West Point home-state fave

LAGRANGE, Ga. — It’s common knowledge that J. Todd Tucker is the only pro from Georgia in this week’s Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on West Point Lake. But most people would assume that his Moultrie, Ga., address — about two hours away — means he doesn’t have significant experience on the Georgia-Alabama border lake.

Not true. He owns more West Point history than many in the Elite Series field. Some had never even seen the fishery before they arrived Monday for three days of practice.

“It’s not my home stomping ground or anything, but I’ve fished this lake a lot over the years,” he said from his boat deck Monday morning. “Still, I don’t have that deep a history on this lake, but I have places to go to.”

Those places weren’t looking productive during his first hours of practice. He was on his trolling motor, searching, trying to put something together.

While he looked, he offered a general overview: Spotted bass aren’t hard to come by, and almost everyone in the field should be able to limit. The trouble with a spotted-bass strategy is that the majority of the spots being caught now are on the small side.

“You can catch a limit of 12 to 13 pounds of spots, but the bigger spots are easier to catch in March,” he pointed out. “Now, the spawn is about over. The fish are in a mood, a little stressed out and harder to catch.”

Tucker’s main mission Monday was to figure out how to get the largemouth to bite.

“You have to concentrate on trying to get one or two bites from largemouth a day to go along with your spotted bass,” he said. “That’s usually the case here: One or two big bites a day is what you need. A 3 1/2- to 4-pounder makes a lot of difference this time of year.”

Tucker said he felt the key to doing well on West Point now is sticking to your plan, having confidence that a big largemouth or two can be caught.

The lake’s ongoing shad spawn could play a big role in the tournament, he said, but keying in on spawning shad would require four straight mornings of “right place, right time.”

“Whoever wins this thing, I feel like they’re going to win it in the first hour of the day, every morning. You need to be looking for that shad spawn and the bigger fish that are on the shad,” he explained. “When the largemouth move out and suspend, they get hard to find.”

How Tucker and others fare in the May 5-8 tournament out of LaGrange, Ga., will be covered extensively online at Bassmaster.com.