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GETTING YOUR BOAT READY FOR THE FISHING SEASON

By Bridget Kristen Allen

With the fishing season underway a lot of us just want to connect the boat and go. It’s important to do some preseason checkups before you do. Here is a brief check list that BFM Staffer/BASS Pro Bridget Kristen Allen does before every season. These tips may save you some time and serious issues on the rood and water!

1.      One of the first things I do being a tournament angler that travels a good amount on the road with my boat is check and inspect my trailer and tires! I check tires for any leaks or dry rot. I check my wheel bearings which some are now maintenance free but it's still a good idea to check before hitting the road!


2.      I also check and inspect trailer straps and make sure to have a secure strap or chain as well.


3.      I make sure the trailer actuator engages and that all my proper trailer signals work and no bulbs are burnt out, most are LED now but I still go over everything.  


4.      I check and inspect boat batteries, which I try to replace every other year but now I switched to AGM's which last longer and no maintenance required. Be sure to clean all battery connections and accessory connections to batteries as well.  


5.      I also pull my trolling motor prop to make sure any debris like fishing line is cleared from prop so it doesn't burn up my trolling motor.


6.      The big engine prop I also pull to remove any debris, you would be surprised what your props pick up fishing your favorite local lakes!


7.      Before I put the engine prop on I change the lower unit oil and also grease the prop shaft just as preventative maintenance.


8.      I also check to make sure water pump is working properly when engine is running and a good stream of water is coming from the motor as us Anglers like to call it..."Is my motor peeing?" Lol!  


9.      I also try to go over my jackplate and transom to make sure everything is tightened and torqued especially before hitting any type of rough water.


This is my boat maintenance routine even between tournaments! Hope this helps you have a safe and enjoyable fishing season!


Bridget Kristen Allen


Bass Fishing Media Staff Writer & Tournament Bass Pro


 



Tournament Tactics by Jose Rivera
Tips and tactics to help you catch more fish! When most of us think of tournament fishing it can be really intimidating, there’s the high performance boats, big bodies of water and top ranked anglers fishing for huge prizes. We see these anglers on TV catching huge fish and lots of them, but what you don’t see is all the pre tournament preparation that goes into being successful on the water. The tactics these anglers use can be applied to everyday fishing to help you catch more and bigger fish. It just takes something I like to call C.I.A. and No not the C.I.A., C.I.A. but the fishing C.I.A. The C.I.A. you haven’t heard about the one that stands for
Confidence, Information and Application. 
Confidence: Pro anglers build the confidence that is needed to compete by thinking positive and by being prepared. They do some homework on the lake, check their gear and have a game plan for their day on the water way before they ever see the lake. Thinking and being positive goes a long way!
Information: Gather all the information you can about the lake. Look at fishing reports, your fishing log, look for information about the lake online, call local tackle shops & get update lake info, talk to other anglers and plan your day on the water by going over a map of the lake at home.
Application: Ok you have looked at & studied the map you prepared all your gear (boat included), your tackle is organized and you have planned your day out on the lake. You have figured out where the fish should be by using seasonal patterns and all the information you have gathered. Trust me if you have done this when you get to the lake you are going to have the feeling of just absolutely knowing that you will catch fish. You will be prepared and feel confident that you are off to a good start. Now you just have to go out and apply the knowledge you have gathered on the water.
Here are a few Tournament Tips you can use to make your day on the lake successful.
Pre Tournament Preparation:
1. Get a Lake Map or use TFFM IMap System by having a map of the water you can locate underwater structure. Lake maps are key instruments in helping you figure out where the fish are you just have to base your search on seasonal patterns, water color and temperature. The map will also be helpful with navigation and I like to use the map as a fishing log, marking right on the map where I catch fish and the size of the catch.
If you are fishing a large body of water I’m sure you have heard a this 1000 times before break the lake down into sections. Pick a section of the lake to concentrate on don’t try and fish the whole lake in a day. This is where taking the time for map study will play a major role in your success.
2. Gear Prep – Get your tackle and boat in fishing ready condition, it’s just one less thing you have to worry about and having proper working quality gear will give you a piece of mind so all you have to worry is catching fish. Create a check list for your boat and gear: make sure everything is tightened, greased, working properly and organized. Make sure you have everything you need in ready to go condition.

Information – Do yourself a favor and get a fishing log/journal to keep a detailed record of your trips. The information that you can store in these logs will help you to put together a game plan for catching fish in the future by being able to revisit past trips to see what has worked before. Information like weather conditions, water temp, water clarity, location fished, lure used and moon phase just a few of the things having a journal can provide. As stated earlier call local tackle shops, do some boat ramp talking and search online for information. You will be surprised what you can learn if you just search hard enough. Talk to other anglers who know the lake and see what they are willing to share.

On the Water:

Pre- fishing tips: O the water is where it really counts! Your day was mapped out at home so go to your first planed fishing spot and start applying what you been researching.
During the day there are a few things you can do to help you catch more fish at tournament time such as not burning out a fishing hole during practice. When you hook a fish pre fishing don’t sit on the spot catching one fish after another, save that for tournament day. Instead go over the spot with your fish finder see what structure lies below the surface. Check to see what the fish are relating to on that spot was it a submerged rock, wood, grass or maybe a contour change. How deep was the water, what was the water temp. What was the water color? clear, dingy or muddy and what was your bait doing when the fish struck it? Pay attention to every detail and do that with every fish you catch while trying not to hook them. Something I like to do is cut the barb off my worm hook and I like to bend the hooks in on certain baits so I can shake fish off without sticking them during practice. The idea of pre fishing is to try and establish a pattern and figure out what the fish are hitting on not just going fishing for the day. Depending on the size of the body of water you are fishing, there maybe more than one pattern happening at the same time. You just have to find the most productive one! I find that staying focused and paying attention to the details is one of the most important and hardest things to do. I write “Focus” on the back of my hand so I don’t forget!
Lure selection: I let the time of year and cover I will be fishing dictate to me what I will tie on first. I resort back to my logbook to see what has worked for me in the past, what type of cover is in the lake and I check to see if I have fished it in similar conditions. When I get to the lake and see the water, I may decide change the bait’s color or size to adapt to water and weather conditions I am faced with. Having a good variety of baits tied on to cover any situation you may have will save you time on the water. Choose lures that can be fish at various speeds and depths some of my personal favorites are (Here come the plugs:) Of’ course I always have a VCL Baits JRiv Craw on by itself or as a trailer behind a Jig, Nothing beats an AR Lures Crank 65 fished on a Torque Power Rod or a Frog around the grass!Presentation: During the cast and retrieve of your lure it is important that you concentrate on every detail about the presentation and what could have made the fish react to it. Where did the bait land, what was the speed and pattern of the retrieve, what depth and path was the lure traveling in? Was the bait bouncing off the structure, was the fish suspended off to the side of the cover or maybe it was on the shady side of a stump. When a strike occurs try to figure out what triggered it? Any number or all of these things could be reason you got a bite. So try to remember what you did so you can repeat it.
I know there is a lot to think about but the more you adapt the C.I.A. theory to your fishing the more natural and easier it will become for you to catch more fish
.Bass Angler
Jose Rivera