UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Champlain challenges

EverStart Northern Division anglers started their day in calm, clear conditions on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - A rainy summer has swollen Lake Champlain past its normal boundaries, but EverStart Series Northern Division anglers will still find plenty of opportunity throughout this spectacular fishery. Maximizing such abundance, however, will depend upon prudent decision making. First priority is target species. Champlain boasts healthy populations of largemouth and smallmouthBoaters make their way through the day-1 check-out at Dock Street Landing. bass - both of which reach competitive sizes. Traditionally, largemouth bass dominate this time of year, but several anglers reported good smallie bites in practice, so a mixed bag could play for some. The other choice is location. At 121 miles long, this relatively narrow lake offers a broad array of habitat that includes islands, bridge structure, quiet coves, rocky bluffs, offshore rock/grass fields and shallow hydrilla beds. This diversity flourishes throughout most of the lake, while Champlain's slender southern end, generally known as "Ti" (for Fort Ticonderoga) largely comprises gnarly tangles of dense grass chock full of largemouth bass. Prior to the day-one takeoff, Pennsylvania pro Randy Yarnell said he was still mulling his decision over where to start. "I'm having a tough time deciding 'Do I want to go north or do I want to go south?'" he said. "Ti is holding a lot of fish and if you hit the right place at the right time, you're going to be a happy man. "Today, with it being so calm I know we're going to catch a lot of fish. We're going to be able to get down there quickly and we're going to be able to get back. But I also practiced in Missisquoi Bay (northeast end) and it has a lot of nice fish. The hard part about Missisquoi, in my determination, is how many people are going to be there. I know I won't have a whole lot of competition in Ti, but I know there are better fish in Missisquoi right now." A Reaction Innovations Little Dipper looks a lot like the sunfish that smallmouth love, so Pennsylvania pro  Randy Yarnall hopes to fool the big ones that way.Yarnall said he was leaning more toward a Missisquoi mission. There, he'd expect to catch most of his fish on a wacky-rigged Senko or a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper on a 1/8-ounce leadhead. A quick limit of Missisquoi largemouth, he said, would enable him to branch out and try a few smallmouth spots. Yarnell said that spotting a school of sunfish is always a promising sight, as predators eventually locate such food concentrations. However, noting the sunfish behavior tells him if he's in the right neighborhood. "If you drop your bait through a school of sunfish and they don't follow it down, that's a good sign," he said. "They know what's down there." Florida pro J.T. Kenney, who won last year's EverStart on Champlain by fishing the Ti grass, said he's committed to another round of southward runs. As Kenney notes, the current water level has influenced the habitat and influenced bait selection. He'll flip Gambler Otter and a Senko. "The largemouth down around Ticonderoga are spread out a little bit," he said. "It's not ridiculous likeFlorida pro JT Kenney plans on fishing the Ticonderoga grass that delivered his 2012 win. it was last year when you just had to find that little spot in each grass bed where you could just wear them out. "It's mostly a flippin' deal this year. We have a lot of those cheese mats where we frog fish, but the water's really high. So, instead of having two or three feet of water under those mats, there's six feet of water. There's probably fish under there, but I just don't think they're as apt to come that far up (for a frog)."  Ish Monroe will stick with largemouth and spend much of his day throwing his Snagproof IshCalifornia pro Ish Monroe will also target largemouth, but he's staying in the lake's upper end, where shallow cover presents more effective scenarios for working his Snagproof Ish's PHAT Frog and Poppin' Phattie. He'll also throw a River2Sea Rover and flip a Missile Baits D-Bomb "With the high water, a lot of those fish that roam out in that middle grass pull up to the edges where they're easier to catch," Monroe said. Now, smallmouth bass are notoriously cantankerous critters but nothing spotlights their mean streak like a topwater bait. Steve Lucarelli, who won the 2009 event on Champlain plans to summon the brown beasts topside by walking a Zara Spook over weed beds in 10-12 feet of water. It probably won't be an all-day thing, but Lucarelli's hoping to start his day with a bang and then go to work elsewhere. As Lucarelli points out, Champlain's high water has created strong current scenarios, as water management pulls the overage through drainage systems. Current positions fish and stimulates feeding, so Lucarelli believes that this dynamic will present homerun opportunities for those who find Steve Lucarelli, who won the 2009 event on Lake Champlain, will start his day by looking for big smallies with a topwater plug. the sweet spots. Logistics Anglers will take off from the Dock Street Landing in Plattsburgh, N.Y., at 6 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Weigh-in will be held at Dock Street Landing beginning at 2:00 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. California pro and lure designer  Ish Monro shares one of his Snagproof IshThe EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title, which allows them to fish the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup. The EverStart Series tournament on Lake Champlain is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau. For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the EverStart Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing. Thursday's conditions: Sunrise: 5:25 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 72 degrees Expected high temperature: 82 degrees Water Temperature: 75-77 degrees Wind: SW switching to SE 2-7 mph Humidity: 75 percent Day's outlook: Calm and partly sunny

