Monday, February 19, 2018

BLOG: Bryant - Pre-Season Prep

I don't know about you, but this cold, nasty, wet, dreary weather has given me a serious case of cabin fever. The days of shorts and flip-flops seem ages away, but sure enough, they'll be here before we know it. I never thought I'd say this, but bring on the 90-degree temps and stifling humidity of August. I'll take that over cold, wet and clammy any day.

It's early February, and redfish tournament season is just around the corner - right at a month away, as a matter of fact. My tournament partner, Trey Russo, and I have already started prepping for tournament season. I've got several of my reels broken down on my work bench, ready to be cleaned and lubed for another tough spring and summer in the salt. I've got a sack full of terminal tackle - split rings, hooks, swivels and snaps - that needs to be added to some worn out topwaters and crankbaits. My spoons and spinnerbaits could use a good polish and shine. And, of course, I'm making sure my tackle bag is well-stocked with plenty of TTF plastics.

Hundreds of tournament anglers go through this same ritual every year. Most fishermen aren't as obsessive as us when it comes to tackle preparation, but when one lost fish could mean the difference between winning ten grand or walking away with nothing but a sunburn, you learn to take this stuff seriously. Dull hooks, old line, slipping reel drags and corroded trailer bearings are just a few of the things that can put a major damper on your tournament day - many of us have learned that the hard way, and that's why we put such an emphasis on preventative maintenance.

When most folks think about tournament fishing, their mind goes straight to catching fish... BIG fish. But catching fish is only one small battle in a much larger war. You've got to make it to and from your fishing spot (which can be much easier said than done). You've got to keep your fish alive. You've got to manage your time in such a way to give yourself maximum fishing hours while still allowing breathing room just in case something goes wrong on the journey back to the weigh-in... and something WILL go wrong at some point.

That's why I love tournament fishing - it's the mental chess match that makes it so fun and challenging. Sure, I love the sensation of watching a redfish absolutely plow my Killer Flats Minnow. I love the fight. I love the sun. I love the salty air and the sound that millions of blades of spartina grass make when they bend in unison with the southeast wind. But most of all, I love the strategy that goes into a successful tournament day - scrutinizing your plan down to minutes and organizing your "milk run" for maximum efficiency.

Is it tournament time yet? I'm counting down the days and looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones on the trail this year.

See ya' on the water,
Jason Bryant/Team TTF


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