Reading topo maps...
You mentioned we research the lake elevation. Can you elaborate on what that means?
What it means is you need to get the water elevation at the lake you are going to fish. Information is available from the different water & power departments, and many times posted on the internet. Once you have the lake elevations, you take the topographical map and you can color in the topo line at that elevation. Then look at your map below the water elevation and you're able to see your islands, humps, drop offs, long extended points, creek channels, and be able to figure out the various depths. I also like to color in the contour lines every 10' in a different color.
It makes it very easy to see the bottom changes. The closer the topo lines are together, the steeper the break. Look for islands next to creek channels, and long points that rise back up and then fall off. Look for secondary creek channels leading to spawning areas or flats. These are all good starting points, especially during pre spawn and the colder months. Good luck.