UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

FLW preview: Lake Champlain, June 19-22

FLW preview: Lake Champlain, June 19-22
Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., was officially crowned 2001 Land O' Lakes Angler of the Year. The prestigious award is presented to the most conistent angler on the tour over the course of an entire season. VanDam, who scored an amazing 1,105 points out of a possible 1,200, won $25,000 and a brand new Ranger boat. His picture will also appear on a collector's edition Kellogg's cereal box.

FLW Tour heads to nation's sixth-largest lake for final event of regular season

The upcoming Forrest Wood Open on Lake Champlain can be summed up with one word: H-U-G-E.

For starters, the lake is absolutely humongous by FLW standards - measuring 120 miles in length, boasting over 435 miles of surface water and containing a volume of 6.8 trillion gallons of water. There is also a huge total purse of $1.05 million for the taking - including a top prize of $210,000 in the Pro Division and $40,000 earmarked for first place in the Co-angler Division. In addition, the outcome of the Forrest Wood Open will have huge implications for anglers seeking a berth in the 2002 FLW Championship. Finally, the tournament boasts a huge subplot: the concluding chapters in the race for 2002 FLW Angler of the Year.

In short, the Forrest Wood Open could easily materialize as one of the most exciting and defining FLW Tour events of the entire 2002 season. And that would be ... well ... huge.

Lake Champlain history, facts

With 587 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 400 feet, Lake Champlain represents the largest lake FLW anglers will visit on the tour this year. Meandering along the border of New York and Vermont, Lake Champlain boasts more than 70 islands and some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States, featuring impressive vistas encompassing the Adirondacks, Green Mountains and Taconic Mountains as well as the Champlain and Vermont valleys.

Lake Champlain flows from Whitehall, N.Y., north across the U.S.-Canadian border to its outlet at the Richelieu River in Quebec, where it eventually drains into the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River. Although Lake Champlain is long - covering more than 100 miles from north to south - the lake is relatively narrow, measuring only 12 miles at its widest point. Champlain, which has an average depth of 64 feet, can be broken down into five distinct segments (from north to south): Missisquoi Bay, Inland Sea, Malletts Bay, Main Lake and South Lake.

Tournament strategy wide open

As a result of a number of factors - lake size, seasonal patterns and extensive populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass - anglers will undoubtedly have a multitude of fishing options at their disposal on Lake Champlain.

"You could go up there and fish for nothing but largemouth bass, or you could do nothing but target smallmouth bass all week. Or you could say to yourself that you want to try and catch a mixed bag," said FLW Tour pro Scott Martin. "Some guys will catch most of their fish on plastics while others will use spinner baits, hard jerkbaits and big black and blue jigs. The spawn will also be going on, so you're going to have a number of different ways to catch fish."

FLW Tour pro Wesley Strader agrees that successful tournament strategies are going to be as diverse as the anglers themselves.

"It's unbelievable how many ways you can catch fish at Lake Champlain," said Strader. "It's definitely going to be one of those tournaments where you can catch fish using almost any method. People will be flipping, sight-fishing, and throwing spinner baits and tubes. However, I don't think there will be a whole lot of fish caught deep. I think it's a little too early in the season for that up there."

While most anglers would be hard-pressed to even think about using sight-fishing techniques in early summer at most FLW venues, up on Lake Champlain in late June, sight-fishing becomes a very real possibility.

"The largemouth bass are in the pre-spawn and spawning phases, while the smallmouth bass are either spawning or in the post-spawn phase," said Martin, who has already done some pre-tournament scouting. "So, sight-fishing could definitely come into play."

The overwhelming size of Lake Champlain should provide a welcome respite to anglers weary of the heavy fishing-boat congestion that plagues some of the smaller bodies of water during the first few days of a tournament.

"That's another great thing about the size of Lake Champlain: Not everyone is going to be jammed up right on top of each other," said Strader. "On Champlain, if you do find a couple of good spots, you might just have them to yourself the entire time."

Winning by ounces

Because Lake Champlain is such a healthy fishery, many anglers are already predicting that this tournament could produce one of the largest total catches of the year on the FLW Tour.

