Bass tourney season about to get underway

For myself and many other anglers across Sunset Country that enjoy fishing in bass tournaments, the next couple of months are what we wait for all year.
Although the bass season is open all year round in Northwest Ontario, it is a catch and release only season through winter until July 1, in order to protect bass while they spawn in the spring.
The exception to this rule is that anglers are allowed to keep a couple of small fish under 13.75 inches on some waters.
The reasoning behind this rule is to allow anglers to keep a couple of small bass for shore lunch opportunities on some waters where other species may not be present. So, while we can legally catch bass throughout the spring, there are no tournaments until July.
The first Sunset Country bass tournament of the year will take place this weekend at Shoal Lake. Arguably the best bass fishery in the region this place is a fun tournament lake. Though the average size of the fish may not be as high as other bodies of water, the number of fish in this pond is spectacular.
There are usually about 75 teams that take part in this event every year and it is unlikely that any of the teams will fail to catch their five fish limit on each day of the two day event.
The key to success in any of the bass tournaments in the region is to bring in the largest five bass limit that you can during each day of the event.
Though luck is definitely a factor to some degree, the most successful anglers spend a few days practicing or pre-fishing before each tournament in order to try to figure out the best way to catch quality fish.
In a tournament situation, it is not necessarily about catching numbers, but rather the five biggest fish that you can.
So that being said, anglers may not fish spots that produce big numbers of fish or use lures that catch a lot of fish. Instead focus should be placed on catching big fish and using big fish techniques.
I like to spend at least a few days practicing for each tournament and the big thing that I try to decipher is the best pattern to put me in touch with big fish.
When I say patterns, what I mean is I try to learn something from every catch or encounter with bass that I have and over the course of a day or two use that information and duplicate it in other parts of the lake.
Everybody has their favourite spots that produce fish but more often that not, spots don’t produce all the time, especially in a high pressure tournament situation.
More important than spots is figuring out the type of structure or cover that most fish are relating to. Things like weeds, boulders, deep humps, shallow humps, sand.
All of these structural elements hold fish at different points during the season or during different weather conditions.
Once you figure out what fish are relating to, then you can experiment with lures to figure out what type of presentation the fish want the most.
Do they want fast moving horizontal baits or slow moving jigs bounced along the bottom? Once you put some of these pieces together, you can make calls on the water during the tournament that will significantly increase your chances of connecting with fish.
Patterns are very important in tournament fishing and in nearly all of the events that I have won or placed high in over the years, my partners and I have discovered some important pieces of information from the fish we see or catch during the practice days that we have used during the tournament.
Things like water level, water currents and weed growth change every year so a spot that produces one year may not be as productive the next.
Of course, the weather is yet another element that constantly causes change. It is important for anglers to lose the preconceived notions and try to be open minded and creative when looking for new fishing spots.
If anyone is interested in fishing the Shoal Lake tournament this weekend, they will be able to enter on Saturday morning at the tournament site.
The weather is looking good and the fish have been biting so it should be a fun weekend.

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