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TOURNAMENT ANGLERS: How do you practice for a tournament?

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This is for boaters and non-boaters. I know the non-boaters practice can be somewhat limited but please chime in anyway.

What is your plan? How did you come up with that plan? What do you do first?  Etc....

Let's hear it.

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Non-Boater:  Call up the guy that you guarranteed with and tell him that you will pay for the gas in the boat and the truck and make plans to pre-fish sometime before the tournament.  $$$$ is a great motivator.  

This also helps because you practice very similliar to how the tournament will play out i.e. limited tackle, fishing from the back, and if going out the weekend before, very similliar weather and water patterns.

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I fish non-boater in tourneys, but if I would practice as a boater I have an idea of how I would go about it.

For non-boater I like to get a feel for the water and what the dominate techniques may be for the specific time and for the body of water. Sometimes I would throw a word or two in about places that we should check, but I mainly follow along fish and get a sense of whats going on.

For boater it really depends on the water size and season. If it is a large body of water 15,000 acres or more I will try to eliminate a lot of the water. An example of this could be focusing in on the warmest water for springtime. I am trying to learn how to eliminate water due to season. If it is a smaller body of water I will spot check a lot more, but for large water I feel like more time prefishing is better then running all over.

I tend to slow down more which is probably not the right way to do it. I know most people just use search baits, but I don't have as much confidence in them.

I have a lot to learn about prefishing so I am excited to hear some responses. I would like to know how you work different depths in the springtime or how you prepare for changes. I would also like to know what you throw. Do you cut the barbs and tips off of hooks on your trebles so you don't stick fish?

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Unknown body of water

#1 Check NOAA weather every day for 3 days prior to; the weather will determine what areas

#2 Study a Topographic map finding all structure in those areas

#3 Spend the day searching the structure with depth finder & GPS likely spots

Know body of water

#1 Check NOAA weather every day for 3 days prior to; wait for opening morning

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My game planning starts a week prior, intensifying as time progresses with a high percentage of that plan played out in my mind.

fishfordollars and I made plans on Friday May 1st to fish Wednesday May 6th and Thursday May 7th. Saturday and Sunday I began getting my brain in gear by sending Jack pms getting the two of us fired up while adjusting my tackle for post spawn/early summer patterns. Today Monday May 4 I've re-spooled/lubed reels, check NOAA weather's forecast for the week, checked Sabine River Authority for the lake level and generating schedules.

I've replayed past outing in which I've had success while keeping in mind past outing in which I bombed; this puts me in the frame of mind to deal with any scenario come Wednesday morning.

By tomorrow I will be in the zone with all negative thoughts replaced with the reinforcing wisdom of experience and aggressiveness. I will have selected at least 5 target areas, 3 techniques, and will be chomping at the bit.  

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Boater:

I fish my strengths, and look for areas that I can do that in.

For example, had an open tournament yesterday (which we ended in second place ;)). I've been on this lake for several weekends for opens and club tournaments.

Take off yesterday.....my partner asks whatya wanna do? I tell him to go up the shoreline 300 yds and stop. He looks at me all funny, says "you serious?" Yep.....as a heart attack. So, we stop, I jump up while getting beat around by boat wakes, fire out a lipless crank to a rocky flat shorline. In 10 casts I boated 4 keeper fish. When the boat wakes stopped so did the bite.......I had 4 fish in the box before most of the boats were to their first spots.

My point? I like to run and gun and target active fish, when the conditions permit, so that's how I plan my days. Weather and type of lake plays a part in deciding how I'm fishing of course. If I can crank, jig fish, spinnerbait fish, or run an area flippin and pitchin, that's what I do until the fish tell me to slow down. Yesterday I had to slow down in the afternoon and really be methodical, but still covered fish holding areas. The bite slowed....alot.....but from 1:00 PM till 2:00 PM the sun was high and I culled 3 times by making repeat and rapid pitches to multiple targets.

In prefishing I look at weather forecasts, then look for areas that I can run my style and strengths. In a nutshell that's about it....

