Let’s start this series of columns out by stating the obvious: I was up against it. The Lake Erie Open was my best chance of making the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. I was well aware of that, and so were many of the fans.
That doesn’t mean that I went into the event in a panic or scared to death. What it does mean is that I was serious about putting all of my years as a professional angler to the test. I wasn’t going to leave any stone unturned as I developed my plan. I did everything I could do to put the odds in my favor.
The first thing that any angler fishing Lake Erie has to take into consideration is the weather, in particular I’m talking about the wind. It’s nasty and it’ll wreak havoc on anything you try to do. I needed to cut down the water I was going to fish.
What I mean by that is that I had to find an area that I could get to no matter what. I studied all the maps I could get my hands on and I checked every weather site on the Internet. I looked at past patterns as well as future predictions. It wouldn’t do me any good to find the biggest fish in the lake if I couldn’t get to them because of rough weather.
I finally made a decision. I was going to fish the area around the Bass Islands, Kelly Island and Pelee Island. That’s a really big place. I’m not sure what all it covers but I’d have to say it’s at least 30 miles or so. The thing is, though, that it cut my fishing area down to a manageable size before I ever launched my boat to start practicing. I was able to disregard everything else. That was step one.
Step two was to figure out how to catch the bass that lived in that area. I studied past tournaments, checked my own records and spent countless hours on Fishidy.com. Everything I did helped but I have to say that the time I spent on Fishidy was probably the most productive. It allowed me to put everything together in one place. I was able to view the area as a whole rather than as individual pieces.
I finally figured out that I needed two things to get on the kind of fish I was going to need to win. Those two things were current and bait near a feeding station.
Some of you might think that’s obvious. All fish want some water movement, something to eat and a safe place to do it in. Maybe, but I was looking for the big ones. I didn’t want fish. It’s no big deal to catch a stringer of smallmouth on Lake Erie. What is a big deal is to catch a stringer that averages 4 or 5 pounds per fish.
Once I made those two decisions I went back to my maps. I used paper maps and Internet maps as well as Lowrance and Navionics materials. Next week we’ll talk about the specifics of how I used them, what I looked for, and how I found it.