Before getting into how I'd use information from BassGold.com to help me fish this year's Bassmaster Classic on the Red River (or pick my Fantasy Fishing team, for that matter), first let me give you a little background on how I've used such data in my tournament career.
Soon after I started fishing competitively, I realized I needed to keep records of my fishing efforts. At first this was a simple logbook, which served me well for a while by helping me remember how and where I caught bass on familiar waters.
This simple method is a great help in developing seasonal patterns for local waters you fish a lot, even if you don't fish tournaments. (BassGold.com helps you do this by allowing you to enter your fishing logs and keep them private.)
But after I started traveling and competing in regional and out-of-state tournaments, then B.A.S.S. Invitationals, I realized I needed broader information to help me analyze seasonal patterns on unfamiliar waters. So I began to gather data from the Bassmaster Tournament Trail.
I read and analyzed all the information from all Invitationals since their inception. I put this data into a crude database on my first monochrome desktop computer. I even went as far as to hire a local computer whiz to develop a database to help me search the data and print reports – on a dot-matrix printer!
As computers and my computer skills improved, I developed a more sophisticated database that allowed me to create reports for any month, and for any lake or lake type. I used this system throughout my career to help me find productive patterns for events, by using successful fishing patterns from past tournaments.
This information was invaluable for predicting the most likely fishing locations, habitat and lures on particular or similar bodies of water.
BassGold.com takes this tool to a whole new level of sophistication. My database had hundreds of records, but the BassGold database has thousands (and growing) of entries from tournaments (mostly) for many of the most popular bass waters in America.
It's probably the most valuable tool ever invented to aid anglers in shortening the time required to discover a pattern that will produce good bass fishing.
To show you how it works, let's take a look at how I'd use the information on BassGold.com if I were fishing the Classic this year.
I went into BassGold and created what's called a "Pattern Report." BassGold currently has 85 Red River patterns, but only 10 or so from two events in the same timeframe as the Classic. That tells us this isn't a popular time to be fishing this particular body of water, but I believe the February data is good enough to generate a reliable prediction for the upcoming Classic.
What BassGold calls "Macro Factors" are in my opinion the most important consideration for developing a successful fishing pattern. This is the predictor for the part of the lake that is most likely to contain the best bass population, and is largely determined by season of the year.
The Pattern Report indicates that 50 percent of successful competitors (1st through 5th place) caught their bass from "Backwaters." Another 25 percent of successful anglers caught fish from "Main Lake Offshore Structure" and "Creek Channel Structure" but also related to a backwater.
So 75 percent of the success this time of year on the Red River came from a backwater area. That’s really a good prediction: I definitely believe the Classic will be won from a backwater area.
The second most important factor in developing a successful fishing pattern is habitat, or what BassGold calls the "Habitat Factor." The BassGold Pattern Report is very specific in predicting that successful Classic competitors will work flooded wood.
Half of successful anglers caught their fish from this type of cover. Another 25 percent of the anglers had a channel as a part of their pattern. That tells me many fish were caught from channel edges lined by the many stumps in Red River backwaters.
It's a virtual certainty that the winning and high-placing fishermen in this Bassmaster Classic will fish around stumps and laydowns.
The BassGold data shows a variety of successful lures. This variability is normal. In this case, spinnerbaits and tubes/craws produced 40 percent (20 percent each) of winning catches.
Here's where applying your own fishing knowledge and experience to what you see in BassGold can produce more "gold" for you. For me, it's important to break lures into two categories: reaction baits and slow baits. By doing this, you can get an idea of the attitude of the fish in this situation and this body of water during this timeframe.
The data for these combined lure categories indicate a 33 percent success rate on reaction-type lures and 67 percent success on slower-presentation lures like worms and jigs.
All the successful lure types are well-adapted to fishing woody cover. So it's up to each angler to determine the best lure for the habitat and weather situation they face on a daily, possibly hourly, basis.
After looking at all of that, here's my prediction of the Classic-winning pattern:
The winner will fish a backwater off the main river around stumps, probably near a channel edge. He'll use a combination of spinnerbaits (maybe squarebill crankbaits) and a craw-type lure (or jig).
If you "knew" that already, you really only thought you knew it. BassGold tells you without a shadow of a doubt exactly what patterns have been successful and what therefore has the best chance of working again.
Fishing backwater stumps sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? But remember it's fishing, not an exact science. And a little research is always – 100 percent of the time – required to determine the best way to fish. For that, nothing beats BassGold.com.
(We're pretty sure everyone knows the name Ken Cook, a retired B.A.S.S. pro, former Classic champ and Bass Fishing Hall of Fame member. He's a big proponent of BassGold.com, and has worked with BassGold founder Jay Kumar on the app's development.)