Why Your Prefish was Great but Your Derby Day Sucked!

Do you typically “win” prefish? But nobody, including your wife or girlfriend or worse yet, your tournament partner believe that you are really “on the fish” anymore?  Since that’s never happened to me, I had to ask some other people about what that’s like.

Seriously, it’s happened to all of us.  But that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable when it happens to you.  It’s really part of a larger issue about “How to Prefish” for a tournament, but for now, we are going to look at the basic issues involved.

It’s that time of year when the tournament season is about to get started and you are making plans for going “prefishing”.  Prefishing may be the most widely done thing in bass fishing that is the least talked about.  So let’s attempt to knock down some of those walls.

Below are the top 8 reasons why your prefish was great but your derby day sucked:

During prefish, you just went fishing

You really didn’t worry about catching them so much, and as a consequence you caught them.  Your mind just processes information so much better when you give it some freedom to be wrong.  In prefish we allow, heck, even encourage ourselves to be wrong so we can “eliminate” water.  Come derby day, we don’t give ourselves that same freedom to be wrong and cut off our options.

During prefish, you checked on what you knew and used that as a template to learn some other new areas

The weekend before, you were looking for patterns and using information gathered while fishing to help you build those patterns.  During the tournament, you cut that process off and just went out and tried to duplicate the pattern from prefish.

During prefish, the fishing pressure was light

Lots of prefishing is won during the week(s) before the event and very often on days when the pressure from other boats, trolling motors, electronics and lures were light to non-existent.  If you’ve ever had a great day of “scouting” and then found that the opening day of hunting season was much different then I rest my case.

During prefish, you were looking to make sense of what was going on

During practice, you were all eyes and ears.  You gathered in all the information there was.  That’s typically what we do when we are in learning or discovery mode.  But then the tournament comes around and you are in “execution” mode.  You’ve convinced yourself that you have to perform and that all the information gathering and learning was already done.

During prefish, you adjusted to the conditions for that day

You didn’t try to force that topwater bite in whitecaps or went to flipping when the water was too low.  You used the tools according to the situation you were in.  When the tournament comes around you try to use those same tools even though the conditions have changed dramatically.

During prefish, you felt more open to experimenting with lures and retrieves

You caught that one fish after a backlash and then realized that you needed to slow it down.  Or you had fish reacting to you bumping your bait off of objects so you start running into things with your spinnerbait on purpose.  During the derby, you start worrying about not backlashing and not getting hung-up.

During prefish, you tried lots of things, fished a lot of areas and eventually ran into them

During practice, it didn’t make any sense to sit in one place for hours…whether you were catching them or not.  In either case, it makes sense to move along.  Eventually, well, you get lucky and run into them.  You are typically much more efficient during prefish.  When the tournament rolls around, you tell yourself to “go big or go home” and force the issue on the spots that worked in practice.

You focus on the wrong feedback from practice

During prefish, you caught a 6-pounder on a green thing-a-ma-jig with purple and gold flakes and 17 strands of living rubber with a 3.257 inch “hog catcher” trailer while wearing your lucky fishing hat and that pair of underwear just after having that particular gut-bomb burrito from that mini-mart for breakfast.  During the tournament despite having recreated all of those things from prefish, you can’t catch even a 3-pounder because you didn’t realize why that big fish bit in the first place.


Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I really enjoyed this piece, its so easy to fall victim to all these. Its nice every once in awhile to read something that really intrigues me rather then some script my teachers make me here at school! LOL