“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

I just came across this quote and it struck me just how relevant it is to bass fishing. The most controllable aspect of bass fishing is without a doubt preparation. As a college angler, we are often unable to pre-fish due to limitations such as the inability to pack up and leave school for a week and the thinness of our wallets. Not being able to physically fish the area leading up to the tournament certainly has major disadvantages, and makes preparation that much more important. In the weeks leading up to every tournament there are several questions I will ask myself, and I will often lay awake thinking about the answers and what they might imply. Firstly, I will make sure I have a good topographic map of the lake or river system. Second, I will do as much research as I can on the current water level, and how exactly it has changed the dynamics of the lake. What part of the lake is no longer fishable, and does my map reflect this? What is the primary forage?

As a young angler, I have not had the opportunities to fish every lake I set out to compete in. I will be competing in over three national level tournaments this season, in states I have not even stepped foot in. For each tournament I have already begun asking myself, who do I know that lives in the area? Who do I know that has fished the lakes previously or has had success? Networking is an important aspect of tournament fishing, and while many people surely keep their best secrets to themselves, a majority of anglers will quickly help. I met an angler at a local club meeting just last week, that had fished Fort Loudon, TN (the lake of my next upcoming major tournament) for the last time in what he believed was the year 1996. I listened with open ears as he tried to remember every detail of his outings. His recollection of the lake amazed me as he described some of the same features I had been studying on my maps and plan to pre-fish in the upcoming week. Do I expect his same patterns to hold up? No.. but I will soak up every bit of information I can.

Preparation leads to confidence, and the combination of the two is just as deadly as any “secret” lure, and with a little bit of luck it can be the difference in earning the success we yearn for.

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