July 17, 2014 by Dan Johnson
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.
Presented by Plano, it promises to produce big bags as anglers pull out all the stops in an epic battle for top honors in the three-day event. Plus, as the second of three 2014 Northern Division stops, it will also see anglers jockeying for coveted points and pole position in the series’ angler-of-the-year race.
“There are definitely big fish biting,” said pro Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md. After a top-20 finish at the Northern Division season-opener on the Potomac last month, he’s in the thick of the points race and hopes this event’s forecast for calm seas and sunny skies bodes well for a top finish.
“Very rarely do you get three days of good weather for a tournament, and I’m going to try to use that to my advantage,” he said, explaining that with calm conditions expected, anglers have all of Champlain at their disposal. “You have a 130-mile lake, and everywhere is in play. Everybody can spread out and fish their strengths.”
Schmitt predicts it will take 22 pounds to grab the lead, and wouldn’t be surprised if largemouths dominate the day.
“But the lake is also in different stages,” he said. “My guess is it will be won out of the south.”
Fellow pro Mark Daniels Jr. of Fairfield, Calif., expects numerous bags in the 18- to 20-pound range, and “a ton” in the middle teens. As for choosing which species to target, Daniels has no hesitation.
“I’m going to focus on green fish,” he grinned. “All largemouths for me today. But the smallies are definitely going to be a factor in the tournament because there are some big ones in here.”
Indeed, Tournament Director Ron Lappin reported that much of the buzz amongst the field centers on smallmouths. “Anglers are telling us there are more 5-pound smallmouth bass in the lake right now than they’ve ever seen,” he said. “Champlain is one of those lakes where either species could win on any given day, depending on which way the wind blows. But it sounds like the smallmouth bite is so unbelievable that it’s going to be tough to beat.”
As for the AOY race, currently led by William Kemp of Scotland Neck, N.C., Lappin expects veteran anglers who can handle the pressure and fish smart throughout the season to finish high in the final standings.
“Guys that can manage their fish and make all the right moves over the course of three separate tournaments will do well,” he predicted.
Anglers will take off from Dock Street Landing marina located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh, N.Y., at 6 a.m. daily. Weigh-ins will be held at the launch site beginning at 2 p.m. all three days. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C 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. The Rayovac FLW Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. The 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship is being held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Ala. The Rayovac FLW Series tournament on Lake Champlain is presented by Plano.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.
Sunrise: 5:25 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 66 degrees
Expected high temperature: 73 degrees
Wind: WNW 1 mph
Day’s outlook: Partly cloudy