Marini Scores Comeback Win at Champlain

Pro Michael Marini jumped from fourth place on day two to claim the win with 19 pounds, 14 ounces.

PLATTSBURGH, NY—Michael Marini’s relentless run up the leaderboard ended in victory as the Slingerlands, N.Y., pro put together a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 14 ounces for a 57-pound, 7-ounce three-day total to score a comeback win at the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain.

“This is an incredible feeling,” he grinned after claiming top honors and $38,664. “Fishing-wise, it’s one of my biggest accomplishments so far.”

Marini roared out of the gate on day one with a 19-pound, 1-ounce limit that landed him in ninth place. Like many of the 142 pros competing in the tournament, his catch dipped on day two. But the 18-8 bag was big enough to spark a rally that pushed him to fourth with 37-9. As the field narrowed to the top 10 pros on day three, along with the top 10 co-anglers, he ground out his biggest limit of the event to storm the winner’s circle.

Throughout the tournament, Marini focused on largemouths lurking in the lush weedbeds of the fertile, soft-bottomed Ticonderoga area well to the south of Plattsburgh. “I ran down all three days,” he said. “With this weather, it’s a doable run.”

Five-inch, bright-colored Yamamoto Senkos were his weapon of choice, either Texas- or wacky-rigged. “I fished them in milfoil in 4½ to 6½ feet of water,” he said. As it turned out, a single fish-rich area fueled all three of his beefy limits.

“I got all of my fish there all three days,” he said, noting that the bass became decidedly more tight-lipped on day three. ”The bite today was very tough, very soft, and I had to weed through a lot of small fish to get to the big ones.”

While a large local tournament launching in the south added intense pressure to a number of areas around Ticonderoga, Marini dodged the main armada. “I had one boat from another tournament around me today, but he was respectful and we worked around each other,” he said. “There were never any issues.”

Pro Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ont., grabs second place with a 56-pound, 11-ounce three-day total weight.Johnston Rises To Second 
Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ont., survived a rough start on day three to finish a strong second. “My first fish of the day got off,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, no, here we go again.’ I’ve led and been in second before, but it never ended up working out too well.”

Johnston rebounded by boating a pair of small bass, but then suffered more missed opportunities.” I lost two or three more fish and thought, ‘This isn’t good,’” he said. "Then it started to turn around. I got some keepers and eventually got into the big fish.”

Johnston’s go-to tactic was flipping small jigs into 5- to 6-foot-deep weedbeds located 70 miles south of the Plattsburgh weigh-in area. He had alluded to a secret strategy earlier in the event, and it turned out to be a 9/16-ounce black mini-jig, tipped with a black chunk trailer brightened with a splash of chartreuse dye. “Most of my big fish came on the jig,” he said.

Johnston also relied on a Z-Man Original ChatterBait to supplement his catch, and turned to a Senko late in the day when the bite came to a halt. “It was slow and painful, but I upgraded one fish late on the Senko,” he said.

Like Marini, Johnston’s second-place Champlain finish capped an impressive comeback run. He landed in 17th on day one with 17 pounds, 7 ounces; rose to third on day two with a monstrous 20-3 limit of largemouths that boosted his tally to 37-10; and advanced again the final day with a 19-1 limit.

Kellogg's Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre brought in 14 pounds, 12 ounces on day three to claim third place. A local fan of Lefebre's helped him show off his fish.Lefebre Falls To Third 
“What I thought might happen, happened,” said pro Dave Lefebre at weigh-in.

The Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro from Erie, Pa., topped the leaderboard the first two days. He set the bar high on day one with a 21-8 limit, and followed up with 19-13 the following day. His two-day total of 41-5 provided more than 3½ pounds of breathing room between himself and his nearest rival.

However, Lefebre worried after the day-two dust settled that rising fishing pressure on the southern weedbeds he was targeting could cause problems the final day. As it turned out, his predictions held true.

“I couldn’t get on my spot this morning,” he said. “A couple of the guys that followed me yesterday were on it. That messed me up right away, which isn’t good. Everything went opposite of the way I wanted. I was kind of prepared, but it was still a rough deal.”

Lefebre’s tactics hinged on fishing jigs and soft-plastic trailers for largemouths. “I caught most of my fish on a green-pumpkin Terminator jig and Yamamoto Double Tail Grub trailer,” he said, adding that many bass fell for a 4½-inch Storm swimbait as well.

“I had the bites to blow it away today,” he continued. “I lost eight fish that were bigger than anything I ended up with in my livewell. It’s just one of those days.”

Before calling it a day, Lefebre ran back to the vicinity of the weigh-in for one last shot at Champlain’s abundant smallmouths. “With 10 minutes to go I culled two largemouths, so it definitely helped,” he said. In the end, he weighed 14 pounds, 12 ounces for a total of 56-1.

Despite falling to third, Lefebre still recorded a respectable finish, and took the lead in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division Angler of the Year race with 395 points.

Pro Jordan Lee landed in fourth place after bringing in 17 pounds, 13 ounces for a three-day total of 55-9.Lee Never Surrenders, Finishes Fourth 
Southern largemouth expert Jordan Lee of Auburn, Ala., stepped outside his comfort zone and targeted northern smallmouths the entire event.

The strategy served him well early on. A red-hot morning bite in a shallow feeding area on a grassy point north of Plattsburgh yielded banner bronzeback action. He rounded out the top five on day one with a hefty 19-pound, 9-ounce limit, and climbed to second on day two with an 18-3 limit that pushed his total to 37-12.

“But today our morning bite wasn’t nearly as good,” he said. “We pulled a lot of fish off that spot the first two days, and it really slowed down.”

