STRAT­EGY

Start by break­ing the dam into dif­fer­ent sec­tions, tak­ing into ac­count the fol­low­ing: time of the year, where the bait fish will be, weather and mark off the un­pro­duc­tive wa­ter on your map.

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Ben­nie Wiese*

“Tour­na­ment Strat­egy (Part-1)” You have been prac­tic­ing for a few days be­fore the next tour­na­ment; you did very well and now you want to test your­self against other an­glers. But are you ready? – Ben­nie Wiese

You have been prac­tic­ing for a few days be­fore the next tour­na­ment; you did very well and now you want to test your­self against other an­glers. But are you ready? To win a tour­na­ment you have to have the edge over your com­peti­tors and cer­tain tac­tics can pro­duce a win.

Ev­ery so of­ten just do­ing ex­tra ground­work and prepa­ra­tion can make a dif­fer­ence. The key fac­tors that can help you to win are con­fi­dence, prac­tice and hav­ing a plan. So, by work­ing your way up the rank­ings at club in-houses, di­vi­sional and provin­cial, can be a good start to get­ting that con­fi­dence.

To pre­pare men­tally and phys­i­cally for the chal­lenge are two of the most im­por­tant things to do. Ask your­self the ques­tion: How many times have I fished for two or three days in a row? Yes, maybe so­cially, but there was no pres­sure and you didn’t fish against time and other an­glers.

Men­tal and phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion

Many peo­ple think that bass fish­ing is a laid-back sport. They don’t re­al­ize that a tour­na­ment day takes eight hours and that you can make thou­sands of casts dur­ing the day. This means you have to be in top shape to win tour­na­ments, and it takes prepa­ra­tion ahead of time. If you con­sider em­bark­ing on club in-houses, di­vi­sional and provin­cial tour­na­ments you must be in good phys­i­cal con­di­tion. That means you must able to pick up, turn, bend, and move about in a va­ri­ety of po­si­tions, with­out in­jur­ing your­self.

To be com­pet­i­tive you must not only eat and sleep right, but do reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ex­er­cise to get into ex­cel­lent shape in or­der to pick up gear and leap from the front to the rear of the boat. Good bal­ance is crit­i­cal, as are fast re­flexes, eat­ing and drink­ing on the go with­out wast­ing time. Ma­noeu­vring can be im­por­tant too, like jump­ing down on your knees quickly and mov­ing in many di­rec­tions ef­fi­ciently. Los­ing that one fish could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing. Many an­glers put their tackle away in win­ter and in be­tween tour­na­ments. But this is the time to prac­tice pitch­ing, flip­ping, and var­i­ous cast­ing tech­niques. If it gets too cold to be out­side, set up boxes and prac­tise pitch­ing, flip­ping and cast­ing to tar­gets to test your ac­cu­racy. Know­ing your tackle like the back of your hand, and be­ing able to promptly carry out a plan is crit­i­cal in a tour­na­ment.

Prac­tis­ing all tech­niques fre­quently is vi­tal to give you the con­fi­dence that you need to win when you get to the tour­na­ment. Be­ing able to con­trol your emo­tions and stay­ing calm in the pre­ced­ing days and nights can give you an edge over the in­ex­pe­ri­enced an­glers. Many an­glers that fish club in-houses, di­vi­sional and pro­vi­sional at in­ter­me­di­ate lev­els are at the top of their game, and take it very se­ri­ously, so a slight edge can mean a great deal. An­glers that can keep their cool, and can stick to their game plans un­der pres­sure, are the ones that are placed in the top fi­nal po­si­tions time af­ter time.

Study the venue

The first thing you want to do be­fore you start to pre­fish is to get as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble on the venue. Look for maps, see what types of bait fish can be found and what the dam’s con­di­tions are. Have a look at the past tour­na­ment re­sults of the same venue. By visit­ing the lo­cal tackle shops and talk­ing to an­glers you can find some valu­able in­for­ma­tion. Look at the shelves of the lo­cal tackle shop to see what the lo­cal hot colour is. Most of the time it is the one that is low on stock or out of stock.

Now you can start to work out a game plan. Do what you have been told, or put to­gether your own plan for the venue. Find out more about the com­po­si­tion of the dam bot­tom, struc­ture, both nat­u­ral and man­made, along with wa­ter qual­ity and lev­els. All of this will help you de­cide where to start your pre-fish.

Start by break­ing the dam into dif­fer­ent sec­tions, tak­ing into ac­count the fol­low­ing: time of the year, where the

bait fish will be, weather and mark off the un­pro­duc­tive wa­ter on your map. These days its easy to pull the maps from Google earth on the in­ter­net, then se­lect the most likely area to find fish, for ex­am­ple, if its sum­mer and very hot, look for drop-offs. If your bud­get al­lows it, make a com­plete run of the dam so you have a phys­i­cal look at the dam be­fore you fish.

Now con­sider work­ing at the grass, lay-downs, humps, rocks and also keep your eye on the shore line to see where there can be drop-offs (Un­for­tu­nately there are no con­tour maps avail­able of the dams in this coun­try). By do­ing your home­work you will have a bet­ter idea of struc­ture and the con­di­tions of the dam.

Fish­ing

Start by look­ing for ac­tive fish us­ing search baits like crankbaits, spin­ner­baits, li­p­less cranks and buzzbaits. When you find the ac­tive fish don’t go and pin ever fish that you get. Pin at least one to see what size fish is around and mark the spot by us­ing a GPS. If you want to make sure there’s more fish on the spot, use the same lure with­out hooks. If you have time or prac­tise more than one day, visit the marked spots at dif­fer­ent times dur­ing the day to de­ter­mine the best time to fish the spot.

Some times in the year bass will stage on a sin­gle piece of struc­ture as small as a twig, reed stem or blade of grass. The bass are just look­ing for some type of struc­ture to hold next to. The goal is to get at least four spots where you can get your five fish limit, then go and look for ar­eas where you can look for kicker fish. A kicker fish is a big fish that gives your bag’s weight a boost.

In Part-2 we will look at al­ter­na­tive baits, man­ag­ing your fish­ing time and land­ing big fish. Un­til then, en­joy your fish­ing. *Ben­nie Wiese is the editor of SA Bass mag­a­zine and an ex­pe­ri­enced provin­cial bass an­gler.

Get as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble on the venue Look for ac­tive fish by us­ing search baits like a spin­ner­bait

To be com­pet­i­tive you must do reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ex­er­cise

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