Pre-tournament preparation is important – but don’t get too carried away – I’ll explain. Before tournaments its always nice to have some “local” contacts – maybe a friend, bait shop, lake resident – who knows what the current status of the lake is – where the “hot bite” is going, what technique is being used, what size fish are being caught. This is great “starter” information – although rarely will it produce a high finish in tournaments.
Next, try to determine what “state” the fish are in to try to guess where the biggest concentration of fish might be. Spawn (need to find gravelly areas, incoming streams, spawning marshes…), post-spawn (feeding areas close to spawning areas – might include open water areas if on the great lakes), summertime (flats, or structure close to deep water) etc. Often a good topographical map will be helpful in this stage.
Third, try to “guess” what the best technique might be and make sure you’ve got the right tackle for those presentations.
Now, back to my first statement – don’t get too carried away. I find there is only so much you can (or want) to do before getting to the water. Often, the “hot bite” or the “easy limit” you heard about was last week’s bite and you can waste a lot of time fishing memories (or worse yet someone else’s memories). Take what you know and search for the walleyes. Use your fish finder and a good underwater camera to try to locate fish. Based on where their found experiment with a variety of techniques – hopefully wiring up a productive pattern.
Sure I keep an open ear to rumors about what’s supposedly happening on the water. But nothing beats figuring out a location and technique that works for you – one you have confidence with to compete at a high level during the tournament.