Here at Dock Talk 365, we interview anglers at different stages of fishing. Some have just started the sport, some have been fishing a lifetime, and others are avid tournament anglers. Today’s interview is with Paul Tsigaris from Ontario. While Paul didn’t just start tournament fishing, he did just finish his first year on the FLW Canada Series. He had a very successful year setup by his consistency over the season. Paul fills us in on the details of how he approaches competitive fishing.
When did you start tournament fishing?
I started tournament fishing about 4 years ago but didn’t really take it seriously until last year when I decided to fish the FLW Canada Series.
What do you love about competitive fishing?
The thing I love most about competitive fishing is that I can control my own destiny out on the water. The harder I work and the more effort I put into researching the waters I am fishing the better the chance I have at putting up a good result. I don’t have to worry about what other competitors are doing or how they are catching them. I just have to focus on my own game plan and make sure I execute. I also can’t leave out the feeling you get when you drill a 5 plus pound smallmouth and it clears the water….that will get your blood flowing!
How would you grade out your 2016 tournament season?
I would say I would have to give it an A-. While I didn’t outright win any tournaments, I cashed numerous cheques and finished 3rd place overall in the FLW Canada Series. I place a lot of emphasis on consistency. If you are consistent over the course of a year, the wins will come. That’s not to say that I don’t swing for the fences and try to win every tournament but I certainly don’t beat myself up in a game of what is usually ounces separating me from 1st place.
What are your 5 most proud moments from this year’s tournament season?
I don’t know that I have 5 but if I had to list my most proud moments this year they would be:
1) The first one might seem odd but it was committing to tournament fishing: I don’t just mean showing up on tournament day. I mean actually studying the lakes from top to bottom and dedicating the time to pre-fish and figure out fish patterns to put a winning game plan in place. If you want to be successful you have to commit to it whole heartedly and this is something that I thought I was doing in previous years but this year I took it to a whole new level.
2) Fishing with a new partner: Having a year full of successes is difficult but to do it with a new fishing partner is that much more difficult. You have to figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and find a way to make them work. Everyone has a particular skill set, a way they like to position a boat and even the way they fight or land a fish. If you want to be successful you have to know how to deal with this while making sure you don’t compromise the way you fish.
3) 4th place finish for the FLW Rice Lake event: As I mentioned before, this is often a game of ounces and fish don’t always cooperate. I look at not just the overall result but whether or not I had the opportunity to win an event. And despite it being heart breaking to not win, I was equally as proud of our result because we could just as easily had won it. On day one, we weighed 18.5 pounds but lost two fish that would have upgraded us by over 4 pounds. Seems ridiculous given the weight but I saw two of the fish we lost and they were legitimate tanks. On day two we weighed 21.5 pounds and again we lost a couple of fish that could have pushed the weight closer to 23 pounds. Knowing that I had a game plan in place to win the event makes me proud….not being able to execute it is frustrating but it’s all about consistency for me.
4) 22nd place finish on Lake St Francis: I am sure nobody brags about coming in 22nd in a big tournament like the FLW but I am pretty proud of the finish. The reason is that I had never been on the body of water, nor had my partner and to say the least it’s intimidating. It is deeper than any lake we normally fish on tour, has way more current and is quadruple the size of any of the bodies of water we fish. Combine this with the fact that the weather wouldn’t cooperate with us during pre-fish and you have the perfect storm to come in dead last. I really felt overwhelmed by the sheer monstrosity of the lake and just to figure out the current took us a few days so I am quite proud of this finish.
5) Our 3rd place overall finish in the FLW Canada series: Given that it was, what I would consider to be my first real year of serious tournament fishing and coupling it with the fact that I was fishing with a new partner, I am overwhelmingly proud of this accomplishment. We were consistent in every event and to do it against such a strong field of competitors is a feat and an achievement that I am very proud of.
What are some what if moments you had this year?
