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/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-gautney-under-pressure

Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-college-open-day-1-midday-update

College Open Day 1 Midday Update

“You should have been here yesterday” might have been the motto for the first day of fishing in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. Though many of the 194 teams entered in the two-day event out of Moor’s Resort & Marina reported good to excellent practices, many of the same anglers were complaining about a lack of fish on opening morning of the competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-gautney-cranks-up-the-lead

Gautney Cranks Up The Lead

Gautney says he keyed on staging fish in several very specific locations and one specific depth. He and co-angler Antoni Bicy caught 59 pounds, 8 ounces off of his spots, and he seems confident about his ability to keep catching them the rest of the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 1

The first day of the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Guntersville was a welcome departure from the grumblings of practice. Though fans weren’t treated to multiple 30-pound limits on the pro side, like at the Walmart Bass Fishing League event at Guntersville a couple of weekends ago, it still took more than 25 pounds to get into the top five on day one of this Mercury-presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-morrison-wins-on-dale-hollow

Morrison Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Charles Morrison of Georgetown, Kentucky, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 20 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Morrison earned $3,926. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-hughan-claims-arkie-division-title-on-greers-ferry

Hughan Claims Arkie Division Title on Greers Ferry

GREERS FERRY, Ark. – William Hughan of Little Rock, Arkansas, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Arkie Division tournament of 2015 on Greers Ferry Lake. For his victory, Hughan earned $4,350. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-bridwell-takes-opener-on-cherokee

Bridwell Takes Opener on Cherokee

MORRISTOWN, Tenn. – Jason Bridwell of Gray, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Volunteer Division tournament of 2015 on Cherokee Lake. For his victory, Bridwell earned $5,127. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-birge-boats-29-pounds-on-grand-lake

Birge Boats 29 Pounds on Grand Lake

GROVE, Okla. – Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 29 pounds, 1 ounce Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Birge earned $7,000. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-14-practice-pays-for-price-on-lake-russell

Practice Pays for Price on Lake Russell

ELBERTON, Ga. – Bo Price of Westminster, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds even Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Russell. For his victory, Price earned $6,796. READ MORE »