Check the source on the intel obviously, but filter it through the lense of your first party information you have collected while pre fishing.   Example, you have checked different pockets of fish earlier in the week, picked one you want to target, and suddenly the day before or even during the tournament....things changed.    A quick call to a buddy after a lightning storm the night before can tip you off to the fish having slid deeper in the water column, or out a mile or two.    This type of info is valuable and you can adapt your program to it.    But if you didn't even have a basis for processing that intel in the first place, then you are just flying blind.

Lures, Baits and Presentations:

This is just absolute nonsense in most cases in my opinion, particularly when it comes to lures.    Sure, bait or lure profiles such as "spoon bite", "flasher bite", "meat bite" etc are general goal posts to be aware of.   But expecting someone to have a single "hot bait" that if you run it magic will happen is just garbage.    I can fish right next to a guy with a completely different set of baits and we can both we whacking them at the same time.

Sure, sometimes a particular shade of color or bait profile might be pulling bigger fish than the rest, but thinking this type of information is the silver bullet to put you in the winners circle is just the flat out wrong approach to take.    First, you need to have "big" fish in the area you are fishing.    Unless you are fishing in your buddies boat or working the exact same fish, his info won't mean anything to you.   

Having found the fish you want to fish prior to the tournament would indicate you have presentations in the water that already have produced big fish.   Use your own intel here, don't dump money on the counter at the tackle shop thinking it will solve your problems.

The Little Things - Time Management:

These are the things that kill you.   Not checking leaders, faulty gear, mis-placed items or disorganization.    Not managing your time effectively knowing that you must have one task completed before moving on to another....they all kill you in the end.   

This is what cost us this past weekend as a matter of fact.   We had a faulty split ring that went out and cost us our last fish, and we failed to make a decision on time with regards to moving to another location to get the rest of our fish.   That cost us 20 grand.   We had caught multiple fish on that lure days prior, and forgot to check the split ring on it (as we regularly do).   Having lost that fish and deciding to stick it out a little longer before moving to another location to catch the rest of our fish also cost us.    Little things...

You can't let things like this cost you, they are easily addressed with a little forethought and preparation.   Sure, you might sneak by a time or two, but eventually they will get you.

The Summary:

You probably started reading this article thinking you might get some hot tips or baits for your next tournament.   You didn't get it.    What you got was the things that really matter and what should be focused on the most.    Don't fool yourself into thinking you are a better fisherman than you are, and that you are only one hot lure away from the winners circle.   Unless you have the above items all addressed above, you are a donator.    

Do the work, check all the boxes, have a plan, be mechanically sound, have your gear in order.    Each team member has a job, you shouldn't have to remind them of that.    Don't stand around with your hands in your pockets when your partner is trying to get three things done at once.   

These are the tips, tricks and tactics that will consistently deliver paychecks in tournaments, not a hot lure.



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1 commentaire

I agree with everything above. Mechanically sound, first hand intel, and the little things are all make or break for us. I probably throw away more fluorocarbon leaders than anyone because I replace them so often. I would rather throw away $5.00 of line than watch a $5,000 fish break off in the prop wash and float away. Once you bust your ass to locate the bigs you need to be able to get them to the net. Blood run copper, weighted steel, braid, and fluorocarbon get fish in the net consistently for us.
Blood Run Fishing replied:
Awesome George…thank you!

Blood Run Fishing 5 The supporting cast to your fishing story #bloodrunfishing 6
George Kuhns

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