Breaking new ground

You, the Average Joe weekend angler, are on your way to explore the new frontier. Today, you will embark on an angling foray to fish for the first time on a strange body of water.

What to do? Where to start?

Those are the most obvious questions you will be asking yourself as you cruise down the road, boat in tow.

Fishing new water can be a perplexing experience for the average angler, whose weekend time is balanced precariously at times between obligations on the land and how to squeeze enough time into a fishing trip.

This past weekend, you were not alone. Six of bass fishing's most talented anglers launched their boats on a new lake for the very first time. No pre-fishing, pouring over maps and reviewing past creel surveys and tournament reports. The setting was Lake Townsend, a 1,500-acre, North Carolina sportfishery where California pro Fred Roumbanis won the $250,000 first-place prize in the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts.

"Basically, you just need to have a basic idea about which phase of the spawn the fish might be," said the champ. "Water temperature can tell you a lot about that."

This time of year, Roumbanis recommends starting shallow and working deep to determine the water temperature factor.

"If the water temperature is in the low 70s then you should look for the fish to be spawning, and in the backs of the creeks or the spawning flats," he says.

Anything warmer then you should work progressively out to the deeper water areas in search of postspawn bass.

"Try making stops on secondary points, creek channel bends near flats and ledges and then lastly, on the mainlake points," he recommends. "Somewhere along the way, you should run into them."

Most of all, Roumbanis stresses the importance of going into the unknown with an open mind.

"On High Rock during the qualifier the bass were postspawn, so everybody fishing on the new lake looked for that type of bite," he says. "Then we got there and it was a spawning bite. So everybody had to adjust."

In other words, thinking outside the box and being open to change is the key to exploring new water.

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