UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Oh boy, Oberski!

Oh boy, Oberski!
In a day that saw nearly 4,000 pounds of bass brought to the scales, pro Mike Oberski of Ypsilanti, Mich., hauled in a limit of five that weighed 19 pounds, 4 ounces to lead opening day of the EverStart Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - These Northern Division anglers are going to wear out the scale by the end of this EverStart Series season. After posting a near record weight total at Lake Erie last month, they went and beat it here at Lake Champlain.

Exactly 192 pros went fishing Wednesday and exactly 157 of them caught five-bass limits. Of the 192 co-anglers, 95 of them caught limits. In total, 3,992 pounds, 11 ounces of bass crossed the scale. That not only crushed the EverStart weight mark set here at Champlain last year (2,991-13), it trounced the one-day weight total from Erie last month (3,646-5) and topped the all-time mark (3,708-2), which was set at Erie in 2003.

But pulling almost 2 tons of fish out of Lake Champlain was no surprise to anyone here Wednesday. It's obviously pretty easy to catch bass here. It was those anglers who were able to hook into those moneymaking 4-pounders that turned heads.

Leading the charge in the Pro Division was Mike Oberski of Ypsilanti, Mich., with a limit weighing 19 pounds, 4 ounces.

"I had a good day," he said. "I covered a lot of water. I'm fishing a pattern that's not one specific area, but a bunch of different areas."

Whereas Clewiston, Florida's Scott Martin won the Forrest Wood Open here a couple months ago by sight-fishing for bedding smallmouths, the spawn is over at Champlain. So Oberski's leading limit was filled with five, nice, 4-pound largemouths that he caught among shallow vegetation using a jig.

"I'm fishing them scattered," Oberski said. "I was just getting one here, one there in three or four key areas. Basically, I'm pattern-fishing here the same way I do back in Michigan. There's definitely a method to it."

What that method is, exactly, he's not saying just yet. Whether it was his bait color, fishing depth, timing locations, whatever, Oberski understandably wanted to keep it to himself Wednesday evening. After all, he's not the only one catching fish this week; the first non-limit only placed 134th on day.

"Hopefully, tomorrow I can do exactly what I did today. I'm just glad that I got what I got, and I hope it holds up," Oberski said. "I'm not saving fish for anything. I'll worry about that if I make the cut."

Pro Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., placed second just 3 ounces behind the leader with 19 pounds, 1 ounces.Harrison, Knapp close second, third

Chip Harrison of Bremen, Ind., placed second just 3 ounces behind the leader with 19 pounds, 1 ounces. He caught his limit early, by about 8 a.m., fishing a well-worked flat among a lot of boats. While he worried about the traffic, he was grateful for the mostly sunny, calm day that prevailed on Champlain Wednesday.

"It's one little area on this big flat where they seem to be bunched up," he said. "The wind laid down a little, which helped me out on that open flat."

One ounce behind Harrison with 19 pounds even is Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa., who is looking to extend his success on Champlain.One ounce behind Harrison with 19 pounds even is Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Pa., who is looking to extend his success on Champlain. In June Knapp won the co-angler title in the FLW's Forrest Wood Open here.

"I had an awesome day one Champlain," said Knapp, who caught all largemouths Wednesday, like he did in FLW competition. "I just seem to have a knack for catching them here. I'm just flipping a black Mizmo tube up shallow."

Strader fourth, Vida fifth

Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., made a strong push for the Northern Division points title by opening this week with a fourth-place catch on day one. He caught a limit weighing 18 pounds, 13 ounces.

His good day didn't come without difficulties, however. An errant wave knocked out his big motor later in the day, and he had to abandon ship and catch a ride back in. When his ride ran out of gas not far from the weigh-in site at Mooney Bay, they ended up trolling into the marina.

Currently in fifth place in the standings, Strader made up some serious ground on the other points leaders and could be the one to watch as the Northern Division Angler of the Year race wraps up this week.

A former Northern tournament champion, Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., placed fifth Wednesday with a limit weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros after day one at Lake Champlain are Craig Workman of Fort Worth, Texas, with 18 pounds, 11 ounces (6th place); Harvey Norman of Delaware, Ohio, with 18-10 (7th); Art Ferguson of St. Clair Shores, Mich., with 18-8 (8th); Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., with 18-7 (9th); and Jason Graham of Sanford, Mich., with 18-5 (10th).

All 10 of the top pros caught limits.

Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark., earned $750 as Wednesday's Pro Division big-bass award winner, thanks to a 5-pound, 12-ounce bass.

Larry Butler of New Haven, Vt., leads the Co-angler Division after day one with a five-bass catch weighing 19 pounds, 5 ounces.Butler bags biggest sack, leads co-anglers

Local angler Larry Butler of New Haven, Vt., led the Co-angler Division with the heaviest limit in either division. His five bass weighed 19 pounds, 5 ounces and beat the next closest co-angler by more than a pound.

"It was kind of a funny bite. A couple of times the big fish would bump the bait, but they wouldn't take it," he said. "But, actually, you couldn't ask for a better day on the lake."

Butler caught his limit, all smallmouths, by fishing "deeper water," he said. He added that he used one bait to land to his keepers, but wouldn't reveal much more.

Second place for the co-anglers went to Eugene Gagner of Highgate Center, Vt., for a limit weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces. Gagner's pro partner for the was Karen Savik of St. Louis Park, Minn.

"It was a little lucky," Gagner said. "But we fished well together. She didn't cut me off and I fished opposite of her. If she was running a crankbait, I'd throw a Senko. Stuff like that helps, I think."

Co-angler Christopher Burns of Durham, N.C., placed third with a limit weighing 17 pounds, 6 ounces.

Ben Hogwood of Virginia Beach, Va., placed fourth from the back of the boat with a limit weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces.

Kenneth Witter of Pine Valley, N.Y., rounded out the top five co-anglers with a limit weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers after day one at Lake Champlain are Dominic Gambardella of North Haven, Conn., with 16 pounds, 10 ounces (6th place); David Lawson of Richmond, Ky., with 16-8 (7th); Ron Washburn of Brookline, Mass., with 16-6 (8th); Mike Lawrence of Toledo, Ohio, with 16-5 (9th); and Zackery Seal of Eldred, Pa., with 16-2 (10th).

All of the top 10 co-anglers also caught limits.

Jerry Thompson of Bemidji, Minn., earned co-angler big-bass honors Wednesday and $250 for a 4-pound, 12-ounce bass.

The opening round of EverStart Series Northern Division competition at Lake Champlain continues with its second half Thursday as anglers take off from Mooney Bay Marina in Plattsburgh, located at 15 Mooney Bay, at 7 a.m. Eastern time. The full fields will be cut down to the top 20 anglers apiece following tomorrow's action.

Related tourism link:

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Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2004-09-22-lake-champlain 

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