By Andrew Tate
You’ve got only a few things on your mind, not overdue homework, not the storm moving in that evening, not how many boats are going to show up to this particular event, just worried about this tournament and what it’s going to take to make the final day weight cut. If you’ve been around the game long enough you hear it all the time, “It’s probably gonna take thirteen a day to get you in.” Depending on everyone’s practices the weights always vary from competitor to competitor. One thing that doesn’t vary is the situations, and I’m not talking about on the water. I am referring to the moldy hotel rooms with crusty bed sheets, the greasy food that more than likely causes more harm than good if you know what I mean, and the moments when you realize you may not have enough oil to make it where you’re going. We never skimped out on important things like bait selections or better fluorocarbon, but you best believe we did when it came time to book a hotel room.
College fishing is a tight knit group of anglers that want nothing more than to make it. Of course there’s a few in the sport who participate solely for the good times and the ability to miss some classes while doing it, but most dream to be the next young gun to make the jump and become a true professional. Coming from the college ranks myself I personally have witnessed just about every type of scenario that could happen at a tournament. Falling off a dock into freezing cold Kentucky Lake water trying to hop in a partner’s rig, having boat trouble but not having the cash with you to fix it, only having enough fuel to explore a certain part of the lake, the list goes on and on. By now you understand that the large majority of these guys are not taking baths in Benjamins, on the road you’re lucky if they bathe at all, and yes there’s a few. We could’ve all used a couple extra hundred bucks a season to put towards these type things, but were we worried? No. We just wanted to catch 4 pounders and bring home a trophy to show off to our non-fishing friends.
Floating around out there like blown out hydrilla are these things called Contingency programs. You hear about them in pre-tournament meetings, but let’s be honest very few people pay attention in those. Nearly every boat, rod, truck, and accessory company out there has a program. You simply use their product that more than likely you already have, sign up for the program and that’s it. We all know that in fishing if it’s your time to win, it’s just your time. As financially comforting as a win is for everyone, we’re always looking for a way to stretch that paycheck a little further. That’s where these programs show up as a golden opportunity. For example, if you run a Triton boat and you have a Power-Pole on the back that qualifies you for two different company’s contingencies. Between the two of those depending on the tournament size and boat you run you could win in upwards of five to ten thousand extra dollars. Skip out on buying another Megabass jerkbait to replace the one you cracked against a causeway, and do yourself a favor by signing up for a contingency program. Most of these programs subscription fee is around thirty dollars, which is peanuts compared to what you can win. Of course there are some that hover around one hundred to enter, but remember you get what you pay for. The next time you’re sleeping in an uncomfortable bed with two of your teammates, eating Beanie Weenies with a Ben Parker spoon for dinner, or looking for dollars between the seats for gas, think back to the last tournament that you placed high in and realize the money you missed out on. We all made memories during the years of collegiate bass fishing, but I know that having a little extra spending money would’ve made things a lot easier. Who knows what that extra cash could’ve turned into? I guess this is where the saying “Hindsight is 20-20” comes from.