By Jeff Little
The ice is gone. It's tournament time. While many weekend kayak anglers simply sign up in order to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow fishermen, serious competitors strategize to win. Matt Eikenberg, the 2014 Mid Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament Series Angler of the Year, explains his successful approach to competition. While Eikenberg's comments refer specifically to smallmouth and largemouth bass, some of his techniques are universally applicable, whether competing in fresh or saltwater tournaments.
Winning isn't Everything
Consistency is the most important aspect to series fishing, according to Eikenberg.
"If you're competing in a series, you may not win every event, but you need to place as much as possible. I only won one of the tournaments last year, but I earned points at every event."
Down for the Count
Eikenberg says that simply getting a limit of fish will keep you in contention in many cases.
"I'm always looking to get my limit first. I get numbers, and then I'll go for the cull. My mentality going into these tournaments is to get your limit, then go after the bigger bass. Some people do the opposite, or they just swing for the fence for the whole tournament. I have never done that because I know that I am going to place well with a limit."
Monsters or Minnows?
Size does matter, according to Eikenberg.
"If I'm consistently catching 14- to 16-inch fish, and I know that's all that I'm getting on that bait, it's time to switch to a larger bait to target bigger fish."
Fish with Confidence
Like most fishermen, Eikenberg has faith in certain lures and techniques, and falls back on them in times of trouble.
"I personally prefer finesse fishing. My confidence is in finesse. I'll start my day power fishing, but when nothing works, I end up slowing down with something finesse."
Improvement Starts at Home
"Focusing on my weaknesses is important. Tidal fishing isn't my strong point. I need to understand how tides can turn on or off certain spots."
Matt Eikenberg lives in Elkridge, Maryland. He is the Assistant Sponsorship Coordinator for the Mid Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing Series (http://makbf.blogspot.com)