Looking towards Guntersville

I recently spent a few days getting ready for the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. Some of you might find what I am doing, and how I’m doing it, interesting. More importantly, it might help you catch a few somewhere along the line.

Over a three-day period I put 13 hours on my big motor, but I only fished for about two hours. The idea is to look over everything on the lake. The grass is no secret on Guntersville. I wanted to see what it was doing, how it had changed and what I might expect when the Classic starts.

Another thing was that I wanted to refresh my memory when it came to where the channels are, the drops, the shallows, the flats and anything else that might affect the fishing come March. I marked waypoints in some cases and spent a lot of time thinking about fish movements. 

Knowing what’s there and how to find it is critical when it comes to tournament preparation. There’s no way we can know what the weather will be like leading up to the Classic and during it. It could be short-sleeve shirts and sunblock, but it could just as easily be long underwear and gloves. 

Those kinds of weather differences mean that trying to find a pattern for March is a waste of time. All you can do is learn what’s there and try to be ready for anything. 

Something I do, that a lot of anglers don’t these days, is work with paper maps. I get my hands on every one I can, and I refer to them constantly. Something you should understand about paper maps — or electronic ones for that matter — is that they aren’t all the same. Some show one thing but not another, and some show different information about the same place.

Now that I have most of that catalogued I’m starting to watch old videos and cull through my lure collection.

I treat videos like I treat paper maps. I’ll watch anything from any source. They all have some information in them that will refresh my memory or show me something different. They might be old, and the lake might have changed. That doesn’t matter. I need every little bit of information I can get my hands on from anywhere. This is a Bassmaster Classic. The competition is fierce and the stakes are high. Preparation is everything. 

When it comes to culling through lures about all I can say is that there is a benefit to having been in the game for a while. I have some really old stuff and some really new stuff. Some of the old will still catch them, especially when you combine it with the new. 

A lot of my lures are being repainted in some patterns I want just for Guntersville. My painter, Mike Russell who owns Bag 5 Baits, is doing that for me. He’s a true professional who understands what I try to tell him. He gets it.

That’s how I get ready for a big one. Maybe there’s something in this that’ll help you get ready for your big one, be it a tournament or a trip with your buddies.