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 For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the EverStart Series on Facebook at and on Twitter at 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 


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 »


Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »


Guntersville Grab Bag

Lake Guntersville will always have a place in bass-fishing history – most recently because of Paul Elias and the umbrella rig ­– but it represents so much more. With boat ramps seemingly on every street corner, and a town and community that caters to anglers like no other, the legendary lake is always a popular stop. READ MORE »


Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »


Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »


Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage. READ MORE »


Heating Up on Havasu

Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – Warming weather could provide the spark that is needed to ignite a big-time bite on Lake Havasu this week for the first event of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Western Division, which is presented by Mercury. Past FLW events on Havasu have been plagued by lower temperatures and strong winds that slowed the bite – fishing was good, but the anglers didn’t experience the lake’s full potential. The last few days on the Colorado River impoundment, however, have seen temperatures near 80 degrees with nearly no wind. As it stands now, the forecast for competition days is calling for more of the same, and many of the 152 pros in this tournament feel like that could open things up. READ MORE »


Here They Come

Big things are coming on Lake Okeechobee – big bass, big weights and the biggest tournament field in Rayovac FLW Series history. READ MORE »


Grinding Wheel-er

ROGERSVILLE, Ala. – The story was much the same among the 141 pro and co-anglers that launched out of Joe Wheeler State Park this morning for the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. Fishing on the Tennessee River in the fall can be hit or miss and right now anglers are experiencing the latter. READ MORE »


A Clear Challenge

Challenging conditions including low water, abundant baitfish and a late-season algae bloom set the stage for an epic bass battle among the 212 pros and co-anglers vying for top honors Oct. 9-11 in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division Clear Lake tournament, which kicked off this morning at 7:30 a.m. PT. Presented by Evinrude, the three-day event promises plenty of drama. Anglers are competing for lucrative paybacks, including $32,448 in cash for first place on the pro side, plus a fully rigged Ranger Z518C with 200-hp Evinrude outboard if the winner is Ranger Cup compliant, for a total purse worth more than $80,000. On the co-angler side, the victor claims a fully rigged Ranger Z117 with 90-hp Evinrude, plus $5,000 in Ranger Cup cash if entered in that contingency program. READ MORE »


Rayburn Returns

ZAVALLA, Texas – If Sam Rayburn Reservoir were a stock on Wall Street, now would be the time to buy. READ MORE »


The Mississippi Mix-Up

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Things are much different since the last time the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division launched from the Clinton Street Landing back in 2012. Cooler temperatures, higher water levels and scattered fish will make things interesting for the 119 pros and co-anglers this week on the Mississippi River. READ MORE »


James River Jam

RICHMOND, Va. – On tidal fisheries like the James River, optimism and opportunity are inextricably linked to water level. For anglers competing in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division, today’s tide schedule will present a brief period of opportunity, followed by a long grind the rest of the day. READ MORE »


Hopes High on Champlain

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Fair weather and a fishery flush with bassin’ options fueled contagious optimism among the 142 competitors squaring off in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. READ MORE »


Kentucky Lake: The pressure is palpable

PARIS LANDING, Tenn. – If the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude needed a theme song, David Bowie’s rendition of “Under Pressure” would be as good as it gets. The entire field will be under more pressure than usual as the four-day competition opens this morning. There’s the pressure to win or at least take advantage of a final opportunity to take home a good check this season, the pressure to pull out all the stops and make up ground in the Angler of the Year standings and gain entry into the Forrest Wood Cup, the pressure to not take chances and lose a shot at the Cup – and so it goes. READ MORE »


The Task of Timing

FLORENCE, Ala. – Fishing tournaments inherently rely on timed competition – get as much weight as you can within the allotted time frame. However, as the country's top 49 boaters and co-anglers take to Wilson Lake for the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy timing will greatly impact outcomes. READ MORE »


Pick a number at Pickwick

FLORENCE, Ala. – To listen to some of the pros gathered here for the Walmart FLW Tour on Pickwick Lake presented by StraightTalk, here’s the scenario that will play out for the next couple of days: Each morning anglers will depart the takeoff area and proceed to their first stop where, depending on their draw, they will be required to wait in line until it’s their turn to fish. Once they’ve caught a keeper, they will move on to the next community hole, where they will again repeat the process. And so the tournament will proceed until Sunday evening when the champion will be crowned. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Veterans and newcomers alike agree that Pickwick will fish much smaller than it really is in this, the fifth 2014 Tour stop that’s hosted by the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau. Because fish-finding electronics have become so precise, most of the locations that consistently hold bass in early summer on Pickwick seem to have found their way into the waypoint logs of just about every angler entered. As veteran Texas pro Tommy Martin puts it, “either we’re going to have to play nice and share places and get along, or go find six or eight spots that nobody knows about. Good luck with that; I plan to play nice.” READ MORE »


Kentucky Lake slugfest begins

There are no secrets on Kentucky Lake this week. If you want to catch a winning stringer, you’d better be ledge fishing. Rayovac FLW Series anglers launched out of Kenlake State Resort Park this morning to near-perfect ledge-fishing conditions for the start of the second Central Division event of the season. READ MORE »


High tide on the Delta

BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – or, at least, a challenging thing. Gotta have water to fish and current generally stimulates fish, but this week’s tide schedule may prove perplexing for Rayovac FLW Series Western Division anglers on the California Delta. READ MORE »


Guntersville’s great mystery

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Largemouth bass in Lake Guntersville just might be some of the most prolific bass in the world. How one fishery continues to pump out so many bass under the duress of so much fishing pressure is a mystery that many bass pros have pondered. READ MORE »