One of the most important thing about winning fishing tournaments is the mental aspect. Particularly at the top level of tournament fishing, all the competitors have strong fundamental bass fishing skills, so what separates the guys that are just competing from the guys that are consistantly cutting checks and finishing in the top 12? Brandon Palaniuk suggest that the mental part of tournament fishing is what ultimately separates the "good" from the "great" and the deciding factor for who will win out where skill levels are similar. As KVD once, "A positive attitude and an open mind are true characteristics of all good fisherman". Brandon shares a story about how hard-headedness ended with a horrible tournament finish last year and how to combat getting stuck in one mindset.
Another important mental aspect is dealing with losing good fish. A good fish can often be the difference between cashing a check and going home empty-handed. Brandon talks about breaking down the circumstances losing a fish and determining the right decisions to make moving forward. What can an angler focus on that's positive instead of focusing on a fish that was lost, and assuming that also lost the tournament. Often those big fish leave us with a feeling of "that was my only shot", or "that was the one good bite I've been waiting for". Being mentally defeated like this is the first step to also being defeated in the tournament. Brandon has some great tips on questions to ask yourself to get out of this funk after losing a big fish in a bass tournament.
Success, in general, is largely mental. Brandon also shares some of his personal history and how staying mentally focused allowed him to come from humble beginnings to achieve success in competitive bass fishing. Brandon new early on that he wanted to fish for a living and from childhood, he was saving money for a bass boat, which he was able to make a downpayment on when he was 16. He went on to win angler-of-the-year and a couple of Elite Series tournaments. He attributes a lot of his success to mental toughness. Setting goals and being driven to accomplish those goals.
Tournament preparation, is one of the most important stages of mental preparation for success. Palaniuk stresses the importance of doing your homework and how that helps to build confidence when it comes time to locate and catch fish. He talks about how to specifics of preparation for a tournament, including what part "dock talk" plays, dietary considerations, managing distractions and more.
Brandon talks about how he mentally prepares for success on his ride to the ramp, and before the tournament launch. He talks about how to handle different success/failure scenarios concerning your first spot in the morning. Failure to catch fish at the first spot is often when an angler's tournament begins to unravel, learn how to handle striking out at your first spot. Changing conditions and various circumstances throughout the day can also rattle the nerves of tournament anglers. Palaniuk talks about addressing things that are within your control, and handling things that are out of your control.
You may think that your mental state after a tournament is of no consequence. There are important aspects to consider about your day of bass fishing, once it's over, but there are mental pitfalls as well. Learn from Brandon which things to take hold of and consider and what things to leave at the dock.
"You have to do it because you physically and mentally can't live without it" - Brandon Palaniuk