1. FISHERMAN TODAY ARE MORE EDUCATED IN THE ART OF FISHING THAN EVER BEFORE. Ninety percent of your competition can pick-up a map and find the largest point with the deepest water adjacent to it, major inside turns or the north side of a spawning bay in the spring. Guess where ninety percent of your competition is going to prefish. I like to look for small secondary points, large flats with subtle contour changes or a long shoreline with no "visible" cover.
2. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR TIME ON THE WATER. My most productive way to find less pressured areas is to simply locate a large piece of structure, grab a G-Loomis rod with an All-Terrain Jig or the new All-Terrain Spinner bait, drop the trolling motor and go. I won't pick the trolling motor up for three or four hours. You'll be amazed at the number of subtle cuts, weed patches and small rock piles you can find that don't show up on a map. Though it takes time, these small variations can be dynamite and are less likely to have large amounts of pressure.
3. DON'T FALL FOR THE "I SAW SO AND SO FISHING THIS SPOT, I'M GOING TO CHECK IT OUT". You know what, in addition to "so and so" there are five others that are fishing that spot and each one of them took two, three or more fish off that spot pre-fishing. "Followers" seldom if ever do well in tourneys and when they do, you often never see them near the top again.
4. DO SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT THAN THE NORM. A great example was in a tournament last summer where All-Terrain pro team member Brad Cline went to the dark water on Lake Minnetonka with an All Terrain Stick and Jim Moynagh's Rock Jig while the rest of the field (me included) were out in the deep weeds and on the deep rocks. Brad won the tournament by over five pounds and never saw another boat all day. Doing your own thing is why certain anglers do well year after year.
5. STAY ONE STEP AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION. Don't rest on your laurels. Remember my third point, well you might be "so and so" and four others saw where you won the tournament and guess where they are prefishing for the next tournament. Doesn't do any good to get mad, keep prefishing new water and finding new, less pressured water, there is more out there than you think. Again, there are no short cuts and there is no substitute for time on the water.