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Pre-fishing poll

4234 Views 30 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  imonembad
I hate to pre-fish the day before a tourny. I think this sore mouths the fish you need on tourny day. I have cut off hooks not set the hook and all that jazz but the bottom line is I seem to lose track of the fish I find on the day before or they won't bite. Does anyone have any input or maybe want to share any secrets? thanks, Drew
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That is a great question. I haven't ever participated in a fishing tournament and would love to know the answer to your question as well.
to be honest... I'm TERRIBLE at pre-fishing. The reason is simple... I cant stand not being able to set the hook on a good fish! lol
I was prefishing for a tournament down here, on Santee Cooper in SC a few years back. It was called The Calcutta. My buddy and I were spending half the day checking spots he was interested in and half the day checking spots I was interested in. Well we pulled up on one of my spots which was a shore line to an island that bordered the main river channel. The shallow water had a few scattered cypress trees and hydrilla surrounding (back when Santee had grass *sniff sniff*) There were nice pockets in the hydrilla and the edge of the hydrilla bordered water that was in the mid 20 foot depths, which in Santee Cooper, is very deep water. Well to me this was a prime spot for some nice fish! Atleast on the map it looked perfect.
Anyway we pulled up and I tossed out a Zara Spook into a pocket in the grass. I let it sit about 10 seconds then I gave it a couple quick twitches to start it walking and KABLAMMMMMMMMMMmmmmm the water exploded. I KNOW I was supposed to not set the hook and just let him spit it but when I saw how big the explosion was, I just couldnt resist setting the hook. It ended up being nearly 7 1/2 lbs. My buddy was ticked at me for setting the hook on it lol I was like "hey man, let me see you NOT set the hook on such a nice fish!" LOL

Fortunately it didnt matter for the tournament because Santee winds got up so bad that it was too dangerous to get my buddy's 17 foot stratos back to that area during the tournament.   :sad01:
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So, my point exactly you should have worn them out when you had the oppertunity. I just can't seem to get into catching them when I know there is nothing on the line and I have something coming up that I'll need them for.
I think if you prefish a week ahead of time that you should be good for the tournament. I tend to think prefishing the day before the tournament could be bad. Id rather try and see what the fish are doing the week before the tourney. I feel by doing that I will have a good idea whats gonna be happening the following week during the tourney and then if need be, adjust for the difference in weather.
I think if you positively determine what seasonal pattern the fish are in and find them then come tournament time they shouldnt be far off of your area.
Of course, I also thinking putting together a B and even a C and D plan is a good idea too... just in case. ;)

I think, if you are allowed on the water, the day before the tournament, you should use it just to run around and see what your spots look like, see what the water temps are, the water clarity is, where the baitfish are etc... check to be see if things are still the same as when you found your fish or if they have changed so you can be prepared when the time comes. Now, mind you, I have never had the chance to be on the water the day before a tournament except but once for the SC state BASS Federation championships on Lake Hartwell back in like 97 or so. However that time i was on a boat with a buddy and the places we visited i never saw again. I had a different boater for the tournament and we went to completely different waters. So what I say Id do the day before the tourney is just an "IF I could" sorta deal ;-)
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My partner this year doesn't like to do his home work and we have had this difference all year long. I like to do exactly like you a week ahead of time and set some paterns. My partner wants to go the day before the big tourny and figure them out. This has not worked and has caused some what of a riff between us I am in 2nd place in the AOY and he is at the bottom. I do'nt plan on fishing with him next season. We are friends and have been for some time and I think he will understand. I have just had a hell of a time finding a compatible partner. I have fished with some awsome anglers and still I just can't find the right fit for my style. Does this make since or does it make me sound like the biggest jack ass of all time? I fished quite a few by my self and I really liked it except its not always economic. I am basicly my number one sponser if you know what I mean. Aren't 12 hour shifts awsome? Can't sleep so you spend all night rambling on about anything! See Ya, peace out Drew
Nope, you dont sound like a jack ass at all. I've been paired up with so many different style anglers over the years I can completely understand what youre saying. Its been rare that I have been paired up with an angler who I felt was fishing the way I like to.

And yes 12 hour shifts rule lol Though tonight was a little busier than Id have liked lol Tomorrow night is my last 12 then Im off for 4 days :)
I just got kicked out of my 12 hour position( a re-alinegment and now i'm on 3-11pm it blows. I was on it for three years and my sleep is all kinda of whacked. I got a four day weekend and am fishing three of them. A high school buddie was killed in Iraq last week and his funreal is on friday so that is gonna suck!! The whole ordel has changed my oppinion on our involvment over there but thats a different topic. I got the skinny from the FLW tourny seems my shallow bite might be there. We have a big 200 boat tourny going out this weekend and you know that that deep water bite that Dion was on last week is gonna get pounded. We are on Pomme de terre on day one and Lake of the Ozarks on day two so I'm going for the fence on day one since traffic should be of a minumum. The Ozark fish are beat up so many big tournys in the past month. later, Drew
While I am not a tournament angler... there doesn't seem to be much point other than getting some general scouting and familiarity to the water. Fishing conditions can and do change so quickly. However, as I tend to fish smaller waters, I have caught fish in the same spots and areas for days at a time without any impact. During certain times of the year bass seem to "reload" or refresh on certain structure/cover. For example, one spring I found a beaver hut on this lake where I would catch 3-4 bass out of...I would fish elsewhere for 20-30 minutes and return to catch another 3-4 bass out of the same thing and repeat.

