Outfishing the competition on single day derbies

Sponsored by Carhartt

Carhartt Elite Series pros Terry Scroggins and Jordan and Matt Lee spend each tournament season trying to outwork the competition and win 3-4 day derbies. But none of them got started fishing multi-day events. Each cut their teeth on lakes and rivers in their state’s backyard, fishing one-day club and jackpot tournaments for a little cash and bragging rights.

Scroggins and the Lee brothers took a look back at their days as weekend warriors to break down the unique differences in one-versus multi-day tournaments, breaking down what you need to do to win a single-day derby this summer.

Perfect Your Prefishing

For the majority of weekend anglers, managing time on the water prior to a single-day tournament is crucial. The work week and other obligations can limit prefishing opportunities, forcing you to be as efficient as possible to have success.

When it comes to picking when you’re going to prefish, Jordan Lee says the closer to derby day the better. “The best time to get out there is the day before the tournament,” he says, “A lot of people make the mistake of prefishing too much, getting out there weeks before. Fishing changes so much week-to-week, even day-to-day, that getting out there that early can hurt you.”

Scroggins, who still fishes club tournaments on the St. John’s River each year, understands the importance of a big bite in a one-day tournament. Scroggins adds, “Typically, the team that gets one big bite will win. In Elite Series events, guys are looking for areas that have fish with a quality average. But when practicing for a one-day, you’re really looking for baits or areas that are going to give you the best shot at a big bite. You’ve really gotta swing for the fences.”

Scroggins utilizes his electronics to get a better idea of fish size. When he’s confident in what his graphs are showing, he’ll hold back from fishing it in practice and hit it only during the tournament.

Planning for weather can be even more important. Scroggins notes, “When practicing for three- or four-day derbies, you’ll have maybe 10-12 spots. Other anglers may find about eight or nine of those and then, depending on the weather, two more may be ruled out. With just a one day event, you’ve gotta use the weather forecast to guide where you look in practice.” For example, if your bite is dependent on wind, use the forecast to predict what spots will have that needed breeze and expand your understanding of those areas.