It’s early April. You open the tide chart and are looking ahead not one week or two, but seven. You check the high tides and the lows, the moon phase and everything that can be predicted many weeks from today.

Now, scrolling around the calendar, what tides look similar to those dates? Find something almost exact and it’s time to get out on the boat and scout, finding those big tournament fish. This is the incessant nature of a tournament angler.

Tournament victories do not happen at random. Anglers who do their homework by spending time on the water to find fish year after year and where they may go with last minute changes will consistently catch fish.

As much as one will try to schedule out exactly where to be and when for certain fish, that seldom happens. Having backup plans to your backup plans that come through for that one or two big fish can often mean the difference between being handed a check or hoping for better results in the next tournament.


When the time to go arrives, the adrenaline hits and the throttle is hammered down, the difference between victory and defeat can often be just one fish. Have you prepared so you’re bringing the back the winner, or talking to deaf ears about the one that got away?

This year’s schedule is full of tournaments for every angler. Manatee and Sarasota counties will play host to events that are sure to bring out the weekend warriors as well as the multiple champions who have their next four months planned out. Tournaments range from multi-day, offshore, multi-species marathons to half-day, inshore, single-fish shootouts.

Next weekend, the Palmetto High Athletic Booster Club Fishing Tournament will be held from the Palmetto Boat Ramp. The tournament is presented by Coastal Exteriors benefiting Palmetto High School football.

The tournament will start following a Friday night captains meeting at 6 p.m. and fishing will conclude with a weigh in Saturday from 12-2 p.m. The single biggest snook, redfish and trout combination will be used to define winner payouts as well as winners in each individual category. More information can be found at

Later this month will be one of my favorite local tournaments, the Sticken Pigz Red Trout Slam on April 22. The half-day tournament takes the combined weight of a redfish and trout to determine winners from the Palma Sola Causeway Boat Ramp. It’s a quick, fun, low entry fee tournament that is as much fun as it is competitive.

As the spring pushes on, the big mutli-species slam tournaments will be back starting with the classic Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament May 19-21. There are some drastic rule changes that will be taking place for this year’s event. The Fire Charity June 9-11 and De Soto July 7-9 will compile the big three six-fish tournaments in Bradenton.

Other tournaments like the Triple Crown Bill Fish series and Kiddie Pool classic will be returning with dates TBD. Keep up with all the local happenings at

This article originally appeared in the Bradenton Herald on April 1, 2017.