With the 2017 River Bassin’ Tournament Trail, we’ll see fewer (but on a larger scale) regional events held in 6 key areas with the trail ending in Tennessee at the championships. Given the fact that events will be spread out a bit in a geographical sense, I figured this would be a good time to share my process. I use four different ways of checking on the prospective waterways. Maps and imaging, flow and level gauges, sonar imaging if available, and of course phone a friend!
First off, Google maps is your best friend. Turn on satellite view and you can easily find launch sites. Whether they are boat launches, gravel pull offs, parks, parking lots, schools, or whatever. Shannon and I have used these and more. Remember that switching from imaging to maps can show small roads, trails, and creeks that can broaden your options. You can also measure distance rather accurately helping to weigh your options
Next, I look at river flows, and levels. For this I’ve used the USGS website, and an app called “river app”. I use these resources just as equally for rivers I frequent and places I’m going for the first time. You can look up the stretch you are interested in. It allows you to see the current level and flow. And you can also stretch it out over time to see what the average is. You can find out if it is on a rise or fall as well.
Sonar can also help find out more on rivers that appear flat in the satellite imagery. Navionics is what I tend to use. Either web app, or the phone app. It usually doesn’t have too much info but sometimes she’ll surprise you with a little. Usually on the larger rivers.
And one of the best options. Friends. I’m sure by now most of us have friends all over the place. Ask around, see if anyone has any information for you. I’m not saying ask for spots, more so maybe sections to stay away from. Obstacles to take into consideration when calculating time on the water. Things of that nature.
I always try to get to a river early enough to get on the water before game day. But in the event pre-fishing is not possible, I always get there soon enough to drive the river. Get eyes on it as much as possible. Stopping at bridges or anywhere you can walk down and look at it. See if there are obstacles, water clarity, or any other bits of information that will help you prepare for tournament day.
Put all these resources together, get out there, and catch some monsters. Good Luck!