Early summer tournament fishing is some of the most consistent fishing you will have for the whole year. First and foremost fronts are a rarity this time of the year. The summer crowd is not yet out in full force. The skiers and personal watercraft pests are just now showing up. The high winds that have plagued us all spring are quieting down now. What does all this mean to the tournament anglers? It means if you find some fish now or establish a pattern, more than likely it will hold for you until your tournament.
Okay, Lets approach your tournament coming up next weekend. What's your favorite way to fish? Yeah, it will work this time of the year. More than any other season, early summer will mean the biggest spectrum of patterns available to the tournament angler. Later in the year topwaters will usually work only in the mornings, but now they'll work sometimes for the whole day.
When you have a tournament coming up and you're pre-fishing or practicing, remember that your pre-fish days can win, or lose, your tournament for you. It's the most important part of your tournament. Find the bass now and they'll more than likely hold for your event.
The other important aspect to remember is that not all the fish will be deep or shallow, some will be in both places and some in between. What you need to decide is where the biggest bass are. Of course that's important in every tournament, but more so now than any other time of the year. The bass will not be schooled up in large numbers in deep water like later in the heat of the summer.
The patterns you determine will be stable and hold for several weeks. You just have to remember that you need to keep an open mind on your biggest fish and where they might be. In keeping an open mind, don't be afraid to fish deep early, or even shallow late. The heat of summer hasn't arrived yet, so lots of bass will be shallow all day. Lots of times the biggest bass in your catch will come shallow later in the day, but don't forget deep also. I've had some great catches in deep water.
A great example of the spectrum of patterns available to the tournament angler was a Pro Team event held on Lake Ray Roberts (Texas) before the slot limit went into effect during the month of May several years ago. At the time I was still guiding full-time, so I was pretty well locked into what my fish were doing. I had several schools located and would only check them with two or three casts, once or sometimes twice a week, to make sure that they hadn't moved on me. And sure enough these fish didn't move for three weeks prior to the actual tournament.
To make a long story short, this tournament had some really amazing catches starting with first place. It was five bass that weighed over 40 pounds, and they didn't even win big bass. My partner and I came in fourth with over 30 pounds. That's right, we had a 6-pound average and still came in fourth. The winners caught their bass flipping and pitching worms to timber on a 7-foot hump and we caught ours Carolina rigging French fries in 25 feet of water on a ridge.
This was a prime example of how many different patterns are available to tournament anglers in early summer. So when your next event comes up, more than any other time of year, keep an open mind on where the bass might be and how deep or shallow they'll be. Find them now and you'll have them there when your tournament rolls around.
Good luck and God Bless.
Bill Wilcox is sponsored by Ranger Boats, Yamaha Outboards, MCMC, BG Products, Pro Rule, Johnson Fiberglass, Brown's Automotive, Continental Batteries, Kistler Rods, Swamp Hog Lures, Strike King Lures, and Fun-n-Sun Sports Center.