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Unknown body of water

#1 Check NOAA weather every day for 3 days prior to; the weather will determine what areas

#2 Study a Topographic map finding all structure in those areas

#3 Spend the day searching the structure with depth finder & GPS likely spots

Know body of water

#1 Check NOAA weather every day for 3 days prior to; wait for opening morning

Catt will you throw a line in during your prefishing days on the water?

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I generally only do my homework in spring time or when I'm on a big body of water. If I'm fishing docks/wood shortly before the T I will bend in the hooks of my jigs to try to walk the fish to the side of the boat to see its size. Around this time of year I won;t even have any rods on the deck and will just cruise around looking for fish while prefishing. I find if you know a lake well you are better off just not prefishing and go with your gut once you are out there.

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Most generally no; catching fish on Monday will not tell me anything other than they were biting on Monday.

On an unknown body of water I'm more concerned with getting to/from each area and then back to the launch. Once I've made my selections I'll run them as many times as it takes to feel comfortable running them in bad weather; while a GPS will show me where to go it does not consider weather conditions.

I want a clear picture in my mind in case conditions are less than ideal and I have to make adjustment on the fly ;)

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As a non Boater get in contact with the boater and see what his strengths are, whether he will be on deep structure or hitting docks all day. Watch the weather, find reports on the lake you plan to fish and see what was working the past few years. And thats about it, I wont drive all the way to the lake to fish a few days for a small club tourny.

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Catt, I, and others are fishing Wednesday and Thursday.

Last Friday:

I pulled out all past fishing reports

Pulled out four different maps of Toledo

Set up the Weather Channel for frequent reports on my Dish

Made copies of the areas we are going to fish

Traced in the contour lines on five different copies of areas.

This always keys me in on spots that I may have over looked that I want to check out.

Sunday:

Stripped all the reels I am taking

Rearranged Plano boxes for summertime(Offshore) fishing

Checked water levels in all batteries

Plugged in charger

Hand traced another set of map copies

Loaded accessories that may be needed in the boat.

Picked up new set of plugs for the Mercury

Two hours of map study

Today(Monday) to do:

Map study

Check the weather

Re spool all reels

Wash the boat

Put the wife on airplane

Punch in the coordinates for Six Mile Boat ramp

Load the chips I want in my GPS units

Twiddle my thumbs and go over everything one more time.

Call Catt and bi%&h about having to wait for 2:00am Wednesday morning to come.

Tuesday:

Check weather

Map study

Go over everything one more time

FYI, if anyone thinks I am exaggerating about the map study you are wrong. It has saved my bacon so many times.

First day of prefish:

I will pick an area of the lake to concentrate on and start fishing areas taking in the prior week's weather, time of year, and any information I have received. I am not concerned with catching any fish, just getting bit. I never stick a fish on plastics and bend down the hooks on a crankbait. Spinnerbaits will have something to cover the hook point.

I usually start in known areas but move through them quickly. If I have located any fish I will get the map out and see how many other areas within a reasonable distance I can locate and then I will move through most of them to check out the water condition and if they hold any possibility of producing. Many times this means just eliminating unproductive water.

If the fish are on the main lake points I try to check as many as possible. If I can get bit on every third point this tells me I will have to cover at least 15 points during the day to get the five I need. I will always start out deeper on a point and fish the sides and work my way up to determine at what level the first bite will come. If it is between 8-12 feet I begin to concentrate at that level on each point. This cuts out a lot of water I do not have to fish and keeps me moving.

I will pick out 3-5 creeks and try to fish them a quickly as possible and determine if the fish are in the outer third, middle third, etc. Somewhere along the creek I hope to locate them and when/if I do it cuts down the water I will check the rest of the day.

Humps and ridges offshore are my favorite places to fish. If I can find any fish at all I will concentrate on them as they have very little pressure and with the deeper water nearby they are not affected by fronts as much as the shallower fish.

Day two:

    Depends on day one. If I feel I have enough fish located I will go back and try to learn as much as possible about the areas  and decide where to start and how to procede through the day.

    If day one was a bust I will pick another area and start over. It will be either up lake or down depending on water color, prior weather, time of year, etc.

Sorry for the long post.

Jack

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Sorry for the long post.

No need for apologies, this thread is intended to be a "go to" type of thread for anyone looking for prefishing pointers and strategies. I feel like if you're lucky enough to get practice time before a tournament, you should make the most of it. Hopefully this thread will help some members do that.  

Lots of good stuff here so far, let's keep it going.

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Sorry for the long post.

No need for apologies, this thread is intended to be a "go to" type of thread for anyone looking for prefishing pointers and strategies. I feel like if you're lucky enough to get practice time before a tournament, you should make the most of it. Hopefully this thread will help some members do that.

Lots of good stuff here so far, let's keep it going.

I started not to post all the things done even before hitting the water, but I feel it's as much a part of anyones success as actual time on the water. At least it is for me.

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I have a hard time doing off the water map study. From a map I can't see vegetation, clarity, temperature, or fish activity. I can only pick out obvious things like humps, breaks, or points. I can somewhat relate where the fish will be by season. After that I can't relate where the fish will move depending on the weather trend and such. That is beyond me.

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im assuming this is for people who have not fished a lake much. I just got my boat so i fished as a nonboater for a few years, first if I legally can I will call the people who i know will be willing to share info, then I go to a topo map and on a shallow lake a google earth, this is because you can nomally see points, grass lines, and where grass is on google earth or some thing of that type. Then i will find out if there has been any grass killed, water lowered, or rised. I then call my partner and see if he has done any fishing on that lake lately. I will also deside on what baits to rig, and what else i might need. I also call the people I know might need some one to practice with and see if they want to go out and fish.  

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Its starts with sacraficing a small goat. LOL. Just try and go a week before and fish like normal. Just try and fish where and how i like to catch them and adjust from there. If i dont get a chance to fish prior to the tournament, just find water that i am comfortable with and fish presentations that i have confidence in on tournament day. If i had more time i would probabley do a better pre-fish but i just do what i can.

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Its starts with sacraficing a small goat. LOL.  

I like to make 72 virgins bathe in the blood immediately following the slaughter of a large bull.

Hey whatever works....you and Jimzee are 2 for 2  ;D

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Its starts with sacraficing a small goat. LOL.

I like to make 72 virgins bathe in the blood immediately following the slaughter of a large bull.

Hey whatever works....you and Jimzee are 2 for 2 ;D

Well now isn't that great. Where am I going to find 72 virgins at penn state... >:(

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im assuming this is for people who have not fished a lake much. I just got my boat so i fished as a nonboater for a few years, first if I legally can I will call the people who i know will be willing to share info, then I go to a topo map and on a shallow lake a google earth, this is because you can nomally see points, grass lines, and where grass is on google earth or some thing of that type. Then i will find out if there has been any grass killed, water lowered, or rised. I then call my partner and see if he has done any fishing on that lake lately. I will also deside on what baits to rig, and what else i might need. I also call the people I know might need some one to practice with and see if they want to go out and fish.

Actually, I will study the lake maps from the lakes that I fish a lot more so than the ones I am not familiar with. It keeps me from fishing memories and forces me to look for cover/structure that I have never fished.

I find by tracing out the contour lines I develope a spot or two that I have overlooked or just did not take the time to check out. While treating an old familiar lake as a new one you increase your chances of success. Some produce, but many are just a waste. Several of the newer areas I have taken the time to check have replaced a few of the older ones I thought were the best. In fact, two new areas I checked the last 3-4 months have become my favorite starting points.

Speaking of maps, I try to locate as many from different companies that I can. They all show different quirks and I will use them to locate a new area. You would be surprised how the different mapping companies will draw up an area.

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Its starts with sacraficing a small goat. LOL.

I like to make 72 virgins bathe in the blood immediately following the slaughter of a large bull.

Hey whatever works....you and Jimzee are 2 for 2 ;D

Well now isn't that great. Where am I going to find 72 virgins at penn state... >:(

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Its starts with sacraficing a small goat. LOL.

I like to make 72 virgins bathe in the blood immediately following the slaughter of a large bull.

Hey whatever works....you and Jimzee are 2 for 2 ;D

Well now isn't that great. Where am I going to find 72 virgins at penn state... >:(

LOL try the local TKE frat house. lol Booooo teeks

AZO haha

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