With the exception of one event we executed our plans really well and our hook up ratio’s were off the chart, rarely losing a fish which is quite a feat considering I fish for smallmouth 80% of the time. If I had to pick a moment though it would be the Rice Lake FLW Canada Event. If we hadn’t lost the few fish I just talked about I feel like we could have come out of the event with a W. The sad part is these were fish that either could have been netted or fought better.
One of the smallmouth tanks we lost mishandled during the netting process, my fault, as I prematurely rushed to net the fish and knocked the hook out, catching it on the netting. Another one was just poorly fought because the line snapped from applying too much pressure and not giving the fish the respect it deserved. I don’t think either of us knew how big it actually was until it got close to the boat. Nobody is really to blame in these instances and as long as you learn from your mistakes then you are growing as an angler but you still can’t help but imagine “what if”.
What is your favorite tournament body of water?
Rice Lake, without a doubt. It is a fairly big body of water and it can produce monster bags. I am primarily a smallmouth bass guy and if you can get dialed in on this lake you can put together a 20+lbs bag of smallies. I have had a lot of success on this lake and even when I have a day off this is my go to lake. Having said that if you don’t know how to dissect a large body of water like this you are in for a long day.
What is your east favorite tournament body of water?
Lake Scugog beats me up all the time. This is actually what I would call my home body of water and I love it at times but when it comes to tournament day it always seems to get the best of me. I think the biggest problem for me is I over think this lake a lot because I have so many spots to fish on it. It is sometimes easier to put a game plan together on a body of water that you have never fished than one you are on all the time.
What are your 3 greatest strengths as a tournament angler?
1) Electronics: Being a smallmouth fisherman, I have learned that you need to understand not only how your electronics work but how to get them dialed in on each body of water. Electronics are fickle to say the least and you need to know how to adjust them properly to get the best results. At times I feel like I could find a dime on the bottom of the lake when I really get the Hummingbird working right
2) Confidence in my finesse fishing: I see a lot of anglers using line that is way too heavy to finesse fish. I think it has a lot to do with the fear of losing fish. If you are confident in the way you fight them you should be able to get down as low as even 6 pound or even 4 pound test. It might seem like overkill but I have found it can make a big difference when fishing clear lakes where the fish are often pressured.
3) Boat position: A lot of anglers make the mistake of moving too close to a spot and spooking fish. You have to know exactly how to position your boat, taking into account wind, water clarity and the spot you are working. I see guys catching fish and a minute later they are on top of the spot. You have to have an understanding of boat positioning or you will burn the water before you have worked the spot for what it’s worth. As insignificant as it seems this is probably my greatest strength and likely the one that makes me most successful.
What is one area of fishing that you want to improve in 2017?
My culling process is an area that I need to improve on. Time is everything in tournament fishing and when the bite is fast and furious sometimes you neglect the fish, don’t get accurate weights or end up costing yourself a lot of time that could be avoided. To become more effective at this I plan on doing a lot of research over the winter which will involve using the internet and talking to other pro’s that I am affiliated with through my sponsorships to find the most effective way of tagging fish when they are caught and managing their health. Not only is it important to bring in healthy fish so you’re not penalized at an event but as tournament anglers we have an obligation to make sure that we are helping maintain the fisheries.
Who are your sponsors?
I currently have two sponsors. Ardent Outdoors and The Fear Fishing Company who have both added me to their pro staff and I couldn’t be happier to be on board. Ardent Outdoors offers a whole line of both rods and reels that are reasonably priced and can take a beating. My favorite is by far the Apex Elite because you can cast it a mile and bully the fish to the boat when you have to.
Fear Fishing is an important sponsor to me as well. As I mentioned, I committed to being on the water a lot more this year and with it being as hot as it has, their UV40 performance jersey helps me survive long days in the sun. It’s light and breathable and keeps me from getting scorched all summer long and looks cool…..check out the heather blue color.
With Paul’s approach, I am confident that his 2017 season on the FLW Canada Series is even going to better than his first year. I will be following his results on Instagram.