In an article a few months ago I mentioned how you should always approach an outing with a game plan, I have been asked since what exactly I meant by the term game plan. Nothing can impact your fishing results like time on the water but there are a few things that will consistently help you catch more fish. Building a game plan for me usually starts with my map. Making a game plan is like making anything else, the better the materials going in the better the product coming out. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting as good a map as you can find, in many cases I’ll spend a few extra bucks and buy several and compare them, some will show one feature that another leaves off and vice versa. Once I have my map I’ll check in with my network of fishing friends that have spent time on the lake in question. once again the crud in, crud out, theory applies. If you have helped them in the past with good info they’ll respond likewise. After consulting with my buds I begin looking to my map, in deciding on map locations to fish I first consider the time of year and what the fish “should” be doing. If it’s summertime the fish should be in areas the allow them deep water access and if possible shade. I believe many fisherman don’t consider the tremendous impact of shade on fish in the summertime. Once I have decided where to fish I begin allocating my time. I usually do a best and worse scenario, i.e. if I have no fish by 7:30 I’m going here, if I have 3 I’ll continue fishing the area until x time. I find that if I keep up with the time and have pre-planned spots number 2, 3, etc., the day doesn’t get away from me (specifically tournament days) the way they do if I’m not paying attention. I also feel more in control and have more confidence if I have already thought out a no fish at 10:00 game plan. That may sound stupid but a great example of this is in 1990 my partner and I were fishing the TABC championship on Richland. At 1;00 we had no keepers in the boat, between 1 and 1:20 we made 7 cast that netted 6 keepers, the best of which weighed 20 pounds even, we had just pulled up on our fourth spot of the day. Weather plays an important role in developing a game plan. Aside from the obvious, will the wind keep you from getting to the areas you want to fish, will it blow you off the water once you’re there, there are other factors to consider. First in the type baits you tie on, if the weather is going to be overcast typically the fish are going to be more scattered and a horizontal presentation or moving bait (blade, crankbait, buzz bait) will allow you to cover more water and hopefully catch more fish. If clear skies prevail then a vertical presentation will be in order (worms, jigs, jig & spoon). Another factor to consider that the weather affects is how good will the bite be. I consider this because if you have a norther move through the night before, or other conditions are going to make the fishing tough, I typically hunker down in an area that I believe is holding fish and fish very deliberately. If I believe everybody is going to have a tough day I can psyche myself into looking for very few bites through the course of the day, and still know I have a chance at winning, * A game plan only has to be as specific as you want it to be. I know some anglers that like to fly by the seat of their pants, but typically these are guys who spend allot of time (3+ days a week) on the water and have learned to adapt as they go (David Wharton as a great example) , but I find preplanning my best ally. Give it a try, maybe you will too.
– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide