A two-pronged battle at next Elite

LAGRANGE, Ga. — Talk about a battle.

Bassmaster Elite Series pros will be fighting for a major title, $100,000 and a 2014 Bassmaster Classic berth when the Elite Series returns May 2-5 to LaGrange, Ga., for the West Point Lake Battle.

The event also promises some rod-to-rod combat in the ongoing Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year competition.

Four pros now in direct contention for the 2013 AOY title were Top 12 finishers the last time the Elite field was at West Point Lake. That puts the pressure on for finishes that were just as good as, or better than, what they turned in two years ago at West Point Lake in May 2011.

One of those four pros is the current leader in the points race, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. He finished second in 2011 at West Point. Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., sitting in fourth in the points standings, was third at that 2011 event. Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., third in AOY points, was seventh at West Point. Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., 10th in the AOY standings, ended in eighth place at the 2011 version of the West Point Battle.

Not to say that West Point defending champ Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., won’t put up a fight to claim double titles on the lake where he cut his fishing teeth as a kid.

Kennedy was victorious in 2011 with 64 pounds, 14 ounces. His winning margin was 2 pounds, 1 ounce over Evers, who had led the first two days, but dropped behind after losing a bass.

Evers is ready to do battle.

“I would like redemption at West Point,” Evers said. “I felt like I was on a really good pattern to win that tournament. I had the bites to win it.”

He looks back on the third day, when he was one bass short of a five-fish limit. He had the fifth bass hooked, but lost it when the bass wrapped itself around an underwater tree.

“I had my hand on it, but I couldn’t get it untangled from around the tree,” he recalled. “He got off.”

If he had boated that bass, “I could have won that tournament, hands-down,” he said.

Evers said West Point plays to his strengths because it’s a lake that can be patterned. One key factor he’s waiting to determine is water temperature. Last time, the fish were in postspawn mode, but this year it could be different.

In fact, Evers is not expecting the Chattahoochee River impoundment to fish the same as it did in 2011, even though the 2013 Battle will take place almost exactly two years later to the day.

“It’d be great if it was the same, but we rarely fish two events under similar conditions,” he said.

As far as the AOY race, Evers is laid back.

“I couldn’t ask to be in a better position, but there are a lot of people still in the running,” he said. “So much can happen.”

The pros will launch at 6:40 a.m. ET each day from Pyne Road Park (4481 Roanoke Road, LaGrange, GA 30240). Weigh-ins will be at the same location beginning at 3:15 p.m. ET.

Fans are invited to watch. All Bassmaster events are free and open to the public.

Bassmaster.com will present live, streaming video of the weigh-ins, real-time leaderboards, blogs and catch reports from the water, video reports, daily results and much more.

The West Point Lake Battle will air on ESPN at 10-11 a.m. ET May 12 on The Bassmasters TV show.