UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Whack, stack, Wolak

Pro winner David Wolak holds up his kicker largemouth from day four on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - While his official residence now reads North Carolina, David Wolak is a northern angler at heart. The former Pennsylvanian grew up fishing bodies of water like Lake Champlain and the Finger Lakes in New York. So if it looks like his smallmouth largemouth mixed-bag strategy is precise and calculated, it is. He's been tweaking it to perfection for years, hence the nickname "mixmaster."

Four years ago Wolak nearly won the FLW Series event held on Champlain. He finished second thanks to a late comeback from Guido Hibdon and the memory still haunts him. Or at least it did until today. While Gary Yamamoto led this year's Walmart FLW Tour event the first two days, it quickly became obvious that Wolak had the steady, winning strategy.

Each morning he'd fish a little 30-yard rock wall formation near Carry Bay. With current and a deep depression that dropped into 20 feet of water, it was the perfect stacking place for fat smallmouths. After the cold front, pro winner David Wolak switched to a jig to catch his bass.
After accumulating roughly 15 pounds of smallies, Wolak would turn his attention to largemouths, which were meant to push him into the upper teens. On day one, he upgraded three of the smallies. On a blustery day two he caught two sizeable largemouths and on the third and fourth days four of his five weigh fish were green bass. His largemouth spots were mostly located in Alburg Passage and Missisquoi Bay.

On day four, things pretty much went as planned. It was a little slower in the morning than it had been due to fog, but a determined Wolak stuck with it and boated roughly 50 keepers. By 1 p.m. he caught his 5-pound kicker largemouth off a tire reef and knew it was over. When it was all said and done, Wolak's five-bass limit Sunday weighed 19 pounds, 7 ounces, bringing his four-day combined weight to 81 pounds even. Those 81 pounds were more than enough to earn him $125,000 and his first FLW Tour win.

On the smallmouths, Wolak used a 1/4-ounce Title Shot jig with a homemade skirt if the bass were holding tight to the bottom. If they were suspending, he'd use a Jackall Superpin Tail, a Super Cross Tail Shad or a Clone Fry on a drop-shot rig. For the largemouths, he primarily flipped the first two days with a Jackall Sasuteki Craw. But as the largemouths left the grass and moved to the rock, Wolak picked up 1/2-ounce Title Shot jig with a full skirt and Zoom Twin Tail grub.

Pro winner David Wolak celebrates his Lake Champlain victory with his wife and son."This tournament for me was all about the adjustments," said the pro champion. "I figured out that I needed to slow down with that jig in the cold weather as the fish moved to the hard targets. Lake Champlain is all about adjustments."

Wolak described the third Open of the season as the biggest tournament of the year in the Northeast. And it's a tournament he looks forward to every year.

"This lake is really special to me. I think all the failures and bad decisions I've made in the past have taught me a lot. This is the tournament I prepare my boat and tackle for all year. You can ask my wife, when I come up here its win or bust. It's such a relief to win."

Yamamoto second

Gary Yamamoto committed his entire week to skipping docks with his namesake Senko. Although his pattern produced the heaviest single-day stringer in Lake Champlain history, it dwindled each of the four tournament days. Part of the reason it dwindled was that many of the lakeshore owners were Second-place finisher Gary Yamamoto holds up his biggest bass from day four on Lake Champlain.pulling their docks out for the winter.

Despite fishing methodically, Yamamoto said he sampled up to 100 docks in a day. On day four, he brought in five largemouths that weighed 15 pounds, 11 ounces, bringing his total weight to 74 pounds, 12 ounces.

"I started out this morning on a new area," said the Palestine, Texas, resident. "At noon I just had one good one. I didn't want to stay and gamble so I went back to my primary spot. I was confident I could catch five, but I was trying to get the bites to catch Dave."

As only he can do, Yamamoto put a unique twist on his Senko presentation. In addition to adding a 1-inch, No. 7 screw, he also hooked the Senko backwards.

"I hooked it backwards so instead of going to the boat it moved back towards the dock."

Yamamoto earned $31,329 for his runner-up finish.

"Yesterday I thanked my employees and all my bait buyers and my wife said it was the best speech she's ever heard. I know how to play the game now. If I keep everybody happy, I get to keep fishing."

Biron third

Pro Daryl Biron caught a four-day total of 72 pounds, 15 ounces to finish the Lake Champlain event in third place.Connecticut pro Daryl Biron might not have the name recognition of Wolak or Yamamoto, but he put on quite a clinic this week. Similar to the pro winner, Biron employed a mixed-bag strategy with the exception of day two when it was too windy to get to his largemouth areas.

