West Point Buddy Tournament and Eating Spotted Bass

Last Saturday nine two-man teams fished a Potato Creek Bassmasters Buddy Tournament at West Point. I should say two-person teams. There were some wives fishing as well as children and grandkids. A club member could bring anyone they wanted as a partner. It was pretty day even if a little cool first thing that morning.

In this tournament each team could weigh in their best five bass, so it was really a per boat limit. I think all nine teams weighed in a limit. We had prizes for the top three places and big fish.

Jordan McDonald fished with me and, thanks to Jordan, we placed second with about 12.5 pounds and had big fish with a 5.87 pound largemouth Jordan landed at 2:00 PM. There were two other largemouth weighing over five pounds each weighed in, both by the first place team. They had five weighing over 14 pounds.

Jordan and I started throwing topwater baits on a point and quickly caught three small spotted bass, big enough to keep but not really what we wanted. Jordan set the pace for the day, catching the biggest of the three.

We fished shady banks until the sun got high and caught some more keeper spots but, again, not what we wanted. At about 10:00 we ran to a deep bank with two blown down trees on it. I caught a keeper largemouth on top over them but Jordan got a bigger one on a jig and pig, and lost two more good size fish.

By noon we had about ten fish and we found some keeper spots on a roadbed but only one of them was big enough to cull one of our best five. I caught it on a jig head worm. With only an hour left to fish, at 2:00 PM, we decided to try the trees one more time. Almost as soon as we stopped Jordan set the hook on a big fish.

I got the net and went to the back of the boat, but the way the fish fought, staying down deep, we thought it might be a catfish. And when it came under the boat down several feet deep I saw it and was sure it was a cat. I went back to the front of the boat to keep it from drifting into the trees.

Suddenly Jordan yelled “its a bass!” The fish had come to the top where he could see it. I managed to get back there and net the 5.87 that was big fish for the day. I think Jordan caught either three or four of the five we weighed in that day.

We had a lot of fun and could have kept over a dozen eating size spotted bass. That is a good plan if you want fish to eat. Go to West Point and catch spots to eat and let the largemouth go. Spots have about overrun the lake, but largemouth seem to be making something of a come-back there. A good many of the fish weighed in Saturday were largemouth.

Spots are not native to Georgia waters and are not good for most of our lakes. Fishermen have “mid-night stocked” them in Jackson and Russell, and they have gotten into West Point, Bartletts Ferry and even Clarks Hill, maybe by illegal stocking but maybe from natural movement from upstream lakes where they were illegally stocked many years ago.

Spots are fun to catch but they don’t grow as fast and don’t get as big as largemouth. Lanier is an exception with its deep clear water, standing timber and blueback herring, also stocked illegally. There they grow to quality size and fishermen think other lakes will be the same.

In Alabama lakes, especially the Coosa River lakes, they are native and do grow to quality size. But conditions there are different. Fishermen may have hurt our lakes over the long term by messing with Mother Nature.

So if you want some bass to eat go to a lake where spots are not native and keep a limit, ten per person, to eat. There is no size limit on them anywhere in Georgia except at Lanier so you can keep those 10 and 11 inch fish. They are a good eating size.

Catch a bunch of spots to eat, have some good meals and fun catching them, and help the lakes at the same time.