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RobbyZ5001

Prefishing

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When you prefish will you try to find a bite for different parts of the day?

For instance if it is mid summer will you try to find an early top water bite, a mid day bite on the points, and a late day bite in the weed beds?

Will you look into a variety of areas so if you need to make adjustments tournament day you have a feel for those areas?

For instance this past weekend I had a college tournament in Indiana. It was a huge warming trend and the 5 day went as follows 59-63-83-85-89. We prefished on the 85 day and found fish on main lake points and some cuts on the wind blown shoreline. We also had a few bites back in a stained creek where the water temperature was significantly higher. We estimated we could have caught 9-10 lbs in the tourney day. We slowed down fished the main lake points and some cuts thoroughly and had nothing. Not until about 1230 did we go to that shallow creek. In the shallow creek we caught some keepers and missed a good one flipping shallow wood. If we would have went straight to the warm creek we probably would have pulled a good limit for the day. We did find the creek and just didn't go straight to it because of bad judgment.

Any thoughts or strategies on prefishing are welcome.

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When you prefish will you try to find a bite for different parts of the day?

No, not usually. If you have a productive and successful practice you'll be on a bite good enough to last all day long.

Will you look into a variety of areas so if you need to make adjustments tournament day you have a feel for those areas?

Yes. Scouting 'different' areas is important whether you are trying to locate similar water to run a pattern you've discovered or just get a feel for unknown areas, like you said.

Whenever I get practice time on a strange lake, I look at a map and decide which areas fit into the seasonal time frame that I'm fishing. This eliminates most of the lake. If you discover a pattern in one of your spots, the next similar spot you check should get smaller. Lets say you go into a creek and you've got 4 big creeks marked on the map to scout. In the first creek you go down a bank full of laydowns and it transitions into a rip-rap bank, then into a string of docks. You catch fish on the rip-rap but not on the laydowns or docks. Then you fish some more rip-rap banks in the same creek and catch more fish....well, the next creek you scout, you can ride right by the docks and laydowns and head straight for the rip-rap banks. Thats what I mean by your areas getting smaller. You eliminate stuff until you're down to one thing that works all day. That's what a pattern is all about.

Once you've established a pattern, its always good to try to devise a back up plan in case the weather turns on you. This involves the same areas you marked on the map (because now you know fish are in there), you just have to find another way to catch them. If the weather turns it's doubtful the fish will just totally vacate the area, especially if there is deep enough water nearby.

Once you get onto something (find fish) in practice, its a good idea to start switching baits, colors and presentations. It will help you fine tune your pattern.

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All I do is fish water I have never been on so it is always a new adventure. I think that is the best situation for a new angler is to be thrown to the dogs basically. Be put in a tourney 6 hours away have 1-2 days to prefish and try to find them.

5bl I have heard that spring can be the most unpredictable time of the year to pattern the fish. Do you agree with that statement? Which season do you think is the easiest to pattern?  

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All I do is fish water I have never been on so it is always a new adventure. I think that is the best situation for a new angler is to be thrown to the dogs basically. Be put in a tourney 6 hours away have 1-2 days to prefish and try to find them.

I agree, and sometimes I do better if I don't practice at all. Just glance at the map, ride around until I find something that looks good and go fishing.

I have heard that spring can be the most unpredictable time of the year to pattern the fish. Do you agree with that statement?

I do. There are so many variables that affect shallow fish in the spring. Deeper fish (summer, winter) aren't affected as much as shallow fish. The water temps and levels are fluctuating daily, weather is very unpredictable, water is often stained or downright muddy, fish coming in trying to spawn, fish going out, fish going everywhere but not really doing anything that an angler can key in on....this is especially true when the bucks are making beds and the females are waiting on just the right moment to move onto the bed. Sure, you can pick off buck bass all day long but I don't really consider that a 'pattern'.

Which season do you think is the easiest to pattern?

I'd have to say winter is the easiest, then summer. In the winter, if you find the major concentrations of shad (which isn't hard) the bass will be there. You've basically got two different baits that will catch them on almost every trip in the winter.....jigging spoon and jerkbait. Leave the rest of your tackle at home.

In summer, the fish locations are very predictable but there are so many different baits and presentations that you have to weed through to get a bite. Once you start getting bites you can load the boat in a hurry though. If you can nail down that one bait and color they want, it's on!

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When you prefish will you try to find a bite for different parts of the day?

No, not usually. If you have a productive and successful practice you'll be on a bite good enough to last all day long.

Will you look into a variety of areas so if you need to make adjustments tournament day you have a feel for those areas?

Yes. Scouting 'different' areas is important whether you are trying to locate similar water to run a pattern you've discovered or just get a feel for unknown areas, like you said.

Whenever I get practice time on a strange lake, I look at a map and decide which areas fit into the seasonal time frame that I'm fishing. This eliminates most of the lake. If you discover a pattern in one of your spots, the next similar spot you check should get smaller. Lets say you go into a creek and you've got 4 big creeks marked on the map to scout. In the first creek you go down a bank full of laydowns and it transitions into a rip-rap bank, then into a string of docks. You catch fish on the rip-rap but not on the laydowns or docks. Then you fish some more rip-rap banks in the same creek and catch more fish....well, the next creek you scout, you can ride right by the docks and laydowns and head straight for the rip-rap banks. Thats what I mean by your areas getting smaller. You eliminate stuff until you're down to one thing that works all day. That's what a pattern is all about.

Once you've established a pattern, its always good to try to devise a back up plan in case the weather turns on you. This involves the same areas you marked on the map (because now you know fish are in there), you just have to find another way to catch them. If the weather turns it's doubtful the fish will just totally vacate the area, especially if there is deep enough water nearby.

Once you get onto something (find fish) in practice, its a good idea to start switching baits, colors and presentations. It will help you fine tune your pattern.

Bingo

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When prefishing, a normal day would have 3 bites I'm looking for.    I'm gonna use a lake that has no vegitation, is old, tons of docks and retaining walls for an example.

Early morning, which means topwater or sub surface,  I'll concentrate behind the docks close to the walls.      I'll throw small baits to locate active fish.    I'll throw something else to determine if a bigger bite can be had.    Catching 20 fish barely legal or short fish don't win on of my waters.

    Next, is after the sun has gotten up, I'll back out to the first break lines, which maybe docks and work those till mid morning.

    From there, I back off the docks and hit the 10,000 brush piles that owners have put out away from thier docks.

      If you get bit off retaining wall early, you might try other areas of the lake with the same patterns.    

     You never know how many boats will be fishing on Sat, tournament, pleasure, bank fishermen, or dock owners fishing from thieir docks.    

      You never know what number you will have drawn, you could be on the same pattern as half the other guys, and they beat you to your first two spots.

     Prefishing should give you alternative patterns, locations, and most of all, help you locate the right fish to get in the money.

     If you catch 15-20 in a tourney, but only manage a couple of keepers, then you need to change your area.    Catching is nice, but on tourney day, catching keepers that put you in contention is the name of the game.

       And if you go to the same area all the time and get the same results, its time to do something different, move deeper, or find better fish.

 

   

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Great responses above.

You have to recon the body of water to prepare for the tournament.

I do not prefish as the bass move and what is good today can be terrible tomorrow.

It is important to select a two to three mile radius and study that part of the lake or river before a tournament.  I also will throw a Carolina rig with a tungsten weight to try to find stump fields and rock bottoms.

The fun is outsmarting the bass on the days you tournament fish.

Remember, if the weather changes the bass will probably move from where you caught them while prefishing.  :)

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