Tournament Preparation Part 1: Understanding your Water

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With the tournament season just around the corner the RippinLip Outdoors team thought it would be a great idea to share all of our best practices when it comes to tournament fishing. We will do our best to set up anglers for success on the water during tournament time. Please know that these are practices that most tournament anglers use to give them the best chance to cash a check.

Part one of this series is called Understanding your Water. This will be a detailed subject that should not be taken lightly. Most successful anglers put in way more time studying their water rather than fishing on the water. Knowledge is power when it comes to understanding fishing.

Understanding your water means knowing the makeup of the water. This can be structure, cover, current and depth. These factors are the main things I will focus on for my starting point.

A great way to start your tournament preparation is make a checklist. A checklist can be used for many different projects involved with preparation. These checklists can work wonders when you find yourself working on your boat, organizing tackle, running a budget and planning your tournament lodging. For this article we will just stick with a checklist for understanding your water.


·Navionics Chips

·Google Maps


Lets breakdown each of these checklist ideas.


If at all possible be sure to pick up a topographic (topo) map of the lake you are fishing. Now I know from growing up in Minnesota that the MNDNR site has a topo map of most lakes in the state. This is a great resource if not the best one a tournament angler can find. This will cut your searching time on the water buy

a significant amount. The best place to find these maps would be your local tackle shop or a tackle shop that is near the tournament water you will be fishing.

Navionics Chips:

Navionics is the leading company in providing updated topographic maps of lakes in the majority of states. If you have a graph capable of using a NAV chip I recommend doing so. Paper maps are a starting point to searching out hotspots but a NAV chip will get you the exact GPS location of those hotspots. Being a new user to these chips can be frustrating so be sure to leave yourself some time to learn how to use them.

Google Maps:

Another great tool is Google maps. This free process can give an angler a bird’s eye view of the water they will be fishing. I can attest to the greatness of this application. You can search for maps by going to and clicking the maps hyperlink at the top of the page. Search for a city near the waters you will be fishing. Compare your paper maps to the Google map to give you a good idea of what it will look like out on the water.


In most southern reservoirs you can bet they will be drawn down during the winter months. The water is drawn down to make way for spring runoff that will flood the waters. This is a great time to go out and find hidden rock piles, brush piles and other cover. I just recently made a trip to High Rock Lake in central NC and was amazed at what I found. Here are a few photos of my trip.

Again these are just a few tips that our RippinLip team uses when preparing for tournaments. Be sure to leave enough time to do your research. This can be a time consuming commitment but I can guarantee it will pay off. Good luck with your 2011 tournament season and be sure to check back for the next part of our Tournament Preparation Series soon.

Born and raised in the state of 10,000 lakes I have been targeting every type of species the waters of Minnesota have to offer ever since I was handed my first fishing pole.

12 Comments on "Tournament Preparation Part 1: Understanding your Water"

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  6. Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good
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  7. Bill Kohls says:


    You know we are going to Rip Lip when it comes around to tournament time there.

  8. chris ferguson says:

    ma n can u just imagin how many bass at one time could b hanging on those rock piles or that one humpo alone its crazy to just think about asll the possiblities

  9. Drew says:

    I can’t agree more. Topo maps can be HUGE time savers in practice and sometimes can be used to salvage a tough tourney day. Tight lines!

  10. Bill Kohls says:


    They are one of the best tools you can have in your boat. If you can’t get the graph unit you are looking for you can find a map in most cases. Good luck out there. Rip some lip!

  11. Joe says:

    Really liking this post! I will definitely be using topo maps whenever I can!

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