West Point Lake
La Grange, Georgia
12 fish, 25-08
this tournament in first place in the Angler of the Year race, and having
finished 2nd the last time we were here, I was looking forward to a
good finish which might give me a little bit of breathing room in the
standings. I didn’t stumble too badly, but I had an opportunity to really put
some daylight between me and everybody else and execution problems prevented me
from doing that.
had a bunch of rain heading into our practice period, which left the river area
of the lake exactly one foot higher than it was on the last competition day in
2011. That’s where I caught my fish the last time around, so you might think
I’d have focused my efforts up there, but I stayed away at first. I wanted to
let the water settle out and get right.
started off good but not great. I found a few bed fish, and I really started to
dial in the bite with a Megabass Spark Shad swimbait, but overall it was just a
matter of covering water and using a lot of different tactics. You might catch
one fish on a Vision 110 jerkbait in front of a dock, and then the next one on
a frog, and then another on a floating worm in the back of a pocket.
second day of practice the river still hadn’t settled out, so I stayed in the
lower portion of the lake and found more fish by keeping my foot on the
trolling motor pedal. By the third day, I had to travel up there to see what
was going on. I got a few bites, but never figured anything out that would lead
me to head back up there once the tournament started.
progressed, I generally disregarded the spotted bass bite. I certainly caught
quite a few of them, but I didn’t think they’d play a meaningful role at the
upper levels of the leaderboard. In hindsight, a few extra spots would have
gone a long way for me, as they did for many other competitors, so I probably
should have put a little more effort into figuring them out.
On the first
tournament day it was rainy and cloudy, which made it hard to see. I caught a
few spotted bass in the morning on a Sexy Shad Vision 110 and one decent fish
on a big swimbait, but I had trouble in the morning finding and catching my
bedding fish. Eventually I caught a few of them on a dropshot, but never
managed to put a good one in the boat. My limit weighed 7-12 and had me in a
tie for 40th place.
second day, I got into some largemouths right away. The key bite was a number
of fry guarders that absolutely annihilated a floating worm. The difference
maker, though, was a 5-10 largemouth that I found on a bed and convinced to eat
a dropshot. In a tournament where the weights are very tightly packed, and
three-pounders are fairly rare, a fish like that goes a long weight. It
contributed to my 14-06 total, the day’s heaviest bag, and moved me all the way
up into 7th place.
The big bag
on Day Two gave me a lot of confidence and left me less than 3 pounds out of
the lead. Another good bite or two and I’d be right back in the hunt.
Unfortunately, it was cloudy and rainy once again, and I let the negative
conditions get me a little bit frustrated. I managed a fish that weighed over
two pounds pretty early on the Spark Shad. Then I located a three and a four on
beds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see them too well, so I eventually gave up on
them and started hopping around the lake. I lost a four-pound sight fish at the
boat, then lost one off the end of a cypress tree, then had another giant blow
up on a Giant Dog-X and come unbuttoned.
12:30, I figured it was time to make my move if I wanted to have a shot at the
cut, so I ran as far up the river as I could, hoping that maybe the conditions
would be right. It turned out to be one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.
I checked a couple of places and nothing looked right, so I ran all the way
back down. Eventually I did manage to catch a 2 ½ pounder off of a bed, but it
was hooked outside of the mouth and I had to release it.
I ended the
day with just two little bass for 3-06, which put me back in 30th.
I’d figured that I’d need 15 pounds to do well, and I had the bites to do it,
but the reality is that if I’d caught just a few of the bass that bit I would
have been fishing again on Sunday. In fact, I would have been leading the
entire tournament. I missed the cut by four pounds. I’m still on top of the AOY
race, but my execution issues probably mean that I gave up 20 or 30 points.
That’s something you can’t do with this group of anglers, especially with
seasoned winners like KVD and Skeet right on my tail.
This week we
move just a little bit southwest to the Alabama River, another fishery we’ve
been on previously. It’s a waterway that I really enjoy, full of largemouths
and big spots, and you can probably win with either species. Right now after
all of the rain we’ve had the river should be rolling mud and high water. That
may change as the week progresses, so even if you dial in a current-related
pattern early in the week, there might not be sufficient current by the end of
competition. I’ll work hard to try to figure out the levels of the lakes above
where we’ll be fishing and then calculate how the conditions will change.
midpoint in the season, my relationship with Megabass has paid great dividends
in what has so far been a solid campaign. Because of the late spring throughout
the south, the Vision 110 jerkbait is still coming into play on a regular
basis. I’ve also been playing around with the Spark Shad quite a bit, too, and
it proved to be extremely valuable on West Point, producing some of my better
bites. Not only does it have an incredibly realistic profile, but you can
retrieve it extremely slowly and still generate a lot of tail movement. I look
forward to using both of these lures, along with many others, as our season
progresses and I continue my quest for an AOY title.