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Gates opens up lead at EverStart Lake Champlain tourney

Gates opens up lead at EverStart Lake Champlain tourney
Pro Brian Gates of Mendon, Vt., was able to parlay his hometown advantage into a whopping 19-pound, 3-ounce stringer and a first-place finish in today’s EverStart competition.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Local favorite Brian Gates of Mendon, Vt., used a wealth of fishing experience on Lake Champlain - 10 years to be exact - to jump atop the overall pro leaderboard after the first day of EverStart Northern Division competition on Lake Champlain. In fact, things went so smoothly for the Vermont native that it was hard to imagine exactly what he could have improved upon.

"It's awesome," said Gates of his first-place finish. "I really had a good day. I made all of the right decisions, I stuck with my game plan and the fish were exactly where I expected them to be. I had my limit by 11:15 a.m., and I just put my rod down and tried to help out my co-angler. We're culling 3-pound fish all day."

While Gates was able to parlay his hometown advantage into a whopping 19-pound, 3-ounce stringer in today's competition, he argued that being familiar with a lake isn't always a blessing.

"I'm from here, and I fish Lake Champlain about six days a week when I'm not traveling," said Gates. "And that clearly helped me. But I have a lot of friends from this area who came up empty today. I'm not sure what happened and they're probably not sure either. But it just goes to show you that a home-lake advantage doesn't always help."

Gates, who landed his catch by targeting grass and rocks with a combination of tubes and jigs, said that he's not about to rest on his laurels in tomorrow's competition.

"I'm going to go out there and try to catch 14 pounds," he said. "If I'm able to do that, I should be in good shape."

Although Gates clearly had a stellar day on the water today, he said that he might try to mix things up tomorrow.

"Today, I went after largemouth bass," said Gates, who made a 65-mile, one-way run to get to his prime fishing location. "But tomorrow, I'm thinking about targeting smallmouth bass so I can leave my good spot alone."

While Gates hasn't had the opportunity to fish in many EverStart events, he said he likes what he sees so far.

"I really appreciate FLW Outdoors coming up here," he said. "They really put on a good show."

Monsoor snags second place

Although Pro Tom Monsoor of Lacrosse, Wisc., has had a disappointing year by his own standards, he couldn't help but smile after finishing today in second place after weighing in a healthy 18-pound, 11-ounce catch.Although Tom Monsoor of Lacrosse, Wis., has had a disappointing year by his own standards, he couldn't help but smile after finishing today in second place after weighing in a healthy 18-pound, 11-ounce catch.

"I've had a pretty tough year, so it feels really good to finish where I did today given the fact that it's the last tournament of the year," said Monsoor. "I'm really excited. I absolutely love it up here."

Monsoor said he is enamored by both the quality and quantity of fish that Lake Champlain produces year after year.

"These fish up here are the wildest I've ever seen," said Monsoor. "These fish will tear the hooks right off the lures. The smallmouth fishing in this lake is just fantastic. I love lakes that have a lot of structure, and Lake Champlain seems to have a little bit of everything. You can fish boulders, lily pads, reeds, points or grass. It's just a lot of fun."

However, Monsoor said the key to today's success was making a few minor adjustments that he failed to make in practice.

"All week long in practice the fish were playing with my top-water baits, but they really weren't eating them," he said. "So I made an adjustment and weighted down the tail, and it really seemed to work. I also changed up my fishing line. I'm going with Berkely Big Game Green line now, and that seemed to make a difference as well."

Although Monsoor has had his fair share of top finishes over the years, he said that he still gets excited after a good finish - even if it is just for a day.

"It's always a thrill to be near the top, whether you're fishing an FLW tournament or an EverStart event," he said. "It never gets old to me. I see some people get off the water complaining that fishing is a lot of work. But I just tell them, `Hey, you're talking to the wrong guy.'"

Best of the rest

Pro Thomas LaVictoire of West Rutland, Vt., finished the day tied for third place after landing a total catch of 17 pounds, 14 ounces. LaVictoire also won $750 after netting the largest bass of the tournament to date - a 6-pound, 1-ounce largemouth - to capture today's Big Bass award.Thomas LaVictoire of West Rutland, Vt., finished the day tied for third place after landing a total catch of 17 pounds, 14 ounces. LaVictoire also won $750 after netting the largest bass of the tournament to date - a 6-pound, 1-ounce largemouth - to capture today's big-bass award.

FLW Tour pro Sam Newby of Pocola, Okla., also finished the day in third place with an identical 17-pound, 14-ounce catch.

Patrick Martin of Carver, Minn., used a 17-pound, 10-ounce catch to finish in fifth place.

Dingle puts on fishing clinic in Co-angler Division

Johnathan Dingle of South Meriden, Conn., not only finished the day in first place in the Co-angler Division by landing a whopping 19-pound catch, but he also managed to best every angler in the Pro Division with the lone exception of Gates. Not a bad performance for an EverStart rookie.

"I'm happy and very proud," said Dingle, one of the most affable anglers on the tour. "I was really worried at first. The water wasn't looking right and I wasn't really sure how the day would go. But I settled down and, eventually, everything worked out."

Ironically, the key to Dingle's success was an old crankbait he'd kept around for years but never used - until today.

"I bought this Mann's crankbait about six years ago and I never got around to using it," said Dingle. "But today, I knew I needed a deeper lure so I gave it a try. Obviously, it worked out great. After this tournament is over, I might retire that lure. But right now, I'm very stoked."

Dingle, who placed third in a Wal-Mart BFL tourney earlier this month, said that he was careful to pick and choose his spots wisely while fishing from the back of the boat in today's competition.

"When you're in the back of the boat, you have to do what your pro gives you," he said. "I was just trying to do something different from what my pro was doing. I made sure that I fished clean water - any water my pro decided not to fish."

Although Dingle was proud of his first-place finish in today's competition, he said he's not going to let up at all tomorrow - despite his commanding lead.

"In this sport, you can be top dog one day and zero the next. So I can't really sit back and relax tomorrow," he said. "I'm just going to try to keep a calm head, keep my line in the water and hope for the best. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow - that will depend on my pro. But I think I'm definitely going to try that crankbait again."

Dingle also won $250 after netting the day's big-bass award - a 4-pound, 14-ounce catch - in the Co-angler Division.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top five co-anglers in today's competition were Troy Sprague (second) of Lincoln, Neb., with a catch of 18 pounds, 4 ounces; Dean Meckes (third) of Clayton, N.Y., with a catch of 15 pounds, 9 ounces; Bob Melanson (fourth) of Springfield, Mass., with a catch of 15 pounds, 8 ounces; and Philip Borsa (fifth) of Redford, Mich., with a catch of 15 pounds, 6 ounces.

Tomorrow's takeoff is scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at Mooney Bay Marina, located at 15 Mooney Bay in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Click here for a preview of day two.

Related links:

Photos
Results
Results of day-one pairings
Day-two pairings
Press release

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2003-09-24-lake-champlain 

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