Looking towards Winyah Bay

Becky and I are home this week getting ready for the Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay. This one’s going to be interesting.

For starters none of us knows much about the place. If you check it out on Google Earth, you quickly realize it’s massive. As I understand the rules we can fish anywhere we want so long as we don’t lock. I can’t even guess how many acres — square miles — of water there is out there. And, there are plenty of marinas around so fuel won’t be a problem on long runs.

Our lack of experience there and the size might mean that we’ll have huge areas to ourselves. It’s possible some of us will be fishing completely out of sight of any other competitor. It could also mean, though, that most of us will be bunched up in three or four areas.

The reason I say that is because of the rule about obtaining information about a place before it goes off limits. It’s legal. I break that information, or more specifically those of us who get it, into three categories.

First, there are the anglers who just want general information. What’s the water going to look like? How deep is the water? What kind of cover will I find when I get there? What kind of fish movements should I expect?

The next group wants general area information. They want to know where the biggest bags have been caught in the past. Things like the names of good creeks, flats or areas that have the best channels and drops. They’ll definitely want to know about vegetation. Things like where, what kind and how deep are critical.

The third bunch will want specific waypoints. They’ll mark every stump and rock they’re told about or that they can find.

There’s nothing wrong with doing any of the three. But it does have the effect of bunching up the boats.

There are very few secrets anymore. No matter which local you go out with they’ll all know about the same places. OK, you might get lucky and be shown a stump that no one else know about. I’ll give you that, but I’ll also say that it’s not likely to help much in the end. Who knows if the stump will produce during tournament week and even if it does you’ll not win a tournament off one small place like that, at least not often enough to bank on it.

My preparation was basic. I spent a little over two days running around Winyah Bay. I didn’t make a cast. All I did was learn where everything is at and how to orient myself. I marked a few run times and learned how to cross the flats, too. We’ll see next week if that was enough.

FYI: I’m in the first group. Too much information is not always good. The only way to win a tournament at this level is to fish the moment. All the waypoints in the world won’t help you do that.

Mike Iaconelli’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.