Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prep for Lake Shelbyville Tournament (4/29)

Tournament number 2 is finally on the horizon, got my gear all packed up and ready to go to hit the road tomorrow afternoon.  This tournament will be a little different this time around because I have never fished this lake, and I will actually have a full practice day to see if I can develop some sort of pattern before Sunday.

The inner workings of tournament fishing is still really new to me so I have been taking it in stride learning the ins and outs of what I really need to focus on.  The Shelbyville tournament is actually an ABA (American Bass Anglers) tournament, which is a separate tournament trail from our regular club tournaments.  Even though this is the case, we are using a couple of the ABA tournaments as our regular season club point tournaments since the trail is technically still under the FLW division.  One thing I recommend to all new tournament anglers...if you are fishing in more than one tournament trail you have to be a member of that tournament trail in order to participate.  Good thing I was reminded of this because I just bought my membership a couple days ago and registered online for this tournament.  Without the membership, I would not be eligible to compete. What will be nice though is that I can compete in any ABA tournament outside of my club if I decide to do so in the future.

Pre-fishing is a relatively new thing to me also so here are a few things that have helped to speed me up over the last few weeks...
  • Topographic Maps of Lake Shelbyville
  • Weather patterns
  • Recent tournament weigh ins and weigh ins from last year
  • Average fish size and bigger fish for the lake
  • Current water clarity and water temperature
  • Prominent food sources
  • Prominent type of cover
  • Talking to other people who have pre-fished the lake
  • Average water depths
Having an idea of all of these things before you even see the lake can be very useful in helping you break your game plan down into smaller chunks.  The topographic maps can usually be found online.  Some of the better ones take some digging but I managed to scrounge up a few decent ones.  Since this is an Army Corps of Engineers lake, some really detailed topographic maps can be had relatively easily.

The weather has been nice, mostly in the 70's all week but starting today the temperatures have dropped down into the 50's.  This means a big cold front has just moved into the area and the fish might be harder to catch.  Finesse tactics as well as slower reaction strike presentations might work better than anything else come Sunday.

After reviewing recent tournament weigh ins it was evident that there is some size to most of the fish in the lake. 1.5 to 2.7 lbs seem to be the average size with a few fish reported in the 5 to 6 pound range from previous years.  A tournament that took place a couple weeks later this time last year had a winning weight of 17.75 lbs.  The weather conditions probably weren't the same, but I know now that it will probably take around 3 lbs a fish to come close to first depending on how the rest of the field fares.

After speaking with one of the other guys from our club who pre-fished the lake, the water clarity has been stained the last couple weeks. Now with the cold front and the rain coming on Saturday it will be a guarantee that the water temperature will be slightly colder and stained for Sunday.  He also let me know that a lot of the fish have been feeding on shad, so with the weather patterns and the time of year...the fish are probably likely to be in their pre-spawn staging areas or possibly backing off more now to deeper water with the cold front.

Another member in our club who fishes Shelbyville quite a bit has helped key me into the type of cover that I can expect this time of year....rock and wood.  There are a few old road beds that could potentially hold fish as well as numerous stumps and lay downs in the channels and fingers of the lake.  So both will be worked over pretty well to see what form of structure the bass are keying in on.  Water depth of the lake varies depending on where you are at from 5 to 40 ft, but once the structure is patterned...the water depth that they are holding at will be the next key to the puzzle.

So what do I get from all of that?

This is the dilemma now of the non-boater.  Even if I developed a pattern on Saturday I am at the mercy of my boater that is chosen for me come tournament day.  Even though this is the case, I should still have anything I learned in practice in my back pocket just in case.  Finesse techniques will probably be more effective with the cold water, such as dropshotting and shakeyheads.  Dark colors as well as really bright colors will have to be used since the water is stained.  Reaction baits with a lot of rattle and water displacement such as Colorado blade Spinnerbaits, rattling jigs, rat-l-traps, crankbaits, and chatterbaits will probably be used.  Also shad style lures will probably be productive since most of the fish have been keying on shad this past week.  So jerkbaits and soft plastic jerkbaits can be added to the list as well.

I plan on bringing only 5 rods and reels with me to the tournament so this is what I limited myself to...

(2) Crankbait setups for rat-l-traps, jerkbaits, squarebills, and deeper divers.
(1) Finesse spinning setup for dropshot, shakeyheads, and flickshake
(1) Heavier jig setup for swimjigs, rattling jigs, and swimbaits.
(1) Spinnerbait setup for chatterbaits and spinnerbaits.

Some of my starting lures will include...

  • Shad pattern or all White spinnerbait and chatterbait
  • 3/8 oz black/blue rattling jig
  • Dark Texas rigged craw/creature bait
  • Black/Silver Lucky Craft Pointer and Rapala Shallow shad Rap
  • Black/chartreuse and Black Silver 1.5 and 2.5
  • Zoom Finesse worm and Roboworm for finesse techniques
  • Silver/Black Back Red Eye shad
I am sure other techniques will work there way in, but it is always good to start out with your confidence baits.  After taking the time to go through my game plan I feel more mentally prepared even though I haven't set eyes on the lake yet.  I will shoot out a short update Saturday night with my progress and let you guys know how I am doing so far.  20 boats will be at the tournament come Sunday so this will be double the size of our last tournament.

Wish me luck, and tight lines!



  1. Good luck Fluke we are pulling for you! What a great blog and I really hope you do well. This is Marty. It says unknown when I post.

  2. Thanks guys, we will see how it goes...I am ready to hit the water!

  3. I've fished there twice, great lake. Tons of yellow bass and crappie. You will get some by catch, it will be good for your freezer. :D