This is the seventh professional level tournament that B.A.S.S. has held on West Point Lake. Over the years, the weight of a big bass on WPL has actually gone down some. Joe Garner won big bass honors at the 1977 Alabama Invitational with a hefty largemouth that weighed 8-11 — and the lake (though not the bass) was not even three years old then). A year later, James Thomas had one that weighed 7-15 and was the biggest at that Invitational.
At the 1986 Georgia Invitational on WPL, Mike Johnson caught the biggest bass in B.A.S.S.'s history at the venue — a 10-3. Since then, tournament lunker weights have been slipping. In 1987, big fish was 9-0. In 2005, it was 7-7. At the 2011 Elite tournament on the lake, big bass honors went to former Elite pro Dustin Wilks for his 7-8 largemouth.
More on this in a few minutes.
As you can plainly see, the best shutter speed to use on your SLR camera to capture Brandon Palaniuk catching a nice bass is 1/400.
Greg Vinson Major Cull! By Marshal Todd Shearin.
Jonathon Vandam with a 1-pound spotted bass.
B.A.S.S. has been coming to West Point Lake for about as long as there's been a West Point Lake to come to. It was impounded in 1974, and B.A.S.S. held Alabama Invitationals there in 1977 and 1978. They were called "Alabama" Invitationals and not "Georgia" Invitationals because the host city for the first two events was Lanett, Ala. The next two invitationals on West Point were held out of LaGrange, Ga., and were therefore Georgia Invitationals. Lanett hosted its last B.A.S.S. professional event on West Point in 2005. LaGrange has hosted both of the Elite events on the reservoir.
The first B.A.S.S. event on West Point was won by the legendary Roland Martin, and Rick Clunn caught the biggest bass on the final day (a 5-7 largemouth). Of course, Clunn is competing in the Elite tournament on West Point this week — an amazing connection to an event that was almost 36 years ago.
A few off and on rain showers have fallen this morning but nothing much more powerful than a sprinkle... so far anyway.
A 50% chance for the rest of the day, which is about as vague of a forecast as you could hope for. One thing's for sure, we have plenty of cloud cover... more so than in practice.
The weather will again be the wild card that throws a kink in some game plans and allows some of the guys a few bites that thy wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Shad spawns typically last further into the day under these conditions and sight fish are harder to see.
We'll have to wait and see what the dominant deal is on West Point today. But whatever works today should hold at least another day or two as rain is predicted for most of the weekend.
Charlie Hartley is fishing a line of flooded trees. We've seen several different pros fishing similar places with varying success. Hartley says he has two little ones. He is getting close to a tree that has an ospreys nest on top of it. The osprey is on the nest and griping at Hartley.
"I caught one under that osprey in practice," Hartley says. He tries to sweet talk the bird as be casts under the nest. He sets the hook and and misses as the osprey takes to the air.
We won't really know what these anglers are using and how they are using them until this event gets a day or two older. But Jay Kumar is our consummate pattern master. His web site BassGold.com has been a God-send to anglers who like plying new water and want to get some usable information on what could or should be working.
According to BassGold:
A big part of BassGold reports takes into account the shad spawn. If that is taking place or the remnants of one is still around, then swimbaits, spinnerbaits and topwaters will likely be a factor. Again, we will know more once some of these anglers become more forthcoming. See more BassGold analysis of West Point Lake.
Paul Elias landed a small keeper just as we pulled up to him. He's casting to a point. It's his first bass of the day.
From what I've seen thus far, the bite is painfully slow. If things don't pick up, we're going to see lots of light bags coming to the scales.
Elias sets the hook and whiffs. He's a got a spinning outfit in his hands right now.
Greg Hackney just caught that bed fish. That was fun! Gotta love it when a pro calls the shot.
He thinks he has another one spotted and is working that one.
He is looking for every inch of height to better see this one.
Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Russell Sanders.