LAGRANGE, GA. — West Point Lake is on the rise due to recent rains and is mostly in a post-spawn mode. Like the last Elite Series event, at Arkansas' Bull Shoals Lake, it could be a tournament that requires an open mind and a different pattern every day.
Prior to the anglers' meeting Wednesday afternoon, we quizzed several competitors about who they'd pick to win at this 26,000-acre impoundment on the Chattahoochie River.
The last time the Elite Series came here, in early May 2011, local favorite Steve Kennedy won with a four-day total of 64 pounds, 14 ounces. Edwin Evers finished second with 62-13, and Ish Monroe was third with 61-13.
1) Steve Kennedy – "Of course, because of the last time we were here and his familiarity with the lake."
2) Davy Hite – "He just knows where the fish are in this kind of lake."
3) Bobby Lane – "He had a really good finish here the last time (8th), and I think he's getting dialed-in."
1) Kevin VanDam – "Because of the weather, and because he can chuck-and-wind."
2) Rick Morris – "The same for me."
3) Skeet Reese – "He's really good on these clear impoundments, he's good around the spawn, and he's good with a swimbait."
1) Steve Kennedy – "It's fishing tough, and he's got the most local knowledge."
2) Kevin VanDam – "There's going to be a lot of running-and-gunning, and that suits his style."
3) "Any frogger you want to pick, because there is lots of flooded vegetation. That includes Ish (Monroe), (Fred) Roumbanis and (Dean) Rojas."
1) Dean Rojas – "With all the stuff in the water, there's just got to be a frog bite, and he will find it."
2) Steve Kennedy – "He'll probably catch 'em again. He's spent too many days and too many years here. He's caught these fish's great grandparents."
3) Kevin Short – "I'm going to do something totally different from everybody else."
1) Jason Christie – "When you're on a roll, you're on a roll. That's a freight train coming down the rails."
2) Kevin VanDam – "He always finds a way to catch 'em."
3) Dean Rojas – "Because of the high water, and there's lots of trash in the water."
1) Edwin Evers – "He did well the last time here, and because he's hunting Angler of the Year. He's been close a couple of times, and I think he's on a mission this year."
2) Dean Rojas – "I like Dean because there's got to be a frog bite here. It looks froggy."
3) Greg Hackney – "I never bet against myself."
1) Todd Faircloth – "He's just really good at catching bass."
2) Tommy Biffle – "I don't really like Biffle, but I know when the water is high, he has a tendency to catch 'em."
3) Edwin Evers – "He's really the only angler that's had any consistency this season, other than Jason Christie."
1) Aaron Martens – "Because he winds all the time."
2) James Niggemeyer – "Because he's the nicest guy on the tour."
3) Zell Rowland – The Pop-R bite might be on."
1) Alton Jones – "He does really well in the spawn this time of year, and he finished in the top 12 (sixth) the last time we were here."
2) Steve Kennedy – "You almost have to pick him because he knows this lake so well. He has a lot of history here, and he knows how to catch the better quality fish."
3) Todd Faircloth – "Because he's so consistent. Because of that, he'll figure out a way to catch 'em here, and it could change every day."
1) James Niggemeyer – "Because he's got a good attitude. Everybody else has got their head down."
2) Steve Kennedy – "He knows every inch of this water."
3) Terry Scroggins – It's his type of fishing. There's potential here for some sight-fishing. And he's very good at finesse, which could come into play here as well."
Morizo Shimizu (who cracked-up the other anglers at his table with his picks)
1) Steve Kennedy – "Because he won the last time here. He's local, and he likes clear-water fishing, I think, I don’t know."
2) Dean Rojas – "He likes clear water, too."
3) Aaron Martens – "Because of clear water."
1) Steve Kennedy – "The way this lake is fishing now, he's got the most knowledge of where to go."
2) Kevin VanDam – "There's going to be a lot of running-and-gunning, which suits him."
3) Cliff Pace – "I room with him, and he hasn't got it figured out now. That's why I'm picking him, because he's still searching, and he knows how to put that together during a tournament."
1) Tommy Biffle – "This water is higher than I've ever seen it, so I'm going to pick Biffle up the river flipping somewhere."
2) Fred Roumbanis – "I'm going to pick Roumbanis throwing a frog somewhere, again because the water is high.
3) Kevin VanDam – "I'm going to go with VanDam throwing a deep crankbait somewhere because there's so much water flowing through this system right now."
1) Jason Christie – "Because he's on fire. Fishing is changing (due to fluctuating water levels and water clarity), and Jason just lays back and goes fishing.
2) Mike McClelland – "For the same reason. He just goes fishing."
3) Shaw Grigsby "Because so many of those fish are up shallow. He'll probably do well sight-fishing."