LA GRANGE, Ga. -- West Point Lake might well reshape the look of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Of the top pros, only one is optimistic about this week’s event: leader Alton Jones.
“I think that I need to put the fact that I’m leading the race out of my mind and focus on the job at hand: catching as many fish as possible this week,” Jones said. “I’ve always liked tough tournaments; it makes it a thinking man’s game. The thing that will make a big difference here is getting that one extra quality fish a day.”
While he may be the only one of the top four optimistic about West Point, Jones and the other AOY hopefuls see eye-to-eye about the fact that the fishery on the Georgia-Alabama border will be very different from the first four events of the season.
“I don’t care who thinks they’re on ‘em, this lake is a hard lake, and it’s not going to take a lot of weight to do well,” said Kevin VanDam, who sits in third place. “The thing that won’t happen is the winner will get all of his fish from one spot. It’s hero or zero stuff out there.
“I had one really good day of practice, and one really bad day. I didn’t do anything different between the two, either. I’m just looking for a few areas each day. It’d be really easy to go out there and not catch anything at all.”
Reports that VanDam is struggling isn’t unusual. That’s the common trend from most of the field after practice. The tough environment, however, is a scenario that VanDam thrives in.
“I like tough events where you’ve got to struggle mentally,” he said. “A good bite here or there makes all the difference in the world. We’ve been so spoiled in the Elite Series the last few years by going to a bunch of good lakes. This isn’t a horrible lake; the timing is tough. These next two tournaments are going to be critical for Angler of the Year.”
Scroggins, second to Jones, echoed the sentiment that a tough-fishing West Point can shake up the AOY race.
“I’m more worried about this event than any other,” Scroggins said. “These tough tournaments are the easiest to win, but you can also fall on your face really easily. I’m going to take these last few events one at a time, and hope to survive this one especially.”
Chris Lane, taking the advice of his brother Bobby, is trying to take a laid-back approach to the Pride of Georgia.
“I’m just trying to figure out how to catch a fish,” Lane said with Bobby eying him from across the table. “West Point can be fun, but it can also be tough. Being in fourth in the points puts a little pressure on me, but I’m going to try and stay focused, go out and get paid. That’s what got me here.”
Lane is taking some advice from current events, as well.
“I heard on the news last night that the guy who shot Osama bin Laden had to have a positive attitude,” he said, “so that’s what I’m going to do; get out there and have a positive attitude.”