As I have pointed out before, tournament bass anglers are a strange bunch. We are constantly trying to outsmart, over think and over complicate how we should be catching fish. Growing up as an athlete, baseball was a sport that I truly loved, and to be good at it, took practice and lots of it. A lot of time spent in a batting cage, taking ground balls, catching fly balls and working on base running. As someone once said, “practice makes perfect.” But in bass fishing, that’s not always the case. You can spend or waste a lot of time practicing and catching fish days before an event only to have to disregard everything you put together due to a major change in weather. So many times, in my fishing career, I’ve had to adjust or abandon my game plan for a tournament. Which brings us to the question, “Is pre-fishing a waste of time?”
Well, my first reaction would be “yes” but then I think back over time how important my practice time was for me having a high finish. But so many times due to variables out of my control like a front coming through, high winds, temperature change, heavy rain, the lake rising can all contribute to a change in fish behavior. Mother Nature and what she can throw at a bass angler, can be brutal. But just like any other sport, bass fishing is a game of adjustments and sometimes due to how we caught them during our pre-fishing time, we tend to try and force the fish the bite the way they did in practice. This is major mistake when you’re competing in a tournament because bass are worse than women, they are constantly going through mood swings. (Sorry ladies)
For me the benefits of pre-fishing are getting out on the water and checking out the areas of the lake you want to fish. Looking at watercolor, is it muddy, stained or clear; what’s the water temperature and seeing what the bass are relating to. Are they on wood cover like cypress trees or maybe brush tops and laydowns off the bank? Are they in vegetation like hydrilla or coon tail moss, are they under lily pads or our newest invasive species of aquatic vegetation… Salvinia?. Are they on boat docks? Are they in the backwater or on main lake points? Now most of these questions can be answered basically by what time of year it is as to where the bass should be.
As you can see, bass fishing is more science than luck especially for a tournament bass angler. But the time you spend pre-fishing or practicing, can be crucial in determining when, where and how you will catch them on tournament day. But this is where a word that I used earlier comes into play, adjustments. Bass fishing is a constant game of adjustments and the angler that does this the best on tournament day, will be the most successful. More times than not, the conditions in which you found fish in practice, will not be the conditions you face on tournament day. So, is pre-fishing a waste of time? Well, the time of year has a lot to do with this in that with spring fishing, there are constant weather changes and fronts are more frequent making it hard to plan too far ahead for a tournament. But during the summer months, the weather is a lot more stable, and the fish are a lot more predictable as to where they will be. The fall can also be pretty easy to find fish in that bass tend to migrate up the creeks this time of year.
As you can see, pre-fishing can have it advantages. It all depends on what time of year it is. To hear more fishing tips, tune in to Tackle Live every Monday on our Facebook page at 12:30 CST as we discuss the latest news and tournament results from Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn and other great bodies of water found right here in the Ark-La-Tex region. Until next time, don’t forget to set the hook!! – Steve Graf