How far from me is this lake?
How many times will I be able to prefish it?
Have I ever been on the lake?
Do I know anyone who knows the lake?
Are fishing reports available for the lake?
What is the main forage of the lake?
What species of bass are there?
What time of year is the tournament?
What is the typical water clarity?
What is the weather forecast for the week leading up and day of?
What is the moon phase?
What are the water temps?
Is it a power generation lake?
These are not all of the questions but some of the first ones. In just over 30 days from now, the Texas Kayak Bass Fishing Open will be at Houston County Lake near Crockett, TX. This is what the filter looked like for me with answers:
How far from me is this lake? 3.5 hours
How many times will I be able to prefish it? maybe 1
Have I ever been on the lake? Nope
Do I know anyone who knows the lake? 2 people
Are fishing reports available for the lake? Rarely
What is the main forage of the lake? Red ear sunfish
What species of bass are there? Spotted and Largemouth
What time of year is the tournament? Fall
What is the typical water clarity? Clear to slight stain
What is the weather forecast for the week leading up and day of? most likely cloudy
What is the moon phase? New Moon
What are the water temps? Will be Mid to High 70s
Is it a power generation lake? Nope.
So the next step is finding reports. I look at reports from anytime of the year first, taking notes on baits, colors and depths. After I have data from 10 or 12 reports, I'll look specifically at the fall reports. If a report has pictures, I'll pay close attention.
Next I'll get on the Navionics map and checkout the lake for specific spots. If I get to prefish, this is where I will concentrate my efforts. Just because it looks good above the water, doesn't make it a fish hangout. Knowing what is under the water through maps, apps and electronics is a much better indicator.
After scouring the maps, I'll look for pictures on the web. Any scenic shots, Google Map images, anything that can help me get my bearings once I am there. I want points of reference.
Finally, I'll compile a game plan for baits to take. I want to limit myself from taking all of the tackle I own. Narrow it down to a few categories and colors and figure out what will work.
Once the game plan is intact, I'll respool the rods I'll take to prefish, load only the baits I'll take later and hit the water as soon as I can. I'll take my GoPro, digital cameras and shoot lots of pics and video. I'll log all the fish I catch, where and how and then catalog it all for further digestion later.
I'm not saying that a fisherman can't get lucky now and then and win a tournament without any prep work. What I am saying is the odds are a lot longer to do so. With the prizes and cash Bobby Clark and his sponsors have lined up for this tourney, I want to be as prepared as possible.