Two Steps to Better Tournament Prefishing


Contributed by Kevin Will

After a recent tournament, a fellow competitor asked how I did. I said I had 5 decent ones! I asked him the same question, he replied, “I zeroed today. I don’t understand it, I caught 5 nice ones prefishing yesterday!” I just smiled and shook my head. What I wanted to say was, “Well maybe if you didn’t sore lip em yesterday you might have caught them today!”

With our sport exploding and more & more people jumping into tournaments, I realize that many have never fished competitively before. What follows are two tips for how I go about it. It makes no difference if your fishing your local trail for $300.00, or a national trail like the KBS for $1600.00, or a charity event for a new kayak. Tournament prefishing is a good idea, but you need to do it right!

Step 1 Map study & Research

Before you ever get to the lake, you should know a little about it. The internet makes this relatively easy. You can find bait types and what patterns have done well there in the past. Then take your map and circle areas you think will be holding fish, based on weather & seasonal pattern that the fish should be in. ***Note*** At this point we need to look at boat ramps and rules!

If you’re fishing a small lake it’s no big deal, because you my be able to cover the whole thing on your practice day. If you’re on a big body of water, you’ll want to target areas you feel you can reach, fish, and get back to the ramp, load up and make it to your check in area on time. Remember we are paddling or peddling; we can’t fire up the engine and make long runs. If you have multiple good looking spots, you may need more than one day of practice to check them all.
You can also make virtual scouting trips from the comfort of your couch, using just your sonar and mapping chip! The last thing is be sure you’re keeping track of the weather. Conditions in that area.

Step 2 On the water

You’ve arrived for prefishing, you head to your most likely spot, and you’re feeling great! You may have just driven several hours and you’re jacked up and ready to rip some lips! Whoa slow down hoss! Make sure you do two things on your high speed paddle to your spot.

1) Always keep an eye on the depthfinder, you may come across a hump, shell bed or brush pile that’s not on the map.

2) Always be alert for birds diving or fish schooling, make a mental note of these, you may need them later.

Now at your spot…spend more time looking and studying the area. You only need to catch one or two bass to see what size your dealing with. If you catch them, look for that spot on a spot, if you don’t you may want to move on.

One final tip, those spots you noted on your way to your spot may save you. It you didn’t note anything, spend a little time nosing around closer to the ramp. If a storm pops up or the wind howls, it might make it tough if not impossible to get to your spot. A limit of peanuts close to the the ramp on derby day could be a lifesaver. Remember, no need to win practice. Everyone you catch the day before, is more than likely one that won’t bite when it counts!

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Chris Payne

A lifelong Texan, Chris Payne has been an outdoor enthusiast his entire life and has spent the last 15 years fishing mainly from a kayak. He is known for his thorough and helpful reviews as well as how to articles for nearly everything kayak fishing related. If you have questions or comments, you can leave them on this post or email Chris at:

One thought on “Two Steps to Better Tournament Prefishing

  • September 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Some really good ideas to getting ready for a fishing tournament.

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