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Bass Tournament "Shortcuts"
by "The Bass Coach" Roger Lee Brown

Have you ever noticed...whether it be club tournaments, divisional tournaments (B.A.S.S. Federation, Red Man, Anglers Choice, etc.) and yes, even the pro tournaments, usually you will see a handful of the same anglers consistently "in the money" most of the time. Then while youíre driving home after fishing some of these tournaments without much success, you ask yourself, "What are these anglers doing so different than I am."

There are many different reasons for these same anglers to consistently "cash in" or place in the money while fishing bass tournaments, and I hope that I can help to give you some insight in this article on what keeps some of these anglers successful when it comes to tournament fishing.

Bass Tournament fishing is a very competitive sport in a multi-billion dollar industry where more and more anglers every day are joining the ranks of the Tournament competitors. With all these new competitors as well as the already established ones, the competition seems to be getting tougher and tougher thus making it harder to stay on top, or consistently in the money. Now, there are several "tricks of the trade" or "shortcuts" you can use to give you the edge you need to eliminate a good portion of the field of participants. These can seem to "stack-the cards" in your favor when it comes to tournament preparation. The first one we will talk about is:

1. Understanding Bass The better that an angler can understand his or her opponent the better or more successful he or she will be against it. One of the most important factors when bass fishing is understanding what a bass does during different situations and how the scenses make a difference (taste, feel, sight, smell, etc.). There is much to learn about bass especially when you have to consider some of the following:

A. Water Clarity G. Pressure Changes
B. Water Temperature H. Weather Fronts
C. Water Oxygen Content I. Natural Forage
D. Vegetation J. Colors
E. Seasons K. Water Depth
F. Daily Conditions L. Structures

The first rule of thumb ALWAYS to keep in mind is that a Bass needs three essential elements to survive which are:

  1. Food

  2. Oxygen

  3. Cover

By understanding these three elements and by using these three key elements related to some of the situations or conditions listed above should help you begin the preparation for the "pre-fishing" period of a tournament and the start of putting a "game plan" together.

2. Next, Familiarize Yourself with the Tournament Waters. This can be done properly by first obtaining a map of the waters that you will be fishing. By understanding how to read a map related to bass fishing you can just about "pre-fish" that body of water just by knowing the channels, dropoffs, humps, shallows, flats, depth, points, structures, etc. and by understanding the seasons, daily conditions, water temperatures, etc. you should be able to eliminate large amounts of water and key on the areas that would relate to the bass based on many different factors listed above. Another way to get familiarized with the water is to "Hire" Guides or Charters that fish these waters frequently. Now, depending on expenses it would be recommended to hire at least 2 different guides or charters on any given body of water. The reason for this would be to take the "Best of the two" days to help find areas, patterns, etc. Being a licensed guide as well as a bass angling instructor, I need to let the truth be known that there are very poor and very good guides on just about every body of water that holds larger scale bass tournaments. Another way to help to learn the water is to "Fly-The-Water." Go to the municipal or county airport in the area and find a pilot to take you up and fly over the tournament waters. This doesnít cost very much (normally), but youíd be amazed of what you can see from the air that you canít see while sitting on the water.

3. Color and Bait Patterns. Probably one of the best ways to learn the color and bait patterns of any given body of water would be to visit as many "Bait & Tackle" retailers in the area as possible. Not so much to talk to anyone, but to look and see what baits and colors are being sold the most off the shelves. If you visit several of these retailers you should be able to get a very good idea of what colors and baits to use pre-fishing based on the averages of all these different places combined.

4. Watch the Locals.One of the best ways Iíve found some great "Honey Holes" in the past is just by observing the locals. While you are on the water and see a boat sitting in one spot for a while, just move off in a distance and watch. Remember, some of these locals have fished these waters all their life and are not sitting in areas just to eat lunch! And, especially in the morning before you hit the water, try to find the local diner where most of the locals go eat breakfast. Many times in the past Iíve got some great information just by eating at the same place at the same time, and by sitting as close as possible. Many anglers like to brag! Just by sitting and minding my own, you canít help to overhear these locals talking between themselves about the 10 pounder they caught off of Trumans Point using a Spook, etc.

5. Put a Game Plan Together. Putting a game plan together for a Tournament and especially "STICKING TO IT!" can make of break most of the anglers in the field. The biggest problem of "Most Anglers" when tournament fishing is not sticking to a game plan. Several years ago, I had the great pleasure and company of Shaw Grisby Jr. and his Father (Pops) over at my home for dinner. That evening, I asked Shawís father (A truly great and knowledgeable man) what he thought was the biggest problem of why most anglers canít seem to stay consistent, to which he replied; "They always leave the fish!" What he was saying was, that if you are in an area where there are fish, WHY LEAVE? Give a spot time... The biggest part of pre-fishing is locating fish right? So donít just give a spot a few minutes then leave..... Iíve sat on certain spots for a couple of hours without as much as a bite, then all of a sudden they turn on and Iíve caught limits just by waiting them out. Also, when making your game plan, select an area where you wonít have to run miles and miles to secondary spots. Try to keep at least 3 or 4 alternate spots within a few minutes of each other.

As I mentioned before, being a Pro Bass Instructor, Iíve had several students in the past who attended my 3-day Bass Fishing School that just wanted to learn how to "Pre-Fish" for tournaments. By teaching them a better understanding of the bass, why it does things, when it does things under the different circumstances, how to put game plans together, showing them different techniques and patterns, teaching them colors, what proper equipment to use, how to locate bass, etc. these former students are some of these "Constant Money Winners."

I hope that this article will help you in all your future tournaments and make you a more consistent angler. If you have any questions on any of the material Iíve covered, please donít hesitate to contact me by email at the address below.

Until next time!...... Take Care & God Bless!....."The Bass Coach" Roger Lee Brown

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