I’m really looking forward to competing in my first REDCREST this coming week on Lake Norman, even though I’d never seen the lake before practice. Championship events are always great because everyone will let it all hang out. I’ve been fortunate to fish the Forrest Wood Cup and was blessed to win the 2016 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American, and it’s great when everything is on the line for a single tournament.
We’re not here for points and everyone is going to make a plan that fits their strengths. That’s exactly what I’ll be doing at Norman.
That means focusing on those first big females that are coming up from deep water. I think my best shot to find the winning fish is to concentrate on docks and have the mentality that I’m only trying for seven or eight bites a day and hope they’re those better-quality fish.
My home lake would be considered Grand Lake, and it’s full of docks. That will always be part of your plan when you fish a tournament there, and I have plenty of experience with them. I know there’s no shortage of docks on Lake Norman, and that gave me some confidence when we started practice on Sunday. But the fact is that not all docks are the same.
In the Ozarks, we have so much rock on the bottom that you can’t drive a post for docks. That means that our docks are typically floating docks with cables to keep them in place. I’ve discovered that most of Norman’s docks are fixed and on wood poles. That’s how they build docks in many places, it’s cheaper and faster. It makes a huge difference in how you fish them and it should make it much easier to zero in on the better docks.
The docks with cables are twice as hard to fish because you can’t fish them quickly. You have to weave in and out of them. I fish all docks the same – no matter what kind of dock they are – since bass will always relate to the darkest place where they can have shade and conceal themselves. The difference on places like Norman is how much faster you can fish them. It’s “swing and go” because you have wide open casting angles without worrying about the cables.
That makes finding fish during our two days of practice a little easier. I’ll need to keep working to figure out the best areas and see if fish are out toward the main lake in the creeks, or if they may be pushed back further.
I see a lot of similarities between REDCREST and my biggest win, an FLW Tour event on Grand a few years back. That event was also in March and has a lot in common with this one: lots of docks with prespawn bass itching to move up. I love chasing big fish early in the year with bigger baits like a jig, and I believe I’ll have the chance to do that at Norman.
I think my odds are even better with the switch to a five-fish format for this event. I’m fine getting out deep and trying to catch a bunch with my Garmin LiveScope, but fishing docks is something I enjoy doing. I’m hoping it’s that easy and that I can find those sweet spots and the right docks to have a shot to win in my first-ever REDCREST.