UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Quick Bites: Forrest Wood Open, Day 1

Quick Bites: Forrest Wood Open, Day 1
Day one at Lake Champlain was the heaviest day on record for the FLW Tour. Anglers caught many, many smallmouths and largemouths - as shown by fifth-place pro Jim Moynagh here, who holds one of each.

Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Forrest Wood Open
Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Opening round, Wednesday

Quick (record) numbers

2,349-0: Total weight, in pounds and ounces, of keeper fish caught by the entire Pro Division Wednesday at Lake Champlain. It is a new one-day weight record on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. The previous best day was at Lake St. Clair in 1999 where the pros hauled in 2,124-14.

871: Total number of bass weighed in by the Pro Division, also a new tour record. The previous best was 795 bass at Lake St. Clair in 1999.

170: Number of pros who weighed in a five-bass limit Wednesday. In fact, only eight pros out of the entire field of 178 failed to catch a limit.

Champlain dreams

It's official ... Lake Champlain is one of the best - if not the best - bass fisheries in America. Or so it seems after day one of the Forrest Wood Open. Not only did this lake smash tour weight records and fish totals Wednesday, it has unequivocally earned the admiration of almost every competitor here:

"There is not a better place to fish anywhere. I've never seen a place like this. It's just phenomenal. It's unreal how much baitfish there is here. With the unlimited bait, that's how the fish get so fat. They're short, but fat. This is my favorite lake by far." - Pro Clark Wendlandt, who weighed in five bass worth 17 pounds, 2 ounces and placed 10th on day one.

"This is my fourth tournament here and it never ceases to amaze me how we can just come up here, have a blast and catch fish after fish after fish."
- Pro Mike Wurm, 15th place with five bass weighing 16-9.

"I caught over 20 keepers today. Of the 10 I threw back, they were all in the 2 1/2- to 2 ¾-pound range. I hated throwing them back because it hurts. This place is incredible. I caught 14 pounds of fish in the first hour and just kept culling all day."
- Pro Aaron Martens, 23rd place with five fish weighing 16-5.

"You can wake up in the morning and say: Do I want to catch largemouth or smallmouth today? This is a fun lake."
- Pro Curt Lytle, in 74th place with five bass weighing 14-0.

I could go on, but you get the idea. From another perspective, try to digest this: the 173rd-place pro Wednesday, Stephen Anderson, caught a limit of keeper bass (they weighed a collective 7-2). Only one pro angler and two co-anglers out of a total field of 356 failed to catch at least one keeper fish. Numbers like these are simply unprecedented on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour.

A new Michigan Man? ... No, we're certainly not ready to put Kevin VanDam out to pasture just yet, but there's another force on tour coming out of the Wolverine State. Pro leader Chad Grigsby of Colon, Mich., is making his mark very quickly on the FLW Tour. He just started competing on this circuit in 2002 and, in the two events he has completed, he has already finished 24th (Beaver Lake) and 19th (Old Hickory). His 19-pound, 14-ounce heaviest stringer of day one here at Champlain has people wondering: Is Grigsby the next coming of VanDam? "I guess I'm on a roll," Grigsby said modestly. "I've had three good tournaments in a row, but you can't really dominate without winning one." Still, the 29-year-old has no shortage of confidence when it comes to fishing these events. "I was on the waiting list (to compete) or I would have cracked them at Ouachita, too," he said. Maybe he is simply "on a roll," but it has to be a bit intimidating to other anglers when Grigsby admits that he caught his big stringer Wednesday at "my third best spot. I culled 15 pounds today. Each fish I caught got bigger and bigger." He has high hopes to continue his success this week. "You can't stub your toe," he said. "I need 17 or 18 pounds tomorrow or I won't even be fishing Friday. I just hope I can do it again."

2002 Angler of the Year: Jay Yelas? ... While it seemed a foregone conclusion that VanDam would take his second FLW points title here this week, Jay Yelas is making a run at it. Yelas placed 19th Wednesday and VanDam placed 30th. Yelas is 28 points behind VanDam for Angler of the Year. If VanDam somehow finishes worse than 29th place Thursday and Yelas can make the cut, Yelas has a legitimate shot to do it. He already moved up on VanDam by 11 points Wednesday (granted, it's after only one day of competition). Depending on what VanDam does Thursday, Yelas basically has to fish out of his mind at this already mind-blowing tournament (read: win or something close to it) to come back and take the title. With Kevin VanDam as his obstacle, that may not be a very likely scenario - but it IS possible.

Forrest Wood Open machine ... Since Jim Moynagh (pictured at top) won the inaugural Forrest Wood Open on Lake Minnetonka in 1997, the Minnesota pro has kind of fallen off the map. His best finish in 2002 so far is 41st place, but it appears that he is alive and kicking here. He caught the fifth-heaviest pro stringer on day one with 18 pounds 2 ounces. Why the resurgence now? A look at his record might help explain. His two best finishes are at the Forrest Wood Open - first in 1997 and second in 1998. The Open is traditionally held in June, when Moynagh feels more comfortable fishing. "Growing up my whole life (in Minnesota), the season doesn't open until the spawn on up," he said. "So I don't have a lot of experience fishing for pre-spawn fish. All of my experience is with spawn, post-spawn and fall fishing." And like Champlain, his previous Open successes came on decidedly northern lakes - Minnetonka in 1997 and the Connecticut River in 1998. "Maybe there is something to this northern deal," he said.

New York state of mind ... Lady angler Judy Israel's lead in the Co-angler Division is poignant for more than just the idea that she's helping to break the gender barrier in tournament fishing. Like many competitors at Champlain this week, Israel was in Plattsburgh last year pre-fishing for the FLW Championship when the World Trade Center was attacked just down the Hudson River. Israel is a native of the Bronx who now calls Clewiston, Fla., home, and she said returning here brought back some tough memories. "We were here for the Championship when all those terrible events happened. It was hard to come back," she said. "But I had a great day today. It feels wonderful to do it here because I lived in New York for so long. But I never really fished here. It wasn't until I moved to Clewiston that I started fishing artificial lures. It's just wonderful to do it in New York."

Quick links, Day 1:

Grigsby grabs pro lead at $1 million Forrest Wood Open
Photos
Results
Tomorrow's pairings
Press release

Tags: jeff-schroeder  quick-bites  2002-06-19-lake-champlain 

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