Tips and Techniques to Approaching a Lake!

After winning a tournament at Clark Hill Lake in McCormick, SC and placing 3rd in it as well last year, I would like to share my secret to success:
1st off, you must take a look at your surroundings, ask yourselft.. what am I going to be predominantly fishing? Docks? Points? Beds? Overhang? In my case since the fish were already off beds all I was practically able to fish were the points, which were rocky and came out about 50 yards before they dropped off. 
2nd, you must take into consideration the weather, which in my case was very stormy, cold, and windy on the practice day, and hot, dry, and calm on the tournament day. After taking into consideration the weather you must then choose the correct color and type of bait.
3rd, You must use the right equipment!!!! VERY vital key to success!!

One of the biggest mistakes any fisherman can make is assuming that they already know what the fish are going to be biting, a mindset like this could be the difference between winning a new bass boat in a tournament or losing a tournament. That is why I like to take the approach of a new lake and decide from scratch where, what, and how I will be fishing. Lets say the fish have moved off beds and are now on a rocky point where the herring are spawning.. and it is rainy, windy, and cold, I would assume the bass are biting herring so I would reach in my tackle box and pull out a bait that resembles a herring, but wait? It is windy, so instead of whipping out a big deep diving crankbait I need to think... a bass is going to want to bite something swimming near the top of the water in wind, so I think I will go with either a Zoom Fluke or a small Torpedo. 
*REMEMBER* When fishing a point you don't want to get right up next to the shore, you want to hang out a good 50 yards off of the point! Use your sonar to glance at the bottom and see how the point looks as well!
As for equipment goes, if I am fishing a top water bait I generally go towards my baitcaster, one with a higher gear ratio (6.4.1 and up) because you want to keep as much tension on the fish as possible.. you never know if the fish is going to bite the bait and swim right at you! As for rods go I use a 6'6" Medium-Heavy Action rod. I tend to be more conservative when it comes to line using 12 pound Stren Monofilament (it does the job quite well). My set up brand wise is a Bass Pro Qualifier Reel (6.4.1 Ratio), an E21 Carrot Stick rod (6'6" MH). 
Anyways.. the whole purpose to this article was just to say, "Do not approach a lake that you've never fished like you already know it." Take into consideration the conditions, and all that good stuff! You can even cheat a little and check in with your local bait and tackle store to see what the reports are! 
Good luck to you all!
-Andy Overgaard

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