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Chapman blows into Champlain lead

Chapman blows into Champlain lead
Pro Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W.Va., caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 11 ounces to lead day one of the EverStart Series Northeast Division event on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - They really couldn't have asked for better weather conditions when EverStart Series anglers took off from Plattsburgh Boat Basin at sunrise Wednesday morning: sun, warmth and calm. But by 8 a.m. the southeast wind had picked up speed and turned big Lake Champlain into the spine-crunching washing machine for which it's infamous.

"The wind just played havoc with everything," said Ricky Doyle, a local pro from Keeseville, N.Y., who placed sixth on day one. "I had some bigger fish located in practice, but I went there and there were 4- and 5-foot waves washing over the milfoil. So that was useless."

Still, despite the wind, this is Lake Champlain. Last year, the EverStart event at Champlain set weight records when the field hauled in more than 8,000 pounds of fish over four days. So this year it was no surprise to see, in a field of 168 boats, 122 of the pros and 68 co-anglers catch five-bass limits to open the tournament. Collectively, the pros managed to catch more than 1,800 pounds of bass and the co-anglers landed almost 1,500 pounds Wednesday.

"It's amazing," 81st-place pro Pete Gluszek of Franklinville, N.J., said. "Guys are coming in with 12, 13 and 14 pounds, and they're disappointed in their catch because this is such an amazing fishery."

"This place is just a fish factory," said pro Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, who placed just 29th despite catching a good limit weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces.

Emerging from the limit-fest was Bill Chapman of Salt Rock, W.Va., whose leading stringer in the Pro Division weighed 18 pounds, 11 ounces.

A stiff breeze churns up Lake Champlain as EverStart boats make their way back into Plattsburgh Boat Basin.Unlike calm days on Champlain when anglers can make the long run south to largemouth territory on the lower end of the lake, many of the leading bags under today's blustery conditions were filled with smallmouths caught a lot closer to Plattsburgh. Such was the case with Chapman, who said he stayed almost within sight of the takeoff point most of the day.

"Where I caught them, the wind had no effect whatsoever," Chapman said. "I found those fish when I was up here practicing for the FLW Championship that was canceled by 9/11 (in 2001). They've been there every year since then."

Chapman estimated that he and co-angler partner Edward Pecore caught close to 40 keeper bass Wednesday, and they were all smallmouths.

"Today, you could catch them any way you wanted to. I caught some on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, tubes and jerkbaits," Chapman said. "I lost one that was about 6 pounds, and that hurt me a little bit because I would have had more than 20 pounds. But it was a pretty good day. This lake's been good to me."

Lefebre second

With so many limits, the leaderboard after day one was, as expected, all bunched up.

Tucking in tight behind Chapman was pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., in second place with a smallmouth limit weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces.

Lefebre toyed with the idea of running down to the Ticonderoga area to fish for largemouths, but wisely turned around two miles into his run and went to his smallmouth area.

"On my first cast, I caught a 4-pounder, and that made me stay," he said. "I caught a ton of fish, probably 30 or 40 keepers, and I didn't even fish some of the sweet spots. I had 16 pounds on my first five fish, and I was culling 3 ¼-pounders all day."

Like Chapman, Lefebre said he lost a big one that would have pushed his weight even higher.

"I had a 5 1/2- or 6-pounder at the boat, but it broke my bait in half, taking the hooks and leaving me the line. It was huge," he said. "Then I lost another 5-pounder. I should have had 22 or 23 pounds today."

Mitch Pierson of Newton, N.J., found the third spot for the pros with a limit of smallmouths weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces.Pierson third

Mitch Pierson of Newton, N.J., a top-five finisher at EverStart Lake Champlain in 2002, found the third position for the pros with a limit of smallmouths weighing 17 pounds, 15 ounces.

"I caught those on a tube," he said, then laughed. "Actually, I'm lying. I caught them on a Carolina-rigged lizard, but you can say a tube if you want."

Pro J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., grabbed fifth place with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces.Allard fourth, Kenney fifth

Pro Larry Allard of Ware, Md., grabbed the fourth spot with a limit of smallies weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces.

J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., followed Allard in fifth place with a sizeable limit of his own weighing 17 pounds, 10 ounces. He caught most of his fish on a L'il Hustler spinnerbait, but admitted that he somehow also managed to catch a couple smallmouths using his favorite technique, flipping.

"Today, we quit fishing at 9 o'clock," Kenney said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Ricky Doyle, a local pro from Keeseville, N.Y., placed sixth on day one with a limit weighing 17-9.Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 11 pros after day one at Lake Champlain:

6th: Gerald Beck of Lexington, N.C., five bass, 17-9
6th: Doyle, five bass, 17-9
8th: Larry Evans of South Point, Ohio, five bass, 17-8
8th: Ryan Park of Elizabethtown, Pa., five bass, 17-8
10th: David Barker of Emmitsburg, Md., five bass, 16-15
10th: Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., five bass, 16-15

James Schneider of Menands, N.Y., caught a 5-pound, 2-ounce smallmouth bass to earn the Snicker's Big Bass award in the Pro Division, worth $575.

Dana Perrotte of Winooski, Vt., caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 1 ounce to lead the Co-angler Division.Perrotte leads co-anglers

Dana Perrotte of Winooski, Vt., leads the Co-angler Division after catching a limit weighing 17 pounds, 1 ounce Wednesday.

"I caught 12 fish, all smallmouths," he said. "I caught the big one (a 4-8 kicker) on a Carolina rig."

Richard Gambardella of Branford, Conn., placed second for the co-anglers with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 12 ounces.

Co-angler Sam Wisnewksi of Forked River, N.J., placed third with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces.

Chris Wade of Preston, Conn., grabbed the fourth slot from the back of the boat with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 5 ounces.

With a limit weighing 16 pounds, 4 ounces, Dennis Hill of Vinton, Va., rounded out the top five co-anglers.

Shannon Fletcher of Honaker, Va., earned $215 for catching the Snickers Big Bass in the Co-angler Division. This largemouth - the biggest fish of the day in either division - weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces.Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:

6th: Jon Newman of Anderson, S.C., five bass, 16-3
7th: Steve Glasson of Andover, N.J., five bass, 15-12
8th: John Cook of Horsham, Pa., five bass, 15-9
8th: Ronald Crochetiere of Springfield, Mass., five bass, 15-9
10th: Bobbie Barfield of Spring Grove, Va., five bass, 15-8

Shannon Fletcher of Honaker, Va., earned $215 for catching the Snickers Big Bass in the Co-angler Division. The largemouth - the biggest fish of the day in either division - weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces.

Day two of Northeast Division competition at Lake Champlain begins as the full field takes off from Plattsburgh Boat Basin at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time Thursday for the second half of the opening round. Following tomorrow's action, both fields will be cut to the top 10 anglers apiece based on two-day total weight.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2005-09-14-lake-champlain 

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