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How we organize a Kayak Fishing Tournament


As one of the founding members of the Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Association based out of Pensacola Florida, I am often ask about assisting others who want to put on a tournament. The experience our organization has gained over the years continues to grow as does the need to maintain a professional staff who can manage such a large undertaking like a kayak fishing tournament. The number one thing that people seem to misunderstand is the amount of effort and time that is required. We are often ask how long does the planning and preparation take? For us we have found that more than one major tournament a year is not in the best interest of our sponsors, volunteers, or staff. But requests for more tournaments are what our local anglers continue to want. For us it is a balancing act, we also have obligations to our friends, members, and sponsors to support other activities like rigging clinics, vendor kayak demonstrations, and our two overnight camping trips. These are just a few types of things that need to be considered when you analyze for your organization.


We spend anywhere from six to eight months talking with potential sponsors asking what we can do for them in return for their support. We have found many sponsors have specific requirements when it comes to supporting organizations in return for their goods or services. We offer advertisement on our website (all electronic media, i.e. Facebook ), and at the awards presentations the sponsors like to have photographs taken for additional advertisement with their product being distributed to the various contestants (to include items in the Captains Bags).  After the tournament there are even more tasks to consider, tasks like responding to our sponsor’s requests, sending thank you letters, and publishing the results along with the many photographs. Our sponsors may request information like statics on kayak brands and colors or the demographics of the anglers.  This helps them define their target audience for future advertisements and sales.


The following are some of the basics organizational processes that need to be addressed when you consider holding a tournament. This list is not indented to provide a step by step check list for organizing your tournament! As a minimum you will need to have volunteers, prizes, rules, officials, facilities, a method of registration, and advertisement.
BASICS:

    1.) Obtain volunteers and establish an event oversight committee. Determine who has the skills and or abilities along with the desire to accomplish each task.

    2.) Choose a tournament date, do your research and make sure the date does not conflict with other event in your community. This includes but not limited to any required facilities. Check the forecast / predictions for the weather or fishing conditions (wind, tides, water temperature, and moon phase).

    3.) Establish a schedule of events & requirements: What will be needed to accomplish each task by date & time.  For example:  When are the rules needed, when and where are the organizational meetings, when does the registration open / close, when do you need to  start advertising.  The check list can be extended as needed for sub-components for example:  When will the prizes need to be staged for distribution (Note Vendor, Value, and Award category). What is to be discussed at the pre-tournament meetings (Items to be discussed at the Captains Meeting, i.e. Safety, Rules…). But let’s not forget to list other requirements you may need like; PA system, scoreboards, scales, weight in station, master event clock, computer, and maybe software applications & databases.

    4.) Determine a tournament budget, based on sponsor’s donations, registration fee, facility fee, advertisement fees, and any / all additional cost.

    5.) Create the Rules: Decide if the tournament is to be a team or individual event.  If a team event; what is the number of teams, brackets, or divisions. Make sure the size of the event does not outnumber the available volunteers and can operate within your budget. Define what species with be allowed and what prizes will be awarded (example first through third place will be awarded prizes for each category).

    6.)Contact the State and local agencies that oversee the facilities, fishing & boating regulations and obtain any necessary permits and as needed insurance.

    7.) Order any items you may need based on the schedule of events (identified in step 3) like medals, trophies, T-Shirts, and printed material that may require time for production and delivery in time to meet your deadline, allow extra time for any unforeseen problems.

    8.) Advertise; create flyers, posters, and web pages. Create a mailing / emailing campaign.

    9.) Reserve the officials you will need to support the tournament, for example local referees, photographer, weigh master, master of ceremony, and trophy girls.  Continue to verify availability and have backup plans.

    10.) Determine if the tournament is to support contestants outside of the local area, check with the local hotels, campsites, and restaurants for availability and possible discounts.

    11.) If you are providing food and drinks: who, what, when, where, how, and how much? Remember the budget!

    12.) Determine who will manage post tournament feedback, (both positive and negative) statistics, press releases, thank you letters, photographs and other data requested by sponsors, participants, and or members.

 

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