I was very fortunate to be able to interview Chad Brauer last week and we talked a little bit about something that is very important to a tournament angler, prefishing. I personally have always debated with myself about how to effectively pre fish for a tournament. So with the chance to interview a great tournament angler like Chad Brauer I selfishly picked a topic I wanted to learn more about.
“Brauer, a member of the Evinrude E-TEAM, runs an 250 H.O. E-TEC engine on a Ranger z520 boat. This year, he’s been an active contributor on EvinrudeETeam.com , an Evinrude blog dedicated to giving anglers tips, tricks and hints on how to catch more fish and spend more quality time on the water”.
First I would like to thank Mr. Brauer for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions with some great information. I learned from his answers and I hope you will too. Here is what we talked about in a Q&A format.
1) Do you research the tournament waters before you get to the lake? If so how? Google Earth, notes of things you found previously?
I do research any body of water before I go there to fish. I usually start by going through my notes of that lake from previous trips and articles that I have saved about it as well. This may give me some ideas of productive areas to start or patterns that may work. Next I will move to study the contour map and the weather patterns that have occurred over the past few weeks. This should give me an idea of water clarity and the direction the water temperature has been moving. All of that will play a part in techniques I will start with as well as areas that I will start looking for more aggressive fish.
2) Some Elite anglers have said they communicate with other anglers and share information and/or patterns, does the Evinrude E-TEAM do this?
I have always been a big believer that in order to win tournaments, you need to be able to locate your own fish and figure out how to catch them yourself. If you are relying on info from someone else, you always seem to be one step behind the bass and will have a mediocre tournament at best.
3) Once on the water, what things do you use to help you start looking for a pattern during tournament practice?
There is no simple answer to staring to look for productive patterns on the water. For me it is all about locating the bass, then you can adjust how you catch them according to the conditions on that day. I will always start with techniques that I have confidence in for the habitat and conditions I am facing on the lake, and I will stick with them for pretty much the entire day unless conditions change. These may not be exactly what the bass want but I know I will get some bites doing them to locate some fish, then I can adjust what I am doing accordingly to try to catch more bass if I feel it is necessary. A good example is early spring and sunny with clear water, I will use a Chameleon Crawfish colored jig knowing I will get some bites and determine where the fish are located (i.e. bluff banks in the backs of creeks or main lake points) then if it gets cloudy and windy I can fish these areas with a jerkbait or crankbait as the fish may get more aggressive.
4) How much effort do you put into finding out what the fish are feeding on? “Match the Hatch” is this a must or are particular seasons more important than others.
I do not spend a lot of time finding exactly what the bass are feeding on but I make an effort to know exactly what is available to them before I go to the lake. There are times when it does make a big difference by matching exactly what the fish are feeding on at the time, especially in clearer water, but bass are opportunistic feeders and will seldom turn down a meal if presented to them when they are in a feeding mood. If you can find the aggressive bass, it should not matter as much to exactly match the prey with your bait.
5) Once you have established a pattern, how do you go about finding more water that fits the pattern? Time is never on your side, so do you use topo maps or would you rather cruise the lake and actually look at it?
I do both. You can locate potential areas with the topo map, but until you see them first hand, you do not know for sure if they are what you are looking for.
6) Once you have found new water that fits your pattern, how many fish will you catch on it and what are you checking for, size and/or numbers?
It really depends on the fishery. If there is a lot of water to choose from, I will spend more time fishing new areas trying to establish which have the best fish, but if there is not much of what I am looking for I will simply locate it and save it for the tournament. You cannot win practice, so catching bass then is useless, save them for the tournament days.
7) Do you put a time limit on new water? 20 minute – 1 hour
It depends on the conditions. If I feel conditions have been stable or are good for aggressive bass I will try to cover more water and try different things. If conditions are tough like after a cold front with bluebird skies, then I will give patterns more time because the lack of bites is probably due more to the bad mood of the bass than my techniques or areas.
8) I know many fishermen will only prefish during tournament hours, believing that late day fish can’t help them. Do you believe in only fishing tournament hours?
I practice from daylight until dark. Locating bass is my number one priority for practice and is does not matter what time of day I find them. I always adjust my techniques to fit the conditions no matter what, very seldom can you catch bass the same way for several days in a row, just finding them is what is most important.
9) What are your favorite prefishing search baits?
This really depends on the habitat and conditions of the day. I really try to analyze the cover as much as possible during practice and fit my baits to attack that cover the most efficiently during the tournament.
10) Let’s say it’s early November and the water temperature has fallen to 58 for a morning temperature. If you could only have 4 rods on deck, what would they have on them?
Jig in a color appropriate for the water clarity, spinnerbait, buzzbait, square billed crankbait
Again I would like to thank Mr. Brauer for his time and sharing some great infomation with us.
Get the Net, it’s a Hawg