Walters edges ahead on West Point  - Major League Fishing

Walters edges ahead on West Point 

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Todd Walters finished Day 2 in the lead with 10 bass weighing 31-10 Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Todd Walters.
March 2, 2024 • Jody White • Invitationals

LaGRANGE, Ga. – Weighing 18 pounds, 15 ounces on Day 2, Todd Walters rocketed up from 32nd place to take the lead at Stop 2 Presented by Suzuki on West Point Lake

With a 31-10 total, Walters is 5 ounces clear of Derik Hudson and 11 ounces ahead of Day 1 leader Tyler Stewart entering Championship Sunday. Less than 4 pounds separates first place from ninth, so the final day of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event promises to be thrilling. 

Staying shallow all day helped Todd Walters roll up the leaderboard. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

Walters leverages largemouth to move up 

Dock talk entering the event suggested that big largemouth would be key for the top performers, though perhaps difficult to find consistently. Through two days, that has proven to be the case, with each of the top four pros in the hunt thanks to one strong day keyed by big largemouth.

On Day 1, Walters weighed two largemouth and three spotted bass for 12-11. Today, he blasted up the leaderboard with four largemouth and one spot. 

“I dedicated myself to staying shallow,” he said of Day 2.  “I was trying to fish brushpiles and crank and throw moving baits and stuff. But dead slick calm like today, there was only one way to catch them. You could see them in the trees and the brushpiles and stuff, just targeting them with LiveScope, and you could throw different stuff to them. I can see them go down for it — a lot of them are going down for it, but not a lot of them are getting it.” 

Fishing shallow wood for the most part, Walters did most of his damage on a homemade jig, a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and a Neko rig. According to the North Carolina pro, a big key is fishing in the right water clarity, which has changed a lot since practice, as the lake is clearing in some places and further muddying in others. 

“I think I’ve got something figured out, but the water clarity is changing throughout the lake,” he said. “So, I’m trying to stay in the right water clarity. It seems like the fish are more active, more aggressive, feeding better in the right stuff. It’s right in between — if it’s too clear, they won’t commit to the bait. They’ll go down on it, but they won’t commit. If it’s the right clarity, they’ll go down on it, and 50% of them will bite.” 

Though Walters is one of many in the field who had never been to West Point prior to this week, he likened it to some of the lakes along the Yadkin River in North Carolina. He’s optimistic about his ability to stay steady tomorrow, which has been tricky for the leaders so far. 

“They’re around; I just have to get them to bite,” he said. “I might have to switch up and do more finesse stuff tomorrow. I noticed late in the day they were reacting to the Neko better. I just need to do what I’ve been doing. I need to just fish and trust my instincts. That’s been the biggest thing, not relying on a specific spot or a specific lure, just knowing that I’m around the right group of fish and figuring out through the day how to catch them.” 

Tyler Stewart swung hard and missed on Day 2, which was a common theme among the leaders. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

Hudson, Stewart can’t replicate early magic

The idea that Hudson and Stewart are out of the running because of subpar Day 2 efforts is ludicrous, but they — and probably Alex Davis and Troy Stokes, as well — missed chances to put the tournament away. Still, both the Day 1 leaders avoided disaster, and a little more magic could see them hoisting a trophy Sunday afternoon.

As on Day 1, Hudson mostly cranked points. Today, he weighed four spotted bass and one largemouth for a little over 12 pounds.

“It started off the same as yesterday; I was just working through my points and rock piles and transitions, catching one here, catching on there, just working through the numbers,” he said. “I had such a tough practice, that was my game plan: If I could get five for 10 pounds, I would be happy with the points it got me. Yesterday, a 5 and a 6 showed up. Today, a 3 ½-pounder showed up. Tomorrow, if another 5 and a 6 show up, we’ll be in good shape.”

Fishing on the lower end of the reservoir, Hudson had more company today, but he’s not fazed by it.

“I don’t fear the pressure. I’ve got my crankbait hung a lot, and when I go up to get it un-hung, I’m seeing the fish sweeping down the point,” he said. “There are more fish there. I think you just have to hit them when they’re going the right direction, and that crankbait goes past their head and they jump on it. I had a lot of fish hit it and miss it. I feel like there are still a lot of fish there, I just need them to bite tomorrow.”

While Hudson has been maxing out a somewhat conservative game plan, Stewart has been going for broke.

“My first area this morning didn’t really pan out; the pressure was bad in there,” he said. “I don’t know if the fish left, or maybe they moved up, but I just didn’t make the right decisions after that didn’t pan out.”

“Didn’t pan out” means that Stewart sacked one quality largemouth from his starting hole before totally going cold, eventually mustering four more small spotted bass for a 9-10 catch.

“I feel like you don’t get many opportunities to have a chance to win,” said Stewart. “Today, it got to a point where I wasn’t catching anything for hours, I had to go fish for some spotted bass. Tomorrow, I don’t think I’m going to do that so early. I’m going to try to keep making adjustments.”

In fourth after weighing in 20-2 today, Ethan Greene showed how impactful the right adjustments can be. He started the day in 83rd and rocketed into the conversation early in the afternoon after abandoning his early game plan. Tomorrow, he’s one of about 10 folks shooting for a win in what has turned out to be a fascinating tournament, with enough big fish to keep things interesting and a half dozen different ways going to catch them.  

Top 10 pros

1. Todd Walters – 31 – 10 (10)           

2. Derik Hudson – 31 – 5 (10)          

3. Tyler Stewart – 30 – 15 (10)           

4. Ethan Greene – 29 – 12 (10)           

5. Colby Miller – 29 – 5 (10)

6. Troy Stokes – 29 – 1 (10)  

7. Drew Gill – 28 – 15 (10)     

8. Ken Thompson – 28 – 14 (10)        

9. Jake Lawrence – 28 – 6 (10)         

10. Taylor Parker – 27 – 12 (10)

Complete results

Fishing Clash AOY

Tackle Warehouse Invitationals anglers will compete throughout the 2024 season for the prestigious Fishing Clash Angler of the Year award and its $50,000 payday. After Stop 1 Presented by Power-Pole MOVE on Sam RayburnDrew Gill is in the lead.

Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide – is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. You can download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to for more information.