When the morning bite was brewing, Lee threw reaction baits to trigger strikes. He credited his day-one co-angler for turning him on to 5-inch fluke-style jerkbaits. Fished weightless, Texas-rigged on a 4/0 hook just under the surface with a slow-falling presentation, they produced bites when other baits wouldn’t. “That’s what I caught my better fish on,” he said.

“Today was more of a topwater bite,” he said. Transparent and bone-colored Heddon Zara Spooks were the ticket. Thanks to upgrades on this surface program, he racked up a final day limit weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces for a 55-9 total.

Pro Derick Olson weighed in 53 pounds, 10 ounces over three days to claim fifth place.Olson Rides Centipedes To Fifth 
Derick Olson of Honey Brook, Pa., started strong with a 20-pound, 2-ounce limit that left him in second on day one. He followed up with 17-3 on day two and fell to sixth. “I struggled and fought all day to catch a kicker, but the bigger bass just weren’t eating,” he said. His 16-5 day three bag yielded a 53-10 total that was good for fifth place.

“I was fishing centipedes on a drop-shot rig, dipping the tail in dye,” he said. “My key spots were hard-bottom areas in weedbeds—small spots where every half hour to 45 minutes you could catch limit after limit.”

No fan of finesse, Olson wielded heavy superbraid mainline and stout casting rods for horsing beefy largemouths out of the jungle. “If big bass wrap you up in the stems with light line, you’re going to lose them,” he explained. The technique, however, required a lighter hand. “I had to work it slow,” he said. “You’d pitch it out, let it sit for 15 to 20 seconds, then just see a ‘tick’ and a fish would be on it.”

Olson noted that day three was the slowest of the tournament, producing 25 keepers. “I didn’t get a big bite today,” he said. “I lost a couple of fish that felt good, but who knows. I still had a great time up here, it’s an awesome place.”

Best of the Rest

Rounding out the top 10 at the Rayovac FLW Series Lake Champlain event:

6th: Glenn Babineu, Mechanicville, N.Y., 52-12

7th: Mark Daniels Jr., Fairfield, Calif., 52-00

8th: Mike Neilson, Markham, Ont., 49-8

9th: Mike McDonald, Randleman, N.C., 47-12

10th: Cory Johnston, Peterborough, Ont., 47-3

For complete results, click here.

Co-angler Zachary Francis of Abingdon, Va., claimed victory with a three-day total of 46 pounds. This is his first FLW win.Francis Claims First Win as Co-Angler

Young gun Zachary Francis of Abingdon, Va., topped the 142 co-anglers with a 46-pound performance. He finished strong with a 15-6 limit of largemouths fishing with Marini, capping a 12-3 day-one bag and 18-7 day-two catch.

The 16-year-old, who recently won the 2014 Virginia State High School Fishing Championship on Smith Mountain Lake, was elated at the Rayovac FLW Series win—and collecting the Ranger Z117 first prize. “It’s unreal,” he said. “The FLW pros are great guys. It’s an awesome experience.”

For complete co-angler results, click here.

Tags: headline-story  dan-johnson 

/news/2015-05-23-brown-rallies-for-seminole-win

Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-jeter-takes-co-angler-crown

Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-lake-seminole-day-3-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-lake-seminole-day-2-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 2 Midday Update

The hot summer at Seminole turned back into spring this morning as a cold front blew through the area dropping air temps some 10 degrees with a blustery north wind. Sweatshirts were needed again as the cold air felt more like April than May. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-enfinger-leads-on-seminole

Enfinger Leads On Seminole

Enfinger said he got off to a “fast start” this morning, sacking a limit by 10 a.m., but he only upgraded twice after that, catching about eight keepers on the day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-1

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 1

Bradley Enfinger took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole fishing suspended bass in timber. Others in the top-5 fished both wood and grass on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-lake-seminole-midday-update

Lake Seminole Midday Update

Lake Seminole is known to be more of a quality lake than a quantity lake and that trait showed on the morning of day one as anglers who were catching fish were not necessarily getting many bites, but 3-pound pluses seemed to be the norm for the ones hauled in over the gunnel. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ledges-lift-wilson-to-top

Ledges Lift Wilson to Top

Tim Wilson of Gas City, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 29 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Choo Choo Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Guntersville. For his victory, Wilson earned $5,584. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-two-in-a-row-for-fox

Two in a Row for Fox

Dwight Fox of Gainesboro, Tennessee, weighed four bass totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Cumberland. For his victory, Fox earned $4,463. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-bluff-walls-carry-meredith

Bluff Walls Carry Meredith

GROVE, Okla. – Mitch Meredith of Hulbert, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Meredith earned $7,165. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-tidwell-slows-down-for-title

Tidwell Slows Down for Title

MCCORMICK, S.C. – Brian Tidwell of Seneca, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Tidwell earned $3,021. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ginter-gets-the-win

Ginter Gets the Win

CELINA, Ohio – Gary Ginter of Maplewood, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Ginter earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-jig-does-the-trick-for-roselle

Jig Does the Trick for Roselle

MARBURY, Md. – Mike Roselle of La Plata, Maryland, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Potomac River. For his victory, Roselle earned $6,235. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-lake-eufaula-day-4-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-morrow-thrift-neck-and-neck

Morrow, Thrift Neck and Neck

Georgia pro Troy Morrow brought in 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the third day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula to increase his tournament total to 54-13. Morrow maintains his lead for the second consecutive day, but he won’t sleep comfortably tonight with North Carolina hammer Bryan Thrift just 4 ounces off the lead with 54-09. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 3

Troy Morrow is leading the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. However, with one day left to fish, he has a big problem going into the last day: Bryan Thrift. The Shelby, N.C., pro is just 4 ounces behind Morrow. Here’s how Thrift and the rest of the top five caught their fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-lake-eufaula-day-3-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »