BASS Returns to West Point Lake; First Southern Open of the Season

Lanett, Ala. – Anglers haven’t competitively fished a BASS event on West Point Lake since 1987. This weekend, that 18-year-old is hiatus about to end.

Hundreds of anglers are kicking off the Bassmaster Southern Open series, June 24-26, on the 25,900-acre West Point Lake.

So after being gone so long, how do competitors expect to perform on West Point Lake?

“It’s been a really tough bite out there,” said angler Fred Bland of Birmingham, Ala. “The water temperature, water color and lake level are in tact, but they’re just not biting. The spotted bass are deep, but I can’t get those 14-inch bass to bite.”

Bland, who finished 28th in last year’s Southern Open points standings, says this lack of activity is unusual for this time of year. Still, Bland is finding most of his bass between 20 and 30 feet and believes he can put together a limit from deep water.

Likewise, Allen Armour of Dunwoody, Ga., has been searching for the deep-water bite, but feels shallow waters will produce his limit.

“Most bites will come on a shallow buzz bait,” said Armour. “But the shallow water fish are going to feel more pressure in this tournament, and so today, I’ve tried to find deeper fish and get the bigger bite.”

Armour has fished BASS events since 1992. He finished 49th in the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. The father of three then took a hiatus from the sport, but West Point Lake proved to be too luring for him to stay away.

“I learned to tournament fish here in 1988 so it has always been a special place,” said Armour. “When I found out the Opens were going to fish in a place with such great memories, I got so excited I had to ask my wife for permission to come back and fish.”

Armour’s mostly throwing Carolina rigs and topwater baits in depths of 11 to 30 feet. For the shallow-water bite, he’s fishing along steep banks with timber, and for the deep-water bite, he’s searching for stumps and rocks.

Two hundred boaters and 200 non-boaters will fill the field in this weekend’s Southern Open. The field will be cut to the top 50 boaters and 50 non-boaters after the second day of fishing. Armour predicts that 18 pounds will make the cut to the final day of fishing and 15 pounds a day will win the tournament.

“Right now I’m just trying to fish the best I can,” said Armour. “More than anything, I just want to enjoy being out there.”

Anglers will launch at 6:15 a.m. and weigh-in at the Southern Harbor Resort and Marina at 2:30 p.m.

The next stop on the Southern Open schedule is Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala., Sept. 22-24. The Southern Open will close on Oct. 27-29, on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla., site of the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, which includes the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the Bassmaster Open Series include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Toyota, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Local sponsors include the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit