After I finished competing in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic Bracket on the Niagara River I decided to go on to the Mississippi River and to Mille Lacs Lake and do some scouting and looking around before they go off limits.
I’ve never been to either one so I thought I’d be better off if I knew what kind of water I was going to be fishing later this year. You can’t spend enough time on any body of water. That’s kind of funny when I think about it, though, because some of my best tournaments are when I just show up. Nevertheless, I’m serious about my fishing career so this is where I’m at right now.
My plan is to look around. You can find most of the obvious spots and areas on any body of water with a good map, but you don’t really know what’s out there unless you look at it up close. If I do that now when I’m not under any time pressure, it’ll save me a lot of time when official practice starts.
What I’m not doing is try to find a lot of specific spots or places that I’ll be fishing during the tournament. Fishing conditions change so fast that you can’t do that. It’s just not possible. Things change from day to day, and sometimes from hour to hour, so there’s no point in even thinking about the changes from season to season.
My main goal is to locate the obvious and work my way out from there. I want to know what the bottom is like, what kind of water depth I have in different areas and where the grass and wood are located. That way when I start practice I can find the places where I think the bass might be holding.
Unlike some anglers, however, I do fish. Some guys spend all day at idle looking around and marking spots. That’s not my thing. I can only drive so far until I start casting. Regardless, I do fish, and I will mark the spots that produce good ones. But in the end I’m trying to familiarize myself with the venue.
My lure choices are pretty simple. I go with four or five of the standard ones, lures that are proven fish catchers just about anywhere. There’s no point in getting creative or doing anything out of the ordinary.
If you’re interested in my specific choices of baits I always have a Strike King Dream Shot OPD, a Drop Shot Half Shell OPT, a KVD Jerkbait and a Rage Swimmer on the deck of my boat. My presentations and color choices vary with the conditions I’m facing.
This is how I do things, or at least how I do things at this stage of my career. Fishing at the professional level is so individualized that it’s impossible to say what’s right or wrong, or what’s best. All any of us can do is what we feel works for us.
Note: I love to talk fishing and I love to help other anglers catch more bass. If you have any questions about techniques or how to approach certain situations, post them in the Comments under this column. I’ll do my best to answer them.