Time Management For PrefishingTime Management For Prefishing Managing time on the water is critical during a tournament. Here's how to maximize it.
By John Neporadny Jr.
Managing time on the water is critical for Bassmaster Elite Series competitor Terry Scroggins during a tournament.
Yet when he is prefishing for a tournament on unfamiliar waters, the Florida pro likes to take his time to get a better feel of the area. “I am a little more laid back,” Scroggins says. “I don’t get out there at the crack of dawn because it is an unfamiliar place and I want to be able to see where I am going. I am really there to see how to run the lake and see the layout of the lake rather than go there and fish it. I do a lot more riding around than I do fishing.”
Scroggins admits he rarely needs to prefish for Elite Series events anymore since he has been to most of the bodies of water on the Elite schedule. “That really helps out a lot because you know how to run the lake and all that whereas if you go to a lake you know nothing about it is going to take a day just learning how to run it,” Scroggins says. “A lot of places we go to the channels are well marked but if you go back into a bay or something that is full of timber it might have some secondary channels that you don’t know anything about. When you go to a lake and you had never been there you also need to go a couple of days ahead just to learn the town and how to get around and find out where all the ramps are.”
When he scouts unfamiliar waters, Scroggins spends two to three days on the water depending on the size of the fishery. “Most of the time if you do a lot of riding and not that much fishing in two days you can pretty much cover a lot of it,” he said.
The amount of time Scroggins spends looking at his electronics depends on the type of water body he is prefishing. On a river delta system where the best fishing is usually shallow, Scroggins spends most of his time riding around looking at the layout of the land. But on deep lakes where he knows offshore structure will be the key to catching fish, the B.A.S.S. pro spends more time watching his electronics for humps, ridges and drop-offs.
Since he knows his competitors all have “souped-up” Navionics and LakeMaster maps to find deep structure, Scroggins looks for something different. “When I go to a lake and have extra time I try to find that place that is out-of-the-ordinary that nobody else might find because you know that anything on that map is going to get fished,” he says. “These guys are good and they are not going to miss it. It very rarely happens that you find something that is not on the map, but when you do it is a goldmine. “
During his prefishing Scroggins breaks a lake down into thirds and tries to cover a section each day. The five-time B.A.S.S. winner admits he has a bad habit of wanting to know the whole lake. “That gets me in trouble sometimes because it is just too much water to cover,” he says. “You can actually learn too much on a body of water to where you can actually get confused. I’ve seen a lot of tournaments where the guys don’t know a whole lot and they just stick with a certain area because they don’t know anything else—and it really pays off big time for them.”
The type of fishery Scroggins prefishes determines how much time he will actually wet a line there. “If I go to a lake that has a lot of flipping cover and shallow water stuff that you have to fish to find them, I will fish a lot more than I if I was at an offshore structure lake where I can see the fish on my graph and know that they are there,” Scroggins says. “All I have to do then is come back and catch them a month later.”
Scroggins depends on his prefishing time to become familiar with a lake rather than researching on the web. “I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants and I know that gets me into trouble sometimes,” says Scroggins.
The 11-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier checks web sites to find out how much weight it takes to win tournaments on the lake he will prefish, but he avoids the “dock talk” in the fishing forums. “I know where I live that the guys who really catch them don’t put anything on the Internet,” he says. “They want to keep it a secret and I am sure it is that way everywhere you go.”
The official practice days the week of an Elite Series event is when Scroggins is on the water from daylight to dusk. That’s when Scroggins tries to put together patterns based on what he discovered during his prefishing time.
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