High school and college fishing teams are elite anglers with tournaments that have produced upwards of 300+ boats.
That’s 600 sticks getting into the same boxing ring and throwing haymakers at each other. The only way to survive these tournaments is by being very prepared. The best way to prepare? As a team!
Preparation: The Keys To Preparing For Practice Days
The first step to any tournament is preparation. Preparation is key to any victory and if you go and ask any professional, they will all tell you that they wouldn’t be where they’re at if not for their ability to prepare for tournaments. This is similar to a baseball or football player showing off their skills at a very high level on the field. The player is simply showing off the products of their preparation. The same goes for fishing bass tournaments. If you want to succeed you must be prepared to do so.
Lake Detective: Research The Lake
Now when you begin to research a lake, I recommend that your entire team does this separately because everyone has their own thought process and opinions. When everyone researches on their own, usually everyone finds something a little different to bring to the table. When you research I suggest getting both paper maps and getting a cartography chip like Lakemaster or Navionics.
With these maps, you can look at the lakes contours and identify fish migration routes.
When you first look at the map don’t try to just pin point where the fish are at this very moment, but instead try to map out a migratory route of the fish from wintering, to pre-spawn, to spawn and so on. Once you have these areas mapped out, you can eliminate a lot of water really quickly.
Next for research is to research past tournaments.
What does it take to win?
What baits normally do the job?
Are the tournaments being won in the same area of the lake or are the victories more evenly spread out across the lake?
Answering questions like this can help eliminate more water and focus your sights on where that winning sack is hiding. Lastly, you have to research weather at the time of tournament. What the conditions you are about to endure entail can really affect a game plan! Remember weather is always a big factor and can change patterns and fire up or lock down the bite. So, make sure you keep an eye on the forecast.
Develop The College Fishing Team Practice Plan
This part should happen a few days before your team leaves for the practice days prior to fishing the tournament. Everyone who is fishing the tournament needs to meet face to face and talk about what they researched and what they believe could work. This allows teams to listen and hear ideas as well as see areas that they overlooked or did not even think of. This can create connections between things others found out, or simply help assure everyone of what they are thinking.
This is also the step where everyone should talk openly about what their plan is for practicing. This gets the team on the same page for practice and helps avoid multiple teams practice the same spots and possibly over fishing certain areas. After understanding what everyone is doing and where everyone is at, you can more easily break down a large body of water in the few days of practice you have. Doing this eliminates water much faster and allows your team to hone in on highly productive areas to help establish your pattern.
The (Practice) Game Day: Putting Your Team’s Practice Plan Into Action
Now, once your teams get out on the water, it’s up to them at this point. It’s up to every individual team to thoroughly dissect their targeted area. Remember to mark every bite and catch as this information is vital. But, after each day of the practice, you need to get together and discuss the information collected and eliminate more water. Work to develop the pattern every day a little more.
ANGLR is actually a fantastic app for this. A very large reason why the Bowling Green State University Team partnered with ANGLR is because their software helps us with this very procedure. The ability to have a GPS trail, weather data, and catch data all on your phone is very helpful when you’re sitting around trying to figure out what the pattern is. After every day you do this, the data your entire team collects far outweighs the data that any other team would be able to collect in the same amount of time.
Putting It All Together: Finalizing The Data From Your College Fishing Team Practice
The night before the tournament is crunch time. This is the night you take all the information you’ve gathered from your week and everyone decides their derby day game plan. Now, one thing that is understood by our team is the honor rule. You don’t go to someones spot that they worked hard to find and fish it dead, unless they tell you to. Other than that, teams get together and discuss where they are going and what they are doing. This helps keep teams off the same spot or know that they will have company so both teams need to be aware and manage the fish accordingly.
After that, just relax, have some team bonding and get some sleep. The morning is game day.
Our team has seen tons of success while using this method. We highly recommend developing a practice plan as a team to every other college or high school team! The efficiency in breaking down water and patterning fish will blow you away. Either way, when it comes time for game day and you feel confident in how you’ve prepared, it makes it that much easier to put fish in the boat! Try for yourselves and you won’t be disappointed.