Think of the perfect weekend for a fisherman. You and your close friends pack up, load up, hitch the boat up, and headout. Some people may view this as work, but with the conversation, joking, and good humor that come along with it – to an avid fisherman – this isn’t work at all. It’s fun! You are anticipating a full weekend of sport fishing.
Sport fishing is competitive fishing, where anglers compete against each other to win a trophy or a prize – along with bragging rights. The competition is usually judged on the total weight of fish that are caught during a certain period of time. These types of fishing tournaments take place all over the world on a regular basis. Most tournaments require that you catch a certain species of fish.
Some sport fishing tournaments may also require that you fish in a certain way, such as fishing from a boat, from the shore, or fly fishing. Sometimes there are fishing teams, while other times the competition is for individuals. Scores may also be given for aspects other than the total weight of the fish. For example, if a fisherman catches a heavier fish on a lighter test line, he may score additional points. If the score is just based on catching, tagging, and releasing their catch, the fisherman usually receives a flat score for each fish, which is then divided by the line weight.
Sport fishing takes on numerous forms, including fly fishing, big game fishing, rock fishing, bass fishing, shore fishing, ice fishing, troll fishing, and lure fishing. Anglers tend to take it pretty serious, and often have strategies that they will use to try to out-fish the other competitors. Often, family members are included in the tournaments as well. Anglers may also participate in deep sea fishing tournaments, where they fish for shark, marlin, tuna, or other large salt water species.
The required equipment varies from one tournament to the next. Naturally, you will, in most cases, be required to use a rod, reel, and tackle, and fishing nets will not be allowed. Most tournaments also ban the use of fish finders and similar tools. It is important to read the rules before signing up for a tournament, and even more important to follow those rules during the tournament.
Aside from the human aspect of competition, there is also a greater sense of competition when it comes to man against fish. Many tournaments require that the fishing line used be lighter than the force that the fish is expected to apply. This makes it easier for the fish to break the line. You can’t just hook the fish and reel it in, you have to ‘work’ it in by using drag and tension. When the fish is running, you allow it to run with the line using the drag, and when it is not running, you reel it in a bit. The concept requires the fish to tire before it breaks the line.
There may also be rules about how a fish may be landed. For instance, some require the use of a game chair. Game chairs are mounted on the sterm of the boat. The angler sits in this chair, and the butt of his rod is in a gimbaled mount. Landing a fish from this chair requires a great deal of skill. The tournament may allow stand-up fishing, meaning that the angler stands up to land the fish, and is usually secured in the boat with the help of a harness. While this method requires a little less skill, it does require a great deal of stamina and strength.
Sport fishing can be an addictive sport, and it is not cheap. You will need rods, reels, lures, line, and other fishing equipment, as well as a boat in most cases. Just the equipment alone, without adding in the cost of the boat, can run as high as $25,000. Because of the high cost, many who are just getting into the sport use charter services, where the boat and equipment is provided for a fee.
There is a variety of bait that can be used for sport fishing. Many tournaments will specifiy which baits can and cannot be used. Typical bait includes spinners, streamers, spoons, lures, nightcrawlers, shrimp, oysters, wet and dry flies, crustaceans, and prepared bait. The allowed bait depends solely on the type of and size of the fish.