"There's going to be a lot of fish caught," said Strader. "I think it will take about 17 pounds a day to make the cut, but there are going to be a lot of 15-pound stringers caught. This tournament could very well be decided by a few ounces. It could be that close."

Martin agreed that the tournament leaderboard would most likely be separated by a razor-thin margin.

"Most of the time you need about a 3 1/2-pound average each day to get into the money round on Lake Champlain," said Martin. "But a 4-pound average could be enough to win the tournament. A few ounces could definitely make all the difference. It's going to be really tight."


Because the finals of the Forrest Wood Open could come down to only a few ounces, Martin said the key to winning the tournament is being able to target the right species of fish at the right time.

"This is the best double-tiered lake in the country. And by that, I mean that Lake Champlain is absolutely incredible as both a largemouth fishery ANDa smallmouth fishery," said Martin. "You're probably going to need a good largemouth catch to win. But if the smallmouth bite is going, you could easily catch a 20-pound sack of fish. Anglers are definitely going to have to make some decisions."

So, given all of that information, which anglers are expected to do well?

"This tournament is going to be totally up for grabs," said Strader. "I'd be almost willing to guarantee that everyone is going to catch a limit and that every ounce of fish is going to make a significant difference. It's going to be a slugfest out there."

Angler-of-the-Year titles to be awarded

The FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain will also feature a very notable subplot as the tournament progresses; namely, the race for the 2002 FLW Angler-of-the-Year award in the Pro and Co-angler divisions. Currently, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., is the front-runner in the Pro Division with 914 total points. If VanDam manages to win the title, he would become the first FLW angler to win the prestigious award in back-to-back years. In second place is Jay Yelas of Tyler, Texas, with 886 points. Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., is in third place with 857 points. In the Co-angler Division, W.D. "Hoot" Gibson of Bryant, Ark., is in first place with 898 points. Co-angler Fred Hill (813 points) of Roxboro, N.C., is in second, while John Ballard of Parkville, Mo., and Al Little of Greensboro, N.C., are tied for third place with 801 points.

The FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain also represents the last chance for anglers to qualify for the 2002 FLW Championship, scheduled to take place Sept. 11-14 on Cross Lake in Shreveport, La. Only the top 48 anglers (based on year-end standings) in each division will be invited to the championship.

Links:

Wal-Mart FLW Tour headed to Lake Champlain

Tags: gary-mortenson  pre-tournament  2002-06-19-lake-champlain 

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

Exploring Harris with Tim Frederick

To say Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Tim Frederick loves fishing in Florida would be an understatement. The Leesburg local and fifth-year Pro Circuit veteran calls the Harris Chain of Lakes home, and his only FLW win came just a bit farther south on Okeechobee in 2018. After a 22nd-place finish in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener on the St. Johns River last week, Frederick has fully turned his attention to his home bodies of water. READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Spring can be one of the best times to launch a boat in the clear waters of Lake Hartwell. That’s why the Georgia-South Carolina border reservoir might be the perfect venue to start the Eastern Division of the Toyota Series on March 3.  READ MORE »

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Ask Matt Becker how his practice is going for this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain, and the Pennsylvania pro has nothing to complain about. For starters, he’s in the Sunshine State, and it’s about 80 degrees. The 50-degree swing compared to what folks back home in Finleyville, Pa., are experiencing is certainly pleasant. The fishing has also been pretty good through a day and a half of practice. READ MORE »

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

If it’s big bass you want, late winter and early spring are ideal times to catch them at Lake Chickamauga, which is why the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division opener is perfectly timed to be a big-bass slugfest. The tournament, which runs Feb. 27-29, could produce some of the biggest five-bass limits FLW will see all year. Just how good the fishing will be depends on the weather, and whether the region ever sees an end to the rain that’s been falling recently.  READ MORE »

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Stop No. 2 of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division is Lewis Smith Lake. Smith is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the east, and late winter should provide some really good fishing. READ MORE »

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big largemouths and lots of spots are the main attractions at Alabama’s Lake Martin, where the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Bama Division kicks off its 2020 season Feb. 8. Local hammer David Gaston, who’s won the last two Bama events at Martin, expects a typical wintertime tournament this season with solid weights across the board. READ MORE »

