Pre-Fishing 101 New to tournament fishing?

            If you are at the point where you’re ready to give tournament fishing a try you need to know one thing. Practice. That’s right you need to practice at the lake prior to tournament day assuming that the tournament is being held at a lake you have not fish on a regular basis. Fishing situations change lake to lake, structure and cover must be known in order to maximize your chances of landing some big boys (and girls).
            It’s known as pre-fishing. Some tournaments don’t allow it a few days prior to the tournament so be sure to read up on the rules for the particular tournament you are participating in. Pre-fishing is essential to any tournament fisherman. Tournaments can be lots of fun, but they are not the days when you should be exploring a lake. Pre-fish a lake as much as you can prior to the tournament, mark spots of fish taken or great structure you find on your GPS.
            I have pre-fished lakes the day before a tournament in some cases. That’s not ideal, but if that is all my schedule allows then its better then nothing. In fact, I have caught fish the day before a tournament only to get the same fish in the same spot the very next day. When pre-fishing its important to treat it as practice. That means you goal is to locate fish, cover, what they are feeding on, etc. You can think of it as just another day out fishing. In fact, while I’m pre-fishing I like to rule out spots and different lures. If I don’t catch fish while pre-fishing I know at least what I wont be doing come tournament day. It’s important while pre-fishing however to try and find a few fishing patterns that work as you rule out all those which are not working. The other thing which is an important part of pre-fishing is getting comfortable with the ramp situation. Last thing you need on tournament day is messing around with a new ramp, which can result in getting lost or finding out that this particular ramp dumps you in some severe shallows. Lets say you have been to the lake a few times in your past, just because you are comfortable with the lakes layout and even have a few good spots its still important to pre-fish. In New England the  fishing situations are constantly changing and its important to pre-fish to determine what patterns are working for that time of year at that particular body of water. Practice is a necessary evil for anyone who wants to be successful in a sport, and when it comes to fishing it is no different.
            Tournaments are lots of fun and can be great excuses for you to get out and fish some new bodies of water. However if you want to better your chances of having a good day on the water come the big tournament day be sure to fish the lake ahead of time.