I kind of imaging that if/when I fish tournaments that I would spend the pre-fishing day to scout around and make decisions on what type of equipment and tackle that I would need to properly fish the tournament. Try to find what colors work - get a good guess on what the fish are feeding on. I think I would also like to utilize one of those Aqua-View cameras to analyze underwater structure and cover in various spots in order to put together a solid pattern and to make notes and mark various GPS points. All of which that could be used in the future and down the road...
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Im not a big fan of ' pre-fishing ' the day before. For example, lets say you did pre-fish the day before and found fish in an area. A storm or something comes through that night and messes everything up. Finding those fish may prevent you from leaving that area.

( This happened to me earlier this year.. The guy I was fishing with had found fish and we had had a storm hit the night before and pounded that area and he refused to leave it ...... we had 1 bite between us both the whole day )
JW, How are you going to attain all that info with out pre-fishing? Beaver huts rule they have always been a favorite of mine and there will be big fish on them too. Fish, That is my take on the pre-fishing also I hate to do it the day before altho I went today and stayed off of my main stuff but I didn't do real well and now my confidence is shakin a little but tommorow is another day. gone fishin, Drew
In response I said most of the day would be scouting out various areas and making notes on them, very detailed notes, trying to plan ahead and accounting for various changes - sometimes the weather man gets close to being right. I guess what I am trying to say is: In my mind I don't see this idea of "pre-fishing" as pre-fishing it is more or less "pre-planning" and time on the water developing strategies. While I realize it is not possible to account for every variable on the water during a tournament the idea would be to develop a plan to handle fronts and other anglers fishing in "my honey hole (s)." - If I knew a big rain was going to come in, I would look at the shoreline for signs of runoff areas - places where fresher water is going to poor in, signs of how high the water may rise and what cover would be fishable if the water did get that high. I am talking about attention to detail and making notes - including GPS way-points. Just imagine how useful and valuable such notes would be for future use thoughout various seasonal patterns....
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I hear you brother I know what you are telling me I just want to see that person who does not fish for a living go to the lake and just look, its the hardest thing in the world to do. The only way to do it would be leave your rods at home which in turn would be crazy to waste a day on the lake with out your fishing rods. I pre-fished on friday and stayed off of my main plan and tried to figure out a back up which didn't work out to good. Luckily my plan and patern held out and I didn't have to go into panic mode. Bottom line is once again if it works for you who cares what every one else does. Right? see ya Drew
OK! Jim and Tom, Help me out will you? How is the correct way to prefish?
imonembad said:
OK! Jim and Tom, Help me out will you? How is the correct way to prefish?
1. Know the seasonal period and how that affects the basses location and preferred prey. Check the water temperature. This gives you a good starting point. Check the water clarity at the marina and look for signs of baitfish or bass near the marina.
2. Determine the lakes classification and find out if it is a power generating facility. If it is a highland or hill land type power generating lake, then find out when they generate. This is important know as current will determine the bass locations and activity level.
3. Know what type of bass to target for winning weights.
4. Fish within your skill level and use presentations that you are good with. Avoid fishing someone else's skills. Learn new presentation on your off time on the water, not during a tournament.
5. Study the lakes topo maps or your Navonics GPS maps and make up way points for the areas you believe should hold bass at the time you will be pre-fishing.
6. Survey the areas that you predetermined on the maps with your sonar and keep an open mind for anything that see on the water that fits your skills. For example if you see a blue heron standing on the bank watching for fish and its close to where you believe bass should be, check it out.
7. Catching bass is only necessary to confirm what you see on the sonar are bass and one bite will do that for you.
8. Putting together a pattern. You can only pattern fish if you know the location of the bass and what they are feeding on. Similar structure with similar cover at the same depths will or should hold bass at several locations on the lake. That is why you need a map and way points to the nearest location from the one you have located active feeding bass on. More than likely someone else will be there before you, then go to the next similar location.
9. Check the weather and moon phase so you know what to expect in regards to wind and rain and activity times.
10. Avoid dock talk and try to keep what you have learned to yourself. Tournaments are not won by people who share information before the event.
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Thanks! How close to the show do you try to put your plan into action?
Tom certainly outlined some very important key elements, so I'm going to take a very simple approach to pre-fishing. First a little make-believe here. You are a 20 year guide on your home lake. You have folks booked about 3-4 days a week for several weeks straight. So do you take off for some much needed rest those other 3-4 days? Nope. You follow the fish every day. In effect you are pre-fishing for an event that means money to you. The key word above is "FOLLOW".

