Lessons from West Point

I ran across something very interesting last week on West Point Lake. It only worked for one day, but it’s worth talking about because it’s the sort of thing that you might be able to use in your fishing.

There was a strong, early morning shad-related bite for most of us. It wasn’t anything fancy. If you found the shad — some were feeding and some were spawning — you found the bass.

During practice, I spotted a square, concrete water intake. All four sides were covered in algae, scum and slime. When boats would go by the area, water rolled around it and splashed up against the concrete walls. This activated the shad. They went crazy.

You could see hundreds of them — thousands maybe — flipping and jumping against the wall. I’m guessing they were feeding, but I can’t be sure about that. One thing I am sure about, though, is that their activity fired up the bass. In less than a minute they’d start busting the surface and feeding on the shad.

The first day of the tournament was a classic topwater opportunity. I walked a Zara Spook through the commotion. It worked perfectly, but only if you slapped it against one of the concrete walls. Again, I’m not sure why hitting the wall was so important but it was. My guess is that the noise excited the bass, but it could also have been the momentary hesitation of the bait as it bounced off the concrete.

After a while, the Spook bite turned into a bladed jig bite. When that bite slowed down, I caught a few more with a weightless Salty Sling. It was a great day with a great bite. I finished the day in 31st place. Not great, but well within striking distance of a check.

And then came Day Two.

I went back to the same spot and was pleasantly surprised to find the shad doing the same thing. But the bass were nowhere to be found. I later learned they had been pulling water the first day until about 6:00 a.m. On the second day they stopped at 3:00 a.m. That was the difference.

When it was all said and done, I missed the first cut by a few ounces. That’s three tournaments out of five in which I missed by less than a pound. It’s frustrating. Hopefully, things will change this week. I have a good history on Lake Murray although it’s changed a lot since the last time I fished it.

At one time grass would grow under 35 feet of water here — the water is crystal clear — but this year I can’t find any. It’s as if a giant vacuum cleaner came along and sucked it all up. I can’t even find dead weeds in this place.

Weeds or no weeds, I’m hoping to cash a check next week, maybe a big one. Wish me luck.

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