Unlike Wolak, Biron didn't always start on smallmouths. He did the first two days but on days three and four he had some untested largemouth water he really wanted to try. As it turned out, some of that water was already being fished by Yamamoto and Glenn Browne.

"Every day I caught them and that's all you can do. I knew going in that the mixed bag is the way to win on Lake Champlain."

To catch his smallmouths, Biron would Carolina rig a Zoom Speed Craw with a 3/4-ounce weight. He fished this primarily over a weed flat in the middle of the Inland Sea in 13 to 14 feet of water. Occasionally he mixed in a drop-shot, but the Carolina rig was the better producer early in the week. For the largemouths, he'd skip a Senko (rigged wacky style) under docks.

"I've published a few articles on dock fishing and I can tell you that not all docks are created equal. This week the best ones had weeds that came right up to the edge. I'd just skip to any opening in the weeds."

On day four his limit weighed 13 pounds, 14 ounces, pushing his cumulative total to 72 pounds, 15 ounces. Byron earned $26, 829 for third place.

"Today I only had 9 pounds with a half hour left. Those last two fish really saved me in the standings."

Vintage Browne finishes fourth

Florida pro Glenn Browne finished the Lake Champlain event in fourth place.If he had it his way, Browne would flip shallow cover in every tournament he fished. This week he targeted primarily lay-downs and willow trees up in Alburg Passage. The first two days he fished the west side of the passage and the last two days he occupied the east side.

"Late on day three I started to run some new stuff," Browne explained. "I found out they were holding in little clumps of flat reeds. The trees were better early in the week, but the clumps really got good yesterday afternoon."

Browne basically used two baits all week - either a 3/4-ounce or 1-ounce homemade black and blue jig. The jig was tipped with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk and tied on 65-pound braided line.

"Any time I can truck down the bank I'm in my comfort zone. I bet I caught over 30 keepers again today in 2 feet of water. What a week. These Opens so far have been whackfests."

Browne's day-four limit weighed 16 pounds, 2 ounces, giving him a total weight of 72-6, worth $22,329.

The Ocala, Fla., pro will enter the final Open of the year as the points leader. While there is no official Angler of the Year award for winning the Opens, the top five in the points are given a berth into the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup.

"Going into Guntersville, I feel I've got a pretty good chance because that's going to be a mat deal."

Strader rallies to fifth

Wesley Strader finished in fifth place after catching a 17-pound, 13-ounce limit Sunday.Coming into the final day on Lake Champlain, Walmart pro Wesley Strader simply wanted to make the top five. And after catching a limit worth 17 pounds, 13 ounces, he accomplished his goal - moving up from eighth to fifth. His four-day cumulative weight registered at 70 pounds, 3 ounces, earning him $17, 829.

Strader weighed three smallmouths and two largemouths Sunday. He had been catching largemouths exclusively until he stopped on the way in yesterday and sampled one of his smallmouths holes. He did so well there he decided to start day four on those same fish.

"It was crazy this morning," said the Spring City, Tenn., native. "I think I had 16 pounds of smallies in about 20 minutes. Then I kept catching fish, but I wasn't really improving my weight so I went to my largemouth water and that was good too."

For the brown fish, Strader drop-shotted a Zoom Swamp Crawler (green pumpkin). When he fished largemouths up in Alburg and Missisquoi he flipped a 3/4-ounce Phenix jig with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk trailer. After several days of non-stop action, he simply ran out of baits and Derek Yamamoto loaned him some of his Kinami D Bugs.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers at the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain:

6th: Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., 70-2, $15,129
7th: Brian Bylotas of Olyphant, Pa., 69-8, $14,229
8th: Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., 68-15, $13,329
9th: Kyle Mabrey of McCalla, Ala., 64-9, $12,429
10th: J Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga., 62-11, $11,529

Coming up

The fourth and final FLW Tour Open of 2011 is scheduled for Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala., Oct. 20-23.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2011-09-15-lake-champlain 

/news/2016-02-12-top-10-photos-from-lake-okeechobee-

Top 10 Photos from Lake Okeechobee

FLW’s coverage crew was all over the place during the Walmart FLW Tour kickoff presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. The following photos are some of the best taken during a week of wild weather swings and big bass. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-10-dudley-links-up-with-livingston-lures

