Top Professional Bass Anglers Reveal 6 Simple Tournament Preparation Tactics That Work

We’ve Taken These Top Professional Anglers Advice And Turned It Into A Proven A Detailed Guide That You Can Use Right Now!


“Have An Easy To Follow Plan On Tournament Day … Even If You Never Found A Detailed Preparation Guide That You Liked Before Now!!”

A couple of years ago I had one of the most frustrating tournaments I’ve ever been a part of…

The tournament was located at Lake C and was exceptionally difficult for several reasons.

Looking back I really approached the lake in a very egotistical way. 

In full disclosure, I’ve only had experience with lakes similar to Lake C, but I’ve never actually fished Lake C…

So, I only relied on my past limited experiences and I asked a couple of guys at the local tackle shop to what the fish were biting on…

I didn’t feel that I needed to do any more research or to practice a couple of days leading up to the event…

When it came to the day of the tournament I launched my boat and motored to a spot that I thought would be productive…

The first spot was a complete bust, a total blank!  So was the next spot and the next!

The guys at the local tackle shop said they fish were biting deep diving cranks, but I’m used to fishing with drop shot and jigs.

I thought about switching back to fishing with the drop shot and jig, but I stuck to fishing deep diving cranks…

Feeling very frustrated, I looked at Google Maps to try to get other ideas…

Still came up empty!  Grrrr!

Out of that tournament, I finished 5th from the bottom and managed on only catch a couple of small dinks and a bad sunburn!

From that tournament, I learned an extremely valuable lesson

Do your homework and research before you hit the water!

Fish within your strengths first.

Then if they don’t bite you can then change to a less familiar tactic.

Don’t sell yourself out. And don’t chase a rumor on how the fish are biting.

If you know how a lake typically fishes, use it as a mental filter to how to evaluate a lake and how you can apply your strengths to it.

How To Prepare Before You Hit The Water

Preparation before a tournament or a big fishing trip is broken into two parts.

The system that I use today I’ve learned from the bass fishing masters Mike Iaconelli and Davy Hite.

First – Start your tournament research at home.

Second – apply what you know when you get on the water, a lot of time it’s 2-3 days depending on the event.

Both are incredibly important for bass fishing tournament preparation and need to be looked at as a one-two punch approach.

First: Home Research

So fast forward a couple of years and I’ve built up a dependable system to help me prepare for the tournament.

This is a real-life example of what I did…

I signed up for a tournament in April at Lake A.

I’ve fished Lake A before, but only in the summer…so at least a had a little bit of experience.   

The first thing I did, when I started my at-home research was to pull out the fishing log that I kept.

A few months back I decided to a detailed fishing log for every lake I fish. 

I documented the date, conditions, water temp, baits used ect…

Keeping the log helps me remember the smallest details, especially when I fish multiple lakes.

Second, I look up published historical research.

I’ll look for information that has been published in old tournament reports, old fishing magazines, and bass club newsletters…

Third, after doing all the historical research I’ll start to look for “buzz words” and write them down in my pretournament journal.

The “buzz words” that I’m talking about are the words or phrases that keep coming up such as the type of lures being used, the color of lures and the location of the winning pattern was found.

Ex:  citrus shad crankbaits, black and blue jigs, all-white spinnerbaits, ect…

Second: Buy Maps For Tournament Preparation

A lot of anglers have shifted to rely on digital maps from the sonar companies. Buying old topographic maps can help reveal special locations that no one, even the new digital maps are aware of.

The site is a good resource to get maps.

I also hopped onto Google and Bing maps to evaluate the areas that keep getting mentioned.

If you have a Humminbird unit then you can get the LakeMaster mapping program for your sonar unit, then using the Contour Elite PC software program you can upload your waypoints to hone your secret spots.

Third: Seasonal Patterns

Based on seasonal patterns, take everything that you have collected, the buzz words, the maps and apply know seasonal patterns.

Break those collected ideas down into sections you can more easily manage.

These spots can give you insight on not only on current patterns, but patterns and locations to fish if the weather shifts.

Once you arrive…

This second part is after you arrive at the tournament location.

Use the practice days to refine your knowledge and research to narrow down your potential patterns to focus on the sweet spots!

So getting back to my story…

Taking out my map I looked over several promising areas where I thought bass that was staging to spawn. 

I motored out to those spots and quickly idled around the target areas, trying to confirm my hypothesis on where I expected the bass to be. 

First I make it a habit to look for any visual changes above the water…

Changes such as look for differences in water clarity, signs of life (like bass jumping or chasing shad), herons on the shoreline, changes in rock or vegetation on the shoreline that extends into the water.

Then I looked for changes below that water….

I made sure to graph looking for subtle deviations within that specific spot.  

I remember it clearly, I was graphing the area with my sonar looking at a pre-spawn staging ledge looking for any sweet spots…

Suddenly the depth changed and dropped from 17 feet to over 25 feet and then quickly back up to 17 feet again…

I went back over the area and confirmed the change in depth.

I found a 7-foot pit on a pre-spawn staging ledge!

Best of all this pit was not on any of the maps I was able to get me hands-on!

What this ended up being was old bridge piling pit was supposed to extend over the river,

But they scrapped that idea and build up a damn farther down the river and eventually flooded the area.

I knew in this area it was the perfect staging spot.

And without my detailed at home tournament preparation system that I forced myself to do, I’ve learned I would have never found that honey hole!

spring summer bass jig

Probe The Spot On The Spot

I dropped a marker buoy over the pit and I backed off to fish it for a bit.

I took out my search baits and probed the area now feeling for any other subtle changes or structure.

I use 4 types of search baits.

1) Texas rig with a tungsten 1/2 ounce weight

2) Tungsten 1/2 ounce football jig

3) Crankbait

4) Large swimbait/glide bait

At the time I threw out the 1/2 ounce jig and a crankbait to search around those specific areas looking for clues.

I ended up getting 2-3 bites, that told me that fish were there and at the same time I was probing around and feeling the changes and looking for the sweet spot within the spot.

I felt different changes in the bottom composition and felt a small shell bed and that ended up being the sweet spot on the spot.

I backed off that spot to look for any adjacent structure or drop-offs in a 50-yard radius to use as a fallback area, just in case the weather changes and the fish push deeper or if something spooks them for whatever reason.

Finally, using my maps I’ll zoom around the lake confirming other locations that I had already suspected.

Getting Ready For Plan B and C

Talking with numerous professional anglers, they consistently say is what separates them from other anglers is that they most likely have secondary and tertiary spots.

Spots where they if the weather or water conditions change for the worse.

So it’s equally important that you look for and mark these other spots!

To finish my story, I ended up taking second place fishing against 88 boats… not too shabby if you ask me!

This system that I now use is the same system that any bass angler can use, whether it be a serious bass angler that can only get out on the water 1-2 times a month or if the angler is a bass club or tournament circuit angler.

I went from a feeling of despair, confusion, anxiousness and overwhelmed when I showed up at a tournament and looked out into the water wondering “where the heck do I start first?”

To now having a major game plan in place, where I could go into the tournament with confidence and through the advanced preparation I would have essentially made the fishery smaller.

I hope this helps you get on more fish!

Tight Lines!

George @ Team Mythik

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