Practice, Practice, Practice…Getting Ready for Tournament Day

Pre-Fishing Tactics with Walls and Wood

We always hear about how a tournament day went for a bass fisherman and many times it comes down to making the right game time decisions, but many times it all comes back to that angler’s practice.  Whether an angler is practicing one day or a whole week for an upcoming tournament, they are looking to prepare themselves for that event.

We caught up with Classic Bass Champions Tour anglers Brian Wood and Andy Walls to hear about their pre fishing strategies.

Walls, the inaugural Champions Tour Championship Winner has one thing on his mind when he first begins practice and that is “sight-seeing.”  “I like to usually just run around the lake and get the lay of the land.  I like to see as much of the system as I can, so I know where I can run to and find similar water to where I may find some fish tournament day,” commented Andy.

Items that Walls is taking notice of include:  water clarity/color, water temperature, weed growth/development, depth of cover and bottom content.  “Sometimes this will leave you relying on your electronics and mapping, and my Humminbird has always led me in the right direction!”

From here Andy will pick a likely area of the lake to fish, based on his previous scouting and prefers to select an area that has a lot of different things going on.  A well diverse area of a lake or river may have backwaters, points, flats, shallow cover, deep weeds, rocks, docks, or even trees.  “The more things I can look at quickly and more efficiently, the better I feel about my day on the water,” said Walls.  “Once I pick my area, I like to figure out exactly what I think the fish are doing and I will try to figure out if there is a pattern to where they are sitting.”

If Walls can develop a pattern, he will usually check a few more places to see if it is the same in other areas of the lake.  This is his ideal situation as he will have something to start on the morning of the tournament.

Having a backup plan or something to fall back on if the primary plan falls apart, is the last thing that Walls will work on figuring out in practice.  “It happens more often than any angler would like to admit, but weather changes and fish move. There have been a lot of times where I was getting a lot of good bites the days leading up to the tournament and of course the morning of there was nothing going on,” chuckled Andy.

Andy likes to rely on to moving baits to cover water and generate a reaction bite out of the bass, a Storm 360GT Searchbait and a Terminator T1 Buzzbait.   This way if the weather conditions change, or the fish move he can have an idea of something else that can effectively cover water with to find active fish.

Some anglers can dedicate a lot of time to pre fishing for a tournament; others have limited time due to other commitments, such as work or family.  Regardless of this Brian Wood likes to keep his pre-fishing to a couple days just before the tournament.  “The more time I spend further out from the tournament day the worse I do,” said Brian.  “I used to do that a lot and it never went well so I stopped. I’m not sure why I went back to that for the Championship this year, but I did, I fished Pokegama every weekend from when it was announced, plus the entire week before, and I finished last.”

By keeping your practice to couple days before the tournament minimizes the amount of change that can occur, especially if it’s a spring or fall tournament.  “I think you end up fishing too many memories from weeks ago and don’t change with the fish.”

Brian Wood has a similar strategy as he likes to select an area that will keep his trolling motor in the water.  “Too often I fish one spot in an area, then move to another spot, then all of a sudden I’m driving all over the lake and really not accomplishing much,” laughed Wood.  “You can’t just run around and fish “spots” that you think are good without fishing a large area first.”

Wood likes to fish everything in an area and find out what kind of spots they are on in that area before running around the lake looking for the same stuff.  “Catch enough fish in an area to get an idea of size, and quantity, but don’t catch too many. One fish doesn’t make a spot, but two does. Then move after that.”

 

Keeping an open mind is something that we hear frequently from consistent top finishers in bass tournaments and Wood, who won the Champions Tour event on Mille Lacs in 2017 echo’s this as well.  “Thinking back to all the tournaments I’ve won, or done well in, most have not gone the way it was supposed to go according to practice. All the ones I’ve completely tanked in, I tried to force what happened in practice without adapting to whatever changed,” said Wood.

Covering water and moving quickly is beneficial in practice to eliminating and identifying potential fishing locations, but fishing to your strengths is a must.  “Use baits you are most comfortable with that allow you to cover water will make your comfortable in the areas you are fishing,” said Brian.  “And fish your own way, and your own fish. Don’t listen to dock talk and try and catch other people’s fish. It will just spin you out, EVERY time, most of it isn’t true anyway!”

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