We boated across the main lake where there's a strong chop and found Kevin VanDam in a quiet pocket moving fast and casting hard, which is his MO.
He seines 50 yards of bank, pulls up the trolling motor and races off. We didn't see him catch one and don't know if he has any.
Steve Kennedy has a little something up his sleeve.
The water is high. We've heard that from several guys this week. But how high?
"It's a foot and a half over full pool and 3 or 4 feet higher than it was the last time we were here," said Kennedy.
"These used to be trees but now they're bushes," said Kennedy in reference to the cypress trees he was pitching to. He set the hook on a small spot and tossed it back.
"The water's so high that all these little guys are up here."
High water and a slower spring is plaguing Kennedy's pattern from last year. The swimbait bite that won him the last Elite on West Point is off.
"I had one good bite on it in all of practice."
One good bite won't win an Elite event. But versatility is what make Elite anglers elite. Kennedy let me in on a little deal he has going but doesn't want to reveal to the public just yet.
"I did it all day during practice one day and had two huge bites that I didn't set the hook on."
West Point is at full pool. There's plenty of shoreline cover for the bass to snuggle up to.
It's a cool, overcast spring morning — ideal fishing conditions. We pulled up near Ish Monroe a few minutes ago. He's moving fast and switching rods. He has thrown six different baits in less than 10 minutes.
He's not happy. He lost a 5-pound bass that jumped off to before we arrived.
The wind is pushing Monroe's boat quickly along the bank. I heard talk that there were some bass on beds, but the overcast conditions and the choppy water will make them hard to see. Snyder believes that 85 percent of the bass have already spawned.
Hen turkeys are yelping nearby. A Tom gobbles. Wish I had my 12 gauge with me.
Steve Kennedy is running and gunning like a mad man this morning. If the early bird gets the worm, the early angler catches the fish. In the 20 minutes I've spent with Steve, he's hit around 10-12 spots.
Several times he hasn't even picked up his trolling motor or put it down. If it's up, he'll coast in to a spot on the momentum of his big motor. If it's down, he'll jump up on plane, just clearing the water with the foot of his trolling motor. He'll make three casts and go again.
I asked if this was just a morning deal or if he'd fish this fast all day. He has two techniques going, one more finesse and one more power related. This run and gun theme is more geared toward the power fishing, early bite.
Although we have a front moving in, Kennedy doesn't seem to think that will prolong this early deal.
West Point Lake is one of those picturesque southern lakes surrounded by orange, clay banks and pine plantations. Granted the Elite Series travels to some of the most beautiful places in the country. If we created a list to go along with our 100 Best Bass Lakes but included "picturesque" as a part of the qualifications, then West Point Lake would certainly be a top contender.
To get an idea of how beautiful this lake is, check out this gallery of West Point Lake from the air in 2011.
In the background, you will see a lake worth seeing in photos or in person.
Fletcher Shryock pitches to a bed early on Day One. He hooked a fish a few casts later but lost it. It was approximately 4 pounds. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Tim Patterson.
It's Day One, and I'm riding with photographer Darren Jacobson of Peshtigo, Wis. Our boat driver is John Snyder of Marietta, Ga. Snyder is a fishing guide at West Point Lake. If you need a good guide, he's your man. You can reach him at 770-262-2468 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We started in Stroud Creek because many of the Elite Series pros fished here two years ago, including Ish Monroe, who finished in the top five.
The first pro we come across is Tommy Biffle. He's alternating rods and caught a 3-pound largemouth. He's off to a good start.
"I didn't catch squat in practice," Biffle says smiling.
Greg Vinson shows us his second keeper. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Todd Shearin.
Three casts with a frog, then three with a senko to a piece of pole timber. Nothing.
Jig time! It did not take long for him to bring out the weapon. Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Russell Sanders.