Tags: morning-story 


Rain Raises the Bar

When the 171 pros and their co-angler equivalents roll out of Paducah, Ky., onto the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers on Thursday morning they’ll have to contend with conditions that are totally different from practice. READ MORE »


A Mixed Bag at Clear Lake

Clear Lake is famous for a good reason. Not only does it hold some giants, it’s home to tremendous amounts of fish over five pounds apiece. October tournaments on Clear in the last few years have shown some of the lake’s tremendous potential, with big ones grouped up and big-time numbers caught by many. READ MORE »


Hunting Erie’s Brown Fish

It’s going to be an Easter egg hunt on Lake Erie, but at least the great lake will behave a little better during the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event than it did during practice. READ MORE »


2015 Forrest Wood Cup Off and Running

If the fishing matches the weather on the opening day of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, there will be plenty of limit stringers brought to the scales in Hot Springs’ Bank of the Ozarks Arena when the weigh-in commences at 5 p.m. Up until a couple of weather forecasts ago, anglers were anticipating hot, miserable weather during all four days of this, the crowning event of the Walmart FLW Tour season, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Passing thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon brought a pleasant respite to the sultry heat, however, and now Cup contenders only have sulking bass to contend with as they vie for tournament fishing’s richest prize: a winner’s purse of $500,000. READ MORE »


Up and Down on Dardanelle

Tournament fishing inherently has its ups and downs, but Rayovac FLW Series Central Division anglers are getting a concentrated dose of this angling truism on Lake Dardanelle. An Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Arkansas River, Dardanelle has seen its water level fluctuate with recent rains and the Corps’ efforts to moderate this flow. Dam releases have pulled the lake down enough to reposition fish. READ MORE »


North or South on Champlain?

With waves 1 to 3 feet and thunderstorms in the offing as day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano gets under way on Lake Champlain, the anglers will have a tall task no matter which direction they run. READ MORE »


A Capital Challenge

Rivers can be rollercoasters, and the Potomac River might be about to give the anglers fishing the Walmart FLW Tour finale a tough ride. Two nasty storm systems have blown through in the last few days. According to FLW Tour pro and local Michael Hall, those could have been the two worst things to happen leading up to the tournament. “After 30 years of fishing here, I know storms impact the bass on this river,” says Hall. “Those storms have certainly done that. The wind alone would have done it this week.” READ MORE »


The Sun Rises on the 2015 All-American

Practice day Wednesday saw temperatures in the high 80s, with more sultry weather on tap for today. Like many others, Schroeder spent most of the day riding around and checking spots with his electronics. Though undoubtedly fish will be caught from the miles of weedbeds in the lower end of the lake below Paris Landing, he figures it will be a ledge bite that wins. READ MORE »


Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?

There was no sentimentality attached to the smartphone photos anglers were showing off to each other prior to the Wednesday afternoon rules meeting of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. The photos weren’t of loved ones back home; rather, they were shots of big largemouth bass the fishermen had caught and released during practice earlier this week. In fact, there was a surprising number of such photos making the rounds, which suggests that the kind of hefty bass that can make or break a tournament for an angler are there ready and waiting as the four-day event presented by Igloo Coolers got underway this morning out of Dayton Boat Dock. READ MORE »


Northern Rayovacs Kick Off on the James

Ostensibly, the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division tournament presented by Mercury that began this morning is taking place on the James River, but much of the fishing focus will be centered on the Chickahominy River – or Chick, as it’s affectionately known locally. “This tournament is typically won out of the Chick,” says North Carolina pro Jamey Caldwell of the James River tributary. “There are some great bags coming out of the [James] river right now, but I just feel that those big fish are a little more sporadic. I’m going to hang out in the Chick and hope for the best.” READ MORE »


Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »


Shallow, Deep and in Between at Eufaula

A couple of weeks ago Eufaula was high and off-color, and the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State that begins this morning was shaping up to be a shallow-water showdown. The lake has fallen by a couple of inches since then, however, and now the odds are even that both inshore and offshore patterns will be in play. In fact, one Eufaula expert who isn’t fishing the tournament expects it will take a mixture of patterns to make it to Sunday’s championship round and claim the $100,000 that goes to the winner. READ MORE »


Anything Goes at the Cal Delta

There are 127 pros entered in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Ranger at the California Delta this week. If you asked them all what their baits or tactics are for the first day of competition today, you might get 127 different answers. At some fisheries that FLW’s tournament circuits visit, such varied and often vague responses from pros when they’re prompted for fishing info are the result of them attempting to stealthily hide their fishing patterns. That’s not exactly the case at this tournament. The fact is, the California Delta is one of the most vast and varied fisheries that hosts FLW events. It’s a collection of unique mini-fisheries all rolled into one, with dirty water, clean water, tons of vegetation and other factors tossed into the mix. It’s a tidal fishery, so the water levels and currents fluctuate throughout each day. And, of course, it’s spring in California, and because of the vastness of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and the delta system they feed, with its 1,000 miles of waterways, there are populations of bass in all stages of the spawn in their own little geographic areas. READ MORE »


In or Out on Kentucky Lake



Texoma Tough, but Stabilizing

As of press time, we were unable to confirm whether or not Troy Broussard has ever suffered a barnyard assault by any beast of burden. Nevertheless, his colorful metaphor bespeaks a challenging scenario facing the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division field on Lake Texoma for this week’s finale, which is presented by Evinrude. From Broussard’s facebook page: “Well, after three full days [of practice] on Lake Texoma, I can honestly say that I compare this to getting kicked in the face by a mule. It’s brutal.” Allusions aside, the big Ouachita River reservoir straddling the Texas-Oklahoma border has indeed shown its persnickety side of late. Blame Mother Nature for that. READ MORE »


Tricky Transition at Beaver

Though Beaver Lake is an annual stop for the Walmart FLW Tour, that doesn’t mean it is an easy lake to decipher. This year’s event, which is presented by Rayovac, is later into the spring than usual and is causing some major head scratching among the 154 pros in the field. There’s no doubt that some fish can be found on beds, however, they are mostly small. The consensus is that a lot of fish are stuck in limbo between the spawn and prespawn phase on this White River impoundment. READ MORE »


Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

It’s no secret that the first Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event of the year on Grand Lake has collided perfectly with the spawn. Nearly every shallow pocket on the lake holds dozens upon dozens of bass that are eager to do their deed. The 197 pros making up a record-setting Central Division field could hardly contain themselves to get on the water this morning. The only issue was fog – and lots of it. With a 7 a.m. CT takeoff planned, a heavy blanket of fog delayed the start of the tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, until 8:30, when the fog lifted enough for safe travel but was still hanging around just enough to be a hindrance to those looking to sight-fish. READ MORE »


Weather Woes Greet College Anglers

It was supposed to be a shallow-water bassfest, with largemouths and spots roaming Lake Murray’s shoreline to feast on spawning blueback herring. That still might happen as the FLW College Fishing National Championship plays out the next three days here, but the fishing is more likely to be ad lib than follow any script. The dreary, damp weather that settled over the region Wednesday during the last day of practice is the culprit. Not only did it hamper the efforts of contestants looking for the last bedding fish of the season, but also those depending on a consistent blueback herring bite to gin up the action. Still, the consensus of opinion is that one pattern or the other will prevail, and settle the question of college bragging rights for the next year as well as send the winning team to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in August. READ MORE »


Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

High water, high winds and high hopes – that’s the forecast for the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, which kicked off today at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Torrential rains of recent weeks have swollen this Angelina River impoundment, and a huge downpour last weekend has all but stymied efforts to lower the water level. Currently, the lake sits about 5 feet above normal – a level not seen here in more than 15 years. Realistically, anglers aren’t looking for much, if any, decline this week – particularly given the approaching storm system. READ MORE »


Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »