If someone told me the fishing would be worse at West Point for the Flint River tournament last Sunday than it had been two weeks before in the Sportsman Club tournament I would not have believed them. I could not believe it would get harder to catch a bass, but it was.
In eight hot hours of casting 13 members and guests of the club brought in nine keeper bass weighing about 15 pounds. There were no limits and eight people didn’t catch a keeper. Only four of the bass were largemouth.
Niles Murray had two nice largemouth weighing 7.32 pounds for first and the one that weighed 5.82 pounds was big fish. My four, three spots and one largemouth, weighing 4.47 pounds was second, Jack Ridgeway, Niles partner, had one largemouth weighing 3.46 pounds for third and Chuck Croft had a spot weighing 1.43 pounds for fourth. My partner Jordan McDonald had a spot weighing .95 pounds for fifth and that was it!
Jordan and I started on a bank where I have caught fish before, hoping a bass would be feeding at daylight. We tried a variety of baits and Jordan got one hit on a topwater plug but missed it. After about 45 minutes as we worked out to a hump off that bank Jordan spotted schooling fish hitting on top across the creek.
I told him they looked like hybrids and, based on where they were feeding over deep water, I was sure they were. But we went over there and sure enough Jordan caught several hybrids on a jerkbait and I missed a few on a topwater plug that was too big for them to eat. Then Jordan hooked a strong fish that fought for a long time before pulling off.
We tried some more humps near deep water without a bite. Then we went to the point where I had caught two good largemouth two weeks before. The baitfish were still there and fish were under them, just like before, and we got some bites, but all we caught was a six inch spot and a warmouth.
About 9:30 we went to a roadbed and fished it hard and caught a couple of short spots on jig head worms.
Right at 11:00 I caught a 13 inch spot and then landed a second one the same size in the very next cast. Although we stayed there for over an hour we didn’t get another bite.
Just after noon we went to another point where I had caught a spot two weeks before and I saw baitfish with fish holding under them in 18 feet of water. I got a hit on my drop shot worm under them and landed a keeper largemouth. As soon as I put it in the livewell I dropped my bait to the bottom, felt a fish start swimming with it, set the hook and broke my line.
I have no idea why it broke. Although I was using only eight pound test line the first fish had pulled drag without breaking it. On the second fish my line popped with almost no pressure. I may have nicked it while unhooking the first fish.
At 1:00, with an hour left to fish, we ran to a brush pile in deep water where we had seen fish two weeks before but had not been able to catch anything. We rode over it and saw a lot of fish holding on it on the depthfinder.
I put out a marker and as soon as Jordan’s dropshot hit bottom he caught his keeper. While he was putting it in the livewell I dropped my bait down and caught my fourth keeper. Although we stayed there until we had to go in at 2:00 we did not get another bite. That was frustrating because we could see the fish holding around the brush but they would not bite.
I can’t recommend a bass fishing trip to West Point right now, but if you want to catch some hybrids it would be a good choice. The big school we saw was in the mouth of Turner Creek, just behind the island in the mouth of it.
Be there at first light and they will hit small topwater plugs, jerk baits, spoons and crankbaits. After the sun gets up and they quit schooling on top they will suspend over the channel and you can jig for them with spoons or bucktails, or catch them on live bait. You should be able to spot them on a depthfinder holding about 20 feet deep.
Hybrids fight hard and most of them will be fairly small, around two pounds. But the one Jordan lost was much bigger and you will have some of them, too. I don’t eat many hybrids since they taste so strong, but some folks like them fried.
When I do cook them I put filets from a three or four pounder in a pan, cover them with bacon strips and onion rings and bake them for about 45 minutes. I do like them cooked that way. The bacon and onions give them a good flavor and takes the strong fishy taste out of them.