Getting ready for your championship

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Ott Defoe's first one - 4.8-pounds.
Bassmaster Marshal John McAvoy

It’s getting late in the year. The Bassmaster Elite Series and some of the anglers are getting ready for our year-end tournaments. They’ll decide a number of honors, and careers in some cases. Local circuits and the anglers who fish them are starting to do the same thing. 

On the surface our events might look to be more important, but that’s only on the surface. Local clubs and small circuits are the backbone of bass fishing. That makes them important. And besides, what about the pride that goes with winning a local championship?

With that in mind I thought now would be a good time to go over a few things that might help some of you catch more bass when all the marbles are on the line.

Practice as close to the tournament date as possible.

The weather can change quickly in late summer and early fall. That’ll have a big impact on how the fish behave. The closer to the tournament you can practice the better.

I realize that work schedules and in some cases waters being off limits can throw a monkey wrench into things. Nevertheless, do your best to get as close as possible to the start date. It’ll make a big difference.

And, pay attention to the weather forecast. You can’t control the weather, but you can prepare for it. A part of paying attention to the weather forecast is to know what happened the week before the tournament. That’ll give you a perspective on the trend and the flow. 

Think solo bass, not groups. 

This is the time of year that scatters bass. Don’t expect to find high numbers and to be able to cull through them for a decent sack. It’s probably not going to happen. A better strategy is to fish high percentage spots and hope for one or two good ones.

I especially like slightly deeper pools way back at the end of long creeks and isolated laydowns almost anywhere. 

Look for current.  

Current is one of the most reliable bass attractors right now. Take advantage of that. Fish it everywhere you can, no matter where it’s at or what’s generating it. 

One thing that a lot of anglers don’t think about when they’re looking for current is the wind. They think of current as being created by a river or a creek moving water towards the dam. But, wind will create current, too. Watch for it and fish it.

Don’t even think about hooking a bass in practice.

A good day at this time of the year is seven keepers — unless you’re fishing the St Lawrence River. Don’t waste a fish in practice. It might be the one you need at the weigh-in. 

Make every cast count. 

Don’t get sloppy with your casts and don’t get in a hurry. There are only so many high percentage spots so make sure you approach each one carefully and make a cast only after thinking about how to fish it efficiently. At the same time, make sure you fish every piece of structure or cover thoroughly. Cover every part of it from every angle and from every direction. 

A wasted cast is a wasted opportunity. Never forget that.

Fish smart this fall and you’ll probably make a better showing at the weigh-in.