Have you ever noticed that whether it’s club tournaments, divisional tournaments (B.A.S.S. Federation, Red Man, Anglers Choice, etc.) and even the professional tournaments, usually you will see a hand full of the same anglers consistently winning money. Then while, you’re driving home after fishing some of these tournaments without much success you ask yourself, “what are these anglers doing so different than I am.”
There are many different reasons that these same anglers consistently cash in or place in the money fishing bass tournaments, and I hope to give you some insight on what keeps some of these anglers successful.
Bass tournament fishing is a very competitive sport. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry where more and more anglers are joining the ranks of the tournament competitors every day. With all these new competitors, as well as the already established ones, the competition seems to be getting tougher and tougher thus making it harder to stay on top, or consistently in the money. Now, there are several tricks of the trade or shortcuts you can use to give you the edge you need to eliminate a good portion of the field of participants. These will stack they cards in your favor when it comes to tournament preparation.
The first one we will talk about is:
1. UNDERSTANDING BASS: The better that an angler can understand his or her opponent the better or more successful he or she will be against it. One of the most important factors, when bass fishing is to understand what a bass does during different situations, and how their senses make a difference (taste, feel, sight, smell, etc.). There is much to learn about bass especially when you have to consider some of the following:
A. Water Clarity
B. Water Temperature
C. Water Oxygen Content
F. Daily Conditions
G. Pressure Changes
H. Weather Fronts
I. Natural Forage
K. Water Depth
The first rule of thumb, always keep in mind that a bass needs three elements to survive: 1. FOOD 2. OXYGEN 3. COVER
By understanding these three elements and by using them related to the situations or conditions listed above, it should help you begin the preparation for the prefishing period of a tournament and start putting a game plan together.
2. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TOURNAMENT WATERS: This can be done properly by first obtaining a map of the waters that you will be fishing. By understanding how to read a map related to bass fishing you can just about prefish that body of water just by knowing the channels, drops, humps, shallows, flats, depth, points, structures, etc. Then, by understanding the seasons, daily conditions, water temperatures, etc. you should be able to eliminate large amounts of water and key on the areas that would relate to the bass based on many different factors listed above. Another way to get familiarized with water is to hire guides or charters that fish these waters frequently. Now, depending on expenses it would be recommended to hire at least two different guides or charters on any given body of water. The reason for this would be to take the best of the two days to help find areas, patterns, etc. Being a licensed guide, as well as a bass angling instructor, I need to let the truth be known that there are very poor and very good guides on just about every body of water that holds larger scale bass tournaments. Another way to help to learn the water is to fly over the water. Go to the municipal or county airport in the area and find a pilot to take you up and fly over the tournament waters. This doesn’t cost very much normally, but you would be amazed at what you can see from the air that you can’t see while sitting on the water.
3. COLOR & BAIT PATTERNS: Probably one of the best ways to learn the color and bait patterns of any given body of water would be to visit as many bait and tackle retailers in the area as possible. Not so much to talk to anyone, but to look and see what baits and colors are being sold the most. If you visit several of these retailers you should be able to get a very good idea of what colors and baits to use pre-fishing, based on the averages of all these different places combined.
4. WATCH THE LOCALS: I’ve found some great honey holes in the past just by observing the locals. While you are on the water and see a boat sitting in one spot for a while, just move off in a distance and watch. Remember, some of these locals have fished these waters all their life and are not sitting in areas just to eat lunch! And, especially in the morning before you hit the water, try to find the local diner where most of the locals go eat breakfast. Many times in the past, I’ve got some great information just by eating at the same place at the same time and by sitting as close as possible. Many anglers like to brag! Just by sitting and minding your own, you can’t help but over hear these locals. They will talk between themselves about the 10 pounder they caught off of Truman Point using a Spook.
5. PUTTING A GAME PLAN TOGETHER: Putting a game plan together for a tournament and sticking to it, can make of break most of the anglers in the field. The biggest problem most anglers have when tournament fishing is not sticking to a game plan. Several years ago, I had the great pleasure and company of Shaw Grisby Jr. and his father over at my home for dinner. That evening, I asked Shaw’s father (a truly great and knowledgeable man) what he thought was the biggest problem as to why most anglers can’t seem to stay consistent? To which he replied, “they always leave the bass!” What he was saying was, that if you are in an area where there are bass, why leave? Give a spot time. Locating bass is the biggest part of prefishing, so don’t just give a spot a few minutes then leave. I’ve sat on certain spots for a couple of hours without as much as a bite, then all of a sudden they turn on and I’ve caught limits just by waiting them out. Also, when making your game plan, select an area where you won’t have to run miles and miles to secondary spots. Try to keep at least 3 or 4 alternate spots within a few minutes of each other.
As I mentioned before, being a Pro Bass Instructor, I’ve had several students in the past who attended my 3-day Bass Fishing School that just wanted to learn how to prefish for tournaments. By teaching them a better understanding of the bass, why it does things, when it does things under the different circumstances, how to put game plans together, showing them different techniques and patterns, teaching them colors, what proper equipment to use, how to locate bass, etc. these former students are some of these constant money winners. I hope that this article will help you in all your future tournaments and make you a more consistent angler.
If you may have any questions on any of the material I’ve covered, please dont hesitate to contact me at my Email address at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at any of my websites at: www.capital.net/~rlbrown or www.fishing-boating.com/basscoach
Until next time!…… Take Care & God Bless!
The Bass Coach
Roger Lee Brown