Disclaimer, I am not the best angler in the world nor do I think my processes are absolute. As any angler should, I learn every day I get to fish for bass. There are many ways to catch a bass and anglers all over the world have their methods which work well for them. This intro to breaking down new lakes will explain a couple of things. First, where my experience comes from, second why I decided to write this five-article series. As always, questions can be asked in the Ultimate Bass forums. Not only will I reply to the question, but the entire membership will also supply answers. This gives anglers a large scope of ideas to work with.
Intro to Breaking Down New Lakes
I was very fortunate as a child because my father was an avid bass angler. He started bass fishing at an early age on farm pounds in the very small, very poor city of West Union, Illinois. He enjoyed bream, crappie, or anything biting; however, bass and catfish provided more meat for the table. For this reason they became his primary focus. Fast forward to my father joining the Air Force and being stationed at Patrick AFB, Florida around the 1970 timeframe. B.A.S.S. was already taking a foothold, however, wasn’t available to everyone. My father and three other avid bass anglers started an organization many anglers knew as the Military Bass Anglers Association (MBAA). Through the years MBAA has changed hands many times, even engulfed into other organizations. When following the blood line of the current American Bass Anglers, one will find a napkin from a restaurant in Mel Borne, Florida. It was this napkin where these four anglers laid out the basis for the organization.
During my last National Championship, I learned about this napkin. The Championship tournament was held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake; close enough for my father to travel to attend the weigh-ins. After the tournament, I introduced my father to Morris Sheehan, president of American Bass Anglers. Surprisingly, Morris knew my father’s name from the napkin. According to Morris, the napkin is framed on the wall of the American Bass Anglers headquarters. Okay, enough with the g-wiz history.
My father introduced me to bass fishing before I was old enough to remember. I was fishing team tournaments with him at 8-years-old. By the time I was 14, I was fishing single events. Dad would drop me off with the boat and come back and get me at weigh in. When I was old enough to drive, I was given the keys to the truck and Ranger. To this day, I don’t know how dad had the courage to set such a young, inexperienced kid loose on the tournament world, but I’m glad he did. I was the angler of the year my first three years of club fishing; moving to circuit level tournaments didn’t slow me down either. However, the Air Force did. I spent nearly half of my Air Force career either stationed overseas or deployed to far away location. Commitment to tournament circuits was impossible. However, I fished as many open events as I could. Towards the end of my military career, I spent more time at home and was able to complete once again.
I have been asked by many members of Ultimate Bass to write an article about fishing new or unfamiliar water. I question my ability to provide a useful article; however, I decided to accomplish a series of articles using the following as my foundation of effectiveness. In the few National Championship events I’ve fished, I’ve always managed a top 10 finish against the best anglers in the nation, to include the local anglers who also qualified. High finishes tell me, my processes for dissecting new water have some merit to them and worth sharing. Whether it works for everyone, I don’t know. However, my experience is sure to give everyone an idea or two when visiting new waterways. These articles may even give anglers an insight into a new way to look at a waterway they regularly fish.
This series puts together some things I use to keep me competitive. Dissecting a lake is a long process for me with map study being the first installment of a multi-part series called – “Breaking Down New Lakes.” The first installment describes how I use electronic and paper maps, Google Earth, and my boat’s electronics before I even leave the house. Often I can find productive locations, cover, and brush piles before I get to the lake.
Next up the focus is on seasonal patterns. Yes, as anglers we are bombarded with the concept of seasonal patterns. However, seasonal patterns will put you on bass. I’ll describe how to use and manipulate these concepts based on lake composition for an advantage. Based on over 35 years of tournament angling, I’ve highlighted the most important and repetitive things I’ve learned fishing bass tournaments throughout the country.
The third installment in the series is all about bait fish. Knowing the primary forage for a body of water will put an angler light-years ahead of the others. In this article, I talk about various types of bait fish, their habits, and how to use them to find bass in any given body of water.
In the fourth article, I tie all three concepts together. With map study, seasonal patterns, and baitfish knowledge an angler can find and start catching bass very quickly. Lastly, I’ve closed the series with some final thoughts which didn’t fit in the series at a specific point. I’ve also added some thoughts on checklists to prepare for trips, both home and away. The intent of the “Breaking Down New Lakes” series is to help anglers get started on the way to winning a national championship on a lake they have never seen.
Get the Net it’s a Hawg