Dudley Links Up with Livingston Lures

Livingston Lures has added three-time Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year David Dudley to its pro-staff. The Virginia pro joins two-time FLW AOY Andy Morgan and former FLW Rookie of the Year Stetson Blaylock on the Team Livingston roster. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-10-power-pole-extends-partnership-with-flw

Power-Pole Extends Partnership with FLW

FLW announced yesterday that JL Marine Systems, manufacturer of Power-Pole shallow-water anchor systems, has signed a sponsorship extension for the 2016 season. This will be the sixth consecutive season that the two organizations have partnered. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-flw-college-fishing-western-conference-opens-season-on-shasta-lake

FLW College Fishing Western Conference Opens Season on Shasta Lake

REDDING, Calif. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 20 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Western Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-lake-shasta-set-to-host-costa-flw-series-opener-presented-by-minn-kota

Lake Shasta Set to Host Costa FLW Series Opener Presented by Minn Kota

REDDING, Calif. – The Costa FLW Series is headed to Lake Shasta Feb. 18-20 for a tournament presented by Minn Kota when as many as 300 pros and co-anglers will take to the water for the first stop of 2016 in the Western Division. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-montgomery-targets-prespawn-bass-for-win

Montgomery Targets Prespawn Bass for Win

Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, Ala., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-09-top-10-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee

Oklahoma’s Bradley Hallman sewed up his first Walmart FLW Tour victory at the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats by pitching and punching reed heads in the South Bay area with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. Hallman stuck with his program despite up-and-down air temperatures, high winds and all the curveballs Mother Nature could throw at him. Here's how the rest of the top 10 got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-08-top-10-baits-from-lake-okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Lake Okeechobee

The Walmart FLW Tour presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee went from a tight race to a runaway in a hurry when Bradley Hallman just wouldn’t stop catching the big ones. As for the lures he used, and those put to work by the rest of the top 10, some Okeechobee staples were applied as well as a few oddball baits. If you’re thinking of heading down to the Big O or anywhere else in Florida soon, you might want to acquire a few of the lures they fished. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-hallman-wins-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Wins Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought just two bass to the scale Sunday totaling 6 pounds, 8 ounces, but it was still enough to earn the win at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s four-day cumulative total of 16 bass weighing 71 pounds, 2 ounces earned him the win by an impressive 14-pound, 14-ounce margin over second-place pro Alex Davis of Albertville, Alabama, and $100,000 in the tournament that featured 169 of the best bass-fishing anglers in the world competing in the first FLW Tour event of the regular season. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-big-hall-man-on-okeechobee

Big (Hall)Man on Okeechobee

It was the Bradley Hallman show all week long at Lake Okeechobee at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. Though, the Norman, Okla., pro struggled on day four and brought in only two fish for 6 pounds, 8 ounces, he pulled off the wire-to-wire victory in his first event on Tour. The 13-pound, 9-ounce lead that Hallman built up through the first three days of competition was enough that he didn't actually have to weigh his fish today. Hallman's tournament total of 71 pounds, 2 ounces far exceeded the 56-04 caught by runner-up Alex Davis. For the win, Hallman earned $100,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-07-lake-okeechobee-day-4-coverage

Lake Okeechobee Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 3

Across the board, weights fell off on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and the Hendry County Tourism and Development Council. No one in the top 20 crossed the 20-pound mark. Cloud cover, which prevented the water temperature from rising much above 65 degrees, and low water clarity might both have slowed the replenishment of bass moving into spawn. Tournament leader Bradley Hallman experienced a bit of a stall in the action as well, bringing just four fish to the scales, but he still managed to increase his lead to 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-hallman-extends-lead-on-day-three-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Extends Lead On Day Three At Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Anchored by an 8-pound, 10-ounce kicker, pro Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought four bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 3 ounces to extend his lead to more than 13½ pounds heading in to the final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman’s... READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-can-anyone-catch-hallman-

Can Anyone Catch Hallman?

Despite catching only four keepers on day three, Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman extended his lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. With a day-three weight of 14 pounds, 3 ounces and a tournament total of 64-10, his margin over second-place angler Alex Davis is now 13 pounds, 9 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-montgomery-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-bulldog-division-opener-on-lake-eufaula

Montgomery Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division Opener on Lake Eufaula

EUFAULA, Ala. – Local angler Scott Montgomery of Eufaula, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Eufaula. For his victory, Montgomery took home a check for $4,127. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »