UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

The Art of fishing

The Art of fishing
Pro Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich., used an outstanding catch of 17 pounds, 6 ounces, to grab the top qualifying spot heading into Saturday's finals on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich., couldn't have asked for a better birthday present. Not only did he qualify for tomorrow's pro finals with an outstanding catch of 17 pounds, 6 ounces, but he also managed to land the day's biggest stringer. Clearly, it was one happy birthday, indeed.

"Today is my birthday and I was really blessed," said Ferguson, who is gunning for the first EverStart title of his career. "I feel really good about my chances. I'm on a roll and I feel like I've got a good rhythm going. I've been catching fish in different spots every day. I've caught them on the bottom and I've caught them on the top. I just hope I catch them tomorrow."

Ferguson said the key to his success this week has been his versatility.

"I've really been fishing with an open mind," he said. "In the past, I might not always have done that. But I've managed to adapt every single day. And I think that's really helped me."

Ferguson said he is targeting bass in about 5 to 8 feet of water with a combination of flukes, top-waters, Senkos and tube baits. However, Ferguson said that his main bait has been a Mizmo tubebait that he helped design.

"I call it, the `Work of Art,' tubebait," he said. "Basically, it's a special watermelon-type color with a variety of speckled flakes. It really sparkles and works great on sunny days in clear water - which Lake Champlain has a lot of. But I've also recently discovered that it works well on overcast days as well."

Because Ferguson has had good luck fishing a variety of different locations and lures, he said he isn't quite sure what to expect tomorrow.

"I'm just going to go out there and go fishing tomorrow," he said. "I have about six spots, and I'm just going to hope that I'll be at the right place at the right time. Timing will be everything."

Lucarelli hones in on smallmouth bass, tournament title

New Hampshire fishing guide Joe Lucarelli has been one of the most consistent anglers on the tour all week. After logging a 17-pound, 2-ounce catch in the opening round of competition, Lucarelli came right back and landed a 17-pound, 3-ounce stringer in the semifinals to finish the day in second place. And he did it all with nary a largemouth bass.

"I've been targeting smallmouth bass exclusively all week and, so far, it's working out," said Lucarelli of Meredith, N.H. "Overall, I feel pretty good. I had my limit today by 10:30 a.m., but I'm kind of moving around a lot."

Lucarelli said that he's using a variety of Yamamoto baits to target smallmouth bass in about six or seven different areas.

"I'm kind of fishing all over the place," he said. "I'm targeting all different types of cover. But I'm not sure what's going to happen tomorrow. I could catch 15 pounds at my first spot tomorrow or catch nothing. With smallmouth bass, you just never know. But I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in the finals. I'm definitely not going to put any pressure on myself."

Best of the rest

Randy Ramsey of Battle Creek, Mich., used a 16-pound, 4-ounce catch to qualify for the finals in third place. However, he acknowledged that had it not been for Mark Zona, a fellow competitor who also qualified for the finals, he might never have gotten the opportunity to fish for upwards of $62,000 in tomorrow's finals.

"I owe a lot to Mark Zona," said Ramsey. "He gave me an area to fish, and it's really been working out."

Allen Cauthen of Lancaster, S.C., relied almost exclusively on a Carolina rig to net a 15-pound, 10-ounce stringer and qualify for the finals in fourth place.

Scott Green of Waterbury Center, Vt., used a 15-pound, 5-ounce catch to grab the fifth qualifying spot.

Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists were Mike Trombly (sixth) of Perrysburg, Ohio, with a catch of 15 pounds, 4 ounces; Vic Vatalaro (seventh) of Kent, Ohio, with a catch of 15 pounds, 4 ounces; opening-round leader Brian Gates (eighth) of Mendon, Vt., with a catch of 15 pounds; Mark "The Z-man" Zona (ninth) with a catch of 14 pounds, 5 ounces; and Tom Monsoor (10th) of Lacrosse, Wis., with a catch of 14 pounds, 2 ounces.

Baffa continues Lake Champlain magic

Jeff Baffa of Tinley Park, Ill., landed a catch of 16 pounds, 14 ounces in today's competition to grab the top qualifying spot in the Co-angler Division heading into the finals. After taking home a second-place finish and a check for $20,000 at the FLW Tour's Forrest Wood Open tournament on Lake Champlain in 2002, Jeff Baffa of Tinley Park, Ill., became an instant fan of upstate New York's bountiful fisheries. However, after landing a catch of 16 pounds, 14 ounces in today's competition to grab the top qualifying spot in the Co-angler Division, Baffa just might want to consider taking up permanent residence here.

"I love this lake. I think it's my favorite lake of all time now," said Baffa. "It's just been an unbelievable week. I don't know what else to tell you. I think I'm more nervous now than I was at the Forrest Wood Open. I'm still shaking."

Baffa said he is gaining confidence with each passing day.

"I caught my limit by 9 a.m. this morning, and I basically sat down the rest of the day and helped out my pro partner," said Baffa. "But hats off to my partner Randy Ramsey. He let me throw my baits wherever I wanted today. He brought me to a great spot and we stayed there all day."

Baffa said that he used a combination of Lucky Craft jerkbaits - a Deep-diving 78 and Pointer 100 - to land the majority of his catch.

"We were on a big flat and the fish were everywhere," he said. "We're casting in every direction. But the key for me was throwing my bait perpendicular to the wind. When I did that, I caught fish."

Baffa said he and his pro partner targeted smaller bass in 6 feet of water and "bigger fish" in anywhere from 18 to 20 feet.

"But the best moment came when I hooked into a 4-pounder," he said. "It went under the boat, and when it came up, two big fish were following it. I yelled to (Ramsey) to throw his bait toward the fish. He made a quick cast over towards me and right away he ooked into a good fish. We spent the next few minutes scrambling around trying to net the other guy's fish."

Linton snares second place

Dave Linton of Twin Lakes, Wis., qualified for the co-angler finals in the runner-up position after landing a healthy 15-pound, 7-ounce stringer.

"I'm really excited," Linton said. "I learned a lot from my pro today and I was lucky to get five good bites. I'm kind of nervous right now. I don't know if I'll get much sleep tonight."

Best of the rest

Kevin McClurg of Huntertown, Ind., used a 13-pound, 5-ounce catch to qualify for the co-angler finals in third place.

Fourth place belonged to Jason Sweatman of Wilmot, Wis. Sweatman ultimately recorded a total catch of 13 pounds. Meanwhile, Philip Borsa of Redford, Mich., grabbed the fifth qualifying spot with a catch of 12 pounds, 10 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler finalists were Troy Sprague (sixth) of Lincoln, Neb., with a catch of 12 pounds, 1 ounce; Doug Troyer (seventh) of Walkertown, Ind., with a catch of 11 pounds, 9 ounces; Mark McNeil (eighth) of Ledyard, Conn., with a catch of 11 pounds, 3 ounces; Dean Meckes (ninth) of Clayton, N.Y., with a catch of 11 pounds; and Terry Hess (tenth) of Clewiston, Fla., with a catch of 9 pounds, 10 ounces.

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

Related links:

Photos
Results
Results of day-three pairings
Day-four pairings

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

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