Finding bass in an event keeps most bass tournament anglers up at night. We have all had that dream of the “perfect” spot. Anglers will study the same topo map for hours at a time looking for the invisible X that will mark that spot. In reality, the map does not come with the X. If it does, every John Q Angler has the same map. That also means the 20 guys in your club are running to those spots to check them out also. The best way to find the invisible X is to get out and start fishing. There are many reasons that you want to find these overlooked hotspots, but three of them are the most important.
Sometimes things happen during a tournament day, which keeps you from getting to your fish. Heavy rain, wind, fog or boat trouble can kill the best made tournament plans. While other anglers are stressing about what to do, you are calm because you were able to find an area close to the launch site. During practice don’t be scared of a good looking spot because it’s close to the ramp. Chances are most anglers looked past it because it was “to close”. Lots of tournaments are won every year within a couple hundred yards of the ramp.
Your fishing strengths should help you decide where to fish during a tournament. As anglers once we are out of our comfort zone we lose confidence. Without confidence, you might as well stay at home. Make a pre-tournament check list of your fishing strengths. The list should be numbered 1-10. Work your way down this list during your pre-fishing time. I am very comfortable fishing shallow grass as my first choice. If I see an area that has shallow grass and no one fishing, I am going to stop and fish. You might find a winning pattern that everyone else in your club missed.
To me the biggest reason to find the overlooked spots is. You have found unpressured fish. I am much more at ease when I know that I am the only one fishing an area. We all know that, unpressured bass are easier to fool into striking our presentations than bass that have seen tremendous angler traffic. You won’t be constantly switching baits to keep ahead of the fish. We all hate the feeling of trying to fight other anglers off the best areas during the day. Plus we can sleep better at night knowing there is not someone else sore mouthing all our fish.
Many bass clubs hold one or two travel tournaments a year. This is a great way to test your skills on other water. After a few years of traveling to the same spots, you will start seeing one thing. Many of your anglers will be fishing the same areas and the same fish as each other. At the end of your practice day, ask two questions. Were you fishing around everyone else? Are you able to get a limit in your areas? If you can answer no to the first question and yes the second. You have found that invisible X on your map. There is only one thing left to do at that point. Have some fun!