The old saying goes “a blind squirrel finds a nut every once and a while”. Every once and a while in tournament fishing will get you nothing but an empty wallet and lots of hurt feelings. After coming off a miserable performance at Smith Mountain Lake a few weeks ago, it was time to move on and forget it. Try to learn something, but have a short memory. Just like a quarterback that throws an interception.
So since I moved on, it was time to start focusing on the first BASS Northern Open on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, TN. When doing lake research, use all of the tools that you can in order to gather information. Sure, weather patterns and lake levels vary from year to year, but if you take all of that information and compile it in your brain, you may stumble upon something that no one else has, or you may see patterns develop. The first thing I will do is look for articles on the web and past tournament results from similar times of the year. Sometimes these can clue you in to what kind of weight to expect and how they were caught in that particular tournament.
The next thing I will do is go to Google Earth and study the lake. In the instance of Douglas Lake, it is drawn down every winter, so there is some excellent information to be gathered from this. You can see isolated rock piles, channel swings, how points lay out, high spots, depressions, etc… Does this mean that they fish won’t be on a bare point? No, but it does mean that I know there might be a rock pile on a creek channel swing where the fish would be coming out from their spawning areas. These are the type places that will be overlooked by many anglers that didn’t do this type of research. They are also the type places that you can catch a sack full!! This doesn’t guarantee me catching a bunch of fish, but I’d rather have 100 bullets in a gun fight than I would 7.
At the same time I am looking at Google Earth, I will also open up my Lowrance, Insight Planner. This can be subscribed to on the Lowrance website for a very reasonable fee. This allows me to open up my map and cross reference the places I am looking at on Google Earth. If I find an area that I like, I will place a waypoint on the map via the Insight Planner. It will save all the waypoints you place, and when you are finished, save them on your SD card to be placed in your Lowrance unit. Once I have placed a waypoint, I will then ask myself if this is an obvious spot or is it isolated. If it is an isolated spot, I will save the image from Google Earth and print it out later to be placed in the boat. It is nice to have a hard copy of the picture in the boat to help pinpoint the area once you are on the lake. Sure you can use an IPad in the boat, but I prefer to have a hard copy, and if I need to, I can turn the computer on and use my phone as a mobile hotspot. By printing out hard copies, it eliminates the need for another distracting piece of technology while you are trying to practice.
Once I have gone through Google Earth and placed coordinating waypoints, I will go back through the topo map on Insight Planner and look for spots that I think will be good even if there isn’t any cover there. I place waypoints on those areas so I know to go check them in practice. When I am finished, I save them to my SD card, and I am ready to roll.
If you will try this method for your research and lake study, you will be more than just a blind squirrel looking for a nut (bass) the next time you hit the lake. Use all the tools you have to become educated. This sport we so love isn’t cheap, so if you are going to do it, give yourself the best opportunity to do well.