Now back to reality. You have a regular job and fish tournaments when you can. No way can you "follow" bass, even the day before a tournament, right? Wrong. You observe what Tom wrote, some of which is season-long procedure, but do whatever it takes to tune yourself up for the big day. So what's more important today? Getting some bites? Or finding bass? I say find the bass the same way a guide often does it. He doesn't wish to sore-mouth bass meant for his clients, either. The guide has a big advantage over you, the weekend warrior, maybe never having fished his lake before. Find the bass and take note of every detail possible about where the bass was. Other bass will be in similar places around the lake under the same conditions. Finding bass on a strange lake is a step towards following bass daily. The difference is you followed that one day. Whoever follows the most often does the best, why local guides in a tournament are often highly favored to win. The fellow not only followed bass daily, but slipped off to alternative places to confirm bass were NOT over there. That frees his mind to focus on the places that DID have bass to follow. It can be tormenting to keep thinking you ought to be over there instead of here. You get there and regret leaving here. Guides don't bother themselves with that on their lake, and pros stay pros by conquering that uncertainty problem. They know where to go and not to go. You do the same as much as you can.

Pre-fishing one day, especially only the day before is to me risky since conditions can change and leave you with no clue where the fish go under different situations. If the tournament is over a weekend I think it's highly advisable to fish at least one weekend before the event. I'd plan to do that way before considering pre-fishing the day before (probably a Friday). Where do the bass go under high pressure? Do they stick around ramps where nobody fishes, or go to the least obvious places nobody ever fishes? What happens when the wind is out of the N, S, E or W? How is it with every cove and other good looking spot taken up by locals all day Saturday?

Use pre-fishing crankbaits/spoons/ etc. with hooks bent in. Keep some trebles on hand already bent for pre-fishing. Not many lures will swim right if you clip hooks too much reducing the weight and balance. A bass will bite it and if you can handle tournament level fishing you will know a bass bite. Often they will hold onto the bait right up to the boat. Just the feel of the fish ought to be very familiar. I usually know the difference before seeing the bass. Wipers sometimes fool me. A catfish might go for a crankbait, but by now you ought to know the feel of a cat. But how many times have you caught those when bass fishing? You know the Frenchy surrender of a pickerel. Get that telltale bite feel and let it go. Immediately assess the spot with sonar. Were there more with that one? Exactly where was that fish when it hit? Did bass follow the lure in? Mark that spot, and look for other places like it. That to me is finding a productive pattern. It might not work other times of day, or on the big day. But it's the best information you can get.

One last comment comes to mind for now. You might not call yourself a worm angler. But I recommend becoming a novice worm angler at least just to pre-fish to locate bass. It doesn't require becoming a Larry Nixon level worm angler. You can always return to catch them using your confidence lures on the big weekend. I don't know of a better all around search bait that can be fished without a hook more effectively. Most any bass will swallow a hookless plastic worm whole and keep it until it breaks surface. They love to eat worms with big hooks too. I've had to bring pre-fishing bass into the boat to extract a hookless worm sunk deep in the stomach. Rig them with slip sinker as usual, but tie on a hook shank with entire hook bend removed. Slide the shank inside the worm, bury the line eye, then taking a piece of 80# mono spear it through the worm, through the line eye, and out the other side of the worm. Melt the tag ends of the mono to make buttons that will hold the worm on. Cast it, flip it, pitch it, but don't set it. Let a bass take it, swallow it, then ease into a fight. Remember, all you want is to get that bass feel. If you can get it close enough to see it, all the better. Once you do that, you have confirmed all your scouting to have led you to a bass. It'll likely still be there when you need it, wanting that worm back.

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Thanks Jim and Tom, My questions have been answered. I have just been leaving my favorite area alone untill the big day and trying to add other good spots to go with it. This year I have been fishing a group of three docks in about eight feet of water. It continues to produce fish even last week. I have caught a boat load of fish off of this spot this year. I can't figure out why the fish are there. It is a nothing looking spot with no deep water access it does have a lot of cover not much structure. I have fished it alot over the years but it has never produced like it did this year. I hope it never quits but when it does I gonna have a hell of a time not going to it and checking it every time I'm on the water.
Having a VARIETY of cover in an area like that would make any bass happy to find it. The vegetation plus the shade of the docks is perfect, no structure needed, no escape route needed, no deep water needed. They are secure there. The docks shade the weeds to create more open zone under them where a bass can slam a bream. The bass have their tunnels under the weeds to come and go unseen.

Without docks the next best 'cover-only' area I'd look for is irregular hydrilla mixed here and there with a patch of peppergrass, or maybe some reeds, or a tree top that floated into hydrilla. "Different" is one of my favorite words to remember when fishing.

Then, if the cover is all the same I find it best to find some struture that breaks it up, adding the 'different' back in.

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