Three basic differences separate recreational and tournament fisherman.
First, the mental. Recreational fishing means there is little pressure to catch numbers or specific size although the goal is obviously to do both. Catching is a huge bonus to a fun day outdoors but not required.
A tournament fisherman has pressure to find big fish. Competition immediately adds a factor of pressure from practice time through the final minute of the tournament. A tough bite is the ultimate challenge to staying mentally focused and positive.
The second difference is physical. A recreational fisherman can go as slow or fast as they want. A trip can be a simple two hour trip or a run-and-gun ten hour chase. When weather is too windy, hot or cold it can be moved to another day.
A tournament fisherman has to get in the wind, rain, cold and heat. Practice is required and tournament days are scheduled so weather doesn’t make a difference. Five hard days of practice and tournament fishing can be physically difficult with many miles of travel, lack of sleep and hours fishing in the elements.
Number three is economics. A competitive national tournament fisherman needs a big boat for safety and stability. It requires a big rig to pull it. Electronics, equipment and tackle can lead to a very large financial investment.
Recreational fishing can be as economical or expensive as desired. Fishing smaller, snag-filled waters are great for a small boat. One good jigging pole, a few baits and trolling motor is all required to catch fish. As waters increase in size the boat size, electronics and equipment for open water tactics increase. However, it’s up to the fisherman the level of seriousness.
Recreational fishermen enjoy the sport at different levels. Tournament fishermen enjoy the thrill of competition. Both choices can be fun based upon seriousness and goals. -TH