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 South Carolina Division schedule at the Jewel of South Carolina, Lake Murray, which is the former host site for multiple FLW Cup events. Murray is full of big bass and can churn out weights in the upper 20s if conditions line up right. Thus far in 2020, warm, wet conditions have been great for bass fishing. Though patterns might vary slightly from a “normal” winter, competitors can expect to have a good time fishing shallow with power-fishing baits.  READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit kicks off this week in Brookeland, Texas, at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which means it’s also time for another season of FLW Live with hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell. Here's how and when to watch. READ MORE »

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

The Weather Factor: Rayburn

Weather is a storyline in almost every tournament throughout the course of the year, but from winter through spring it can often be the biggest influencing factor in a tournament. Warming trends and cold snaps can send fish flooding to the bank or retreating to the safety of deeper water in no time. READ MORE »

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Last season, Jordan Osborne made the top 10 in the season opener on Sam Rayburn, and he’s got the chance to kick things off in a similar style this week. READ MORE »

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

At just 20 years old, Colby Miller is pretty young to be a rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. However, the Elmer, La., native isn’t lacking in accolades, as he’s now finished 24th or better in points in the Southwestern Division of the FLW Series two years in a row. Additionally, he’s starting the season close to home – Miller guides for bass and crappie on nearby Toledo Bend, and he’s got a lot of tournament time in on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

Riding Rayburn with Tutt

Riding Rayburn with Tutt

One of the nicest and most experienced pros on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Jim Tutt has fished about everywhere, but he calls Texas home. Last year, Tutt finished fifth in the season-opener on Sam Rayburn, and it’s also where he earned one of his three FLW Series-level wins. READ MORE »

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

2020 Cherokee Lake Preview

Built in the 1940s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Cherokee Lake is nestled in the hills of east Tennessee. The Holston River impoundment lies roughly between Norris Lake to the northwest and Douglas Lake to the southeast. The clear waters of Cherokee can fluctuate about 30 feet between winter pool and spring flooding, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t out of the ordinary for the average east Tennessee reservoir. So, depending on the water level, Cherokee has about 400 miles of shoreline and 28,780 surface acres. READ MORE »

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Harris Chain Preview

One of the most fun places FLW visits, the Harris Chain is a collection of lakes in central Florida that includes Lake Harris, Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. In all, the pros have the run of 10 lakes, plus the myriad residential canals, rivers and backwaters that spread out off of them. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

Built on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a fairly typical example of a Southeastern spotted bass and largemouth fishery. Though there are shad and bream, the primary forage is blueback herring. Hartwell has very little vegetation outside of flooded dog fennel, and the primary cover types are docks, rock, shoreline wood, brush and cane piles. READ MORE »

2020 Detroit River Preview

2020 Detroit River Preview

Though the Pro Circuit finale takes off from the Detroit River, that’s hardly the only place the pros will be fishing. Takeoff is near the southern mouth of the river, giving pros easy access to the west end of Lake Erie. At the other end of the river is Lake St. Clair, which has been home to some of the most epic smallmouth beatdowns on record in recent years. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

2020 Lake Dardanelle Preview

Situated between the Ozark National Forest to the north and the Ouachita National Forest to the south, Lake Dardanelle in Northwest Arkansas is a roughly 34,000-acre impoundment on the Arkansas River that offers a multitude of unique and varied opportunities to catch quality bass. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Martin Preview

2020 Lake Martin Preview

Lake Martin was created back in 1926 when the Martin Dam was completed on the Tallapoosa River. At the time, the 44,000-acre reservoir was the largest man-made body of water in the world, though it obviously no longer holds that distinction. READ MORE »

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Perhaps the hottest spotted bass lake in the East, Lanier should be rocking for the Bulldog Division opener. With lots of plump wintertime spotted bass coming to the scale, along with some largemouths, it would be no surprise to see a winning weight in excess of 20 pounds.   READ MORE »

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Toledo Bend is a legendary reservoir that straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana. It spans some 65 miles along the impounded Sabine River, which runs north to south, and sprawls across about 185,000 acres at full pool. Though Toledo Bend has a number of major tributaries along its length, the bulk of the reservoir is its straight, wide-open main-lake span. READ MORE »