UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Gassed for Champlain

Gassed for Champlain
Lake Champlain rolls out the red carpet - and some unseasonably warm September sunshine - for the final EverStart Northeast Division event of the year.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - The biggest question facing many EverStart Series anglers as they begin the Northeast Division season finale is whether they should make the long run south to fish for Lake Champlain's big largemouth bass.

Practically everyone with a pulse will be catching limits this week on bountiful Lake Champlain, which is one of the nation's premier bass fisheries. The key to making the cut here - probably more so than at most tournament venues - is the ability to find big fish. Supporting healthy populations of both smallmouth and largemouth bass, anglers really have to make a choice about how they approach their fishing at Champlain.

"I have seven smallmouth areas and seven largemouth areas," pro Dave Lefebre said Wednesday morning. "What's the weather going to be like today?"

If recent tournaments are any indication, most anglers know that the leading stringers could come from the southern end of the lake, near the town of Ticonderoga, where the big largemouths are. Last year, Craig Workman won this EverStart event on a largemouth pattern, and Scott Martin also made the long run down to "Ti" to win the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event here.

The big problem, however, is that it's a 70-mile run one way just to get down there from the takeoff point at Plattsburgh. And there are two huge issues that anglers must deal with when faced with a run like that.

One, as Lefebre mentioned, is the weather. If a 15- to 20-mph north or south wind picks up in the Champlain Valley and kicks up a good chop on the lake, no amount of money is worth the beatings the body and boat take making that nasty run.

The second and possibly most irritating issue is the price of fuel. In Plattsburgh, gas is going for over $3 a gallon. Boats running down to Ticonderoga will have to refuel on the lake, where some are saying that gas is going for around $4.50 a gallon. Competitors must decide whether it's worth the trip - even if they cash a check - since a good portion of that money will be sunk into gas.

Some 168 boats made the long trek to fish the final Northeast Division event of the season at bountiful Lake Champlain.And it's not just here. The price of gas has been hitting tournament fishermen everywhere hard this summer, as evidenced by somewhat lower turnout numbers in the tournament fields. It is a testament to the draw of Lake Champlain, however, that so many anglers made the long trek up here to fish the last Northeast Division event of the year. The field is set at 168 boats.

So don't be surprised if some big bags of smallmouths take over the top 10. Another hit against the largemouth pattern is the lake level, which is about 2 feet lower than normal. A lot of shallow cover that anglers have fished for largemouths before is now high and dry, so going deeper for brown bass might be the easier route.

Standings champs to be decided

The standings champions of the Northeast Division, in its inaugural season, will be decided this week at Champlain. After three events, Aaron Hastings of Middletown, Md., leads the Pro Division with 574 points. His closest challenger is Pete Gluszek of Franklinville, N.J., with 545 points.

Alan Hench of Lititz, Pa., leads the Co-angler Division with 554 points, but Ryan Bowman of Seneca, S.C., is right on his tail with 553. Two others are also bunched up right behind them within seven points.

Logistics

One hundred sixty-eight pros and 168 co-anglers will compete for two days to determine the top 10 pros and top 10 co-anglers who advance to the final round based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for the final round, and anglers compete for two more days to determine the winner. Winners are determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.

The winning pro earns an Evinrude- or Yamaha-powered Ranger 519VX equipped with Garmin electronics, a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries plus just under $10,000 cash. If the winner is the original owner of a Ranger boat that is used during the tournament, the winner also receives a $10,000 bonus from Ranger for a top pro award of $60,000. If the winning pro is a Ranger Cup participant, Ranger will award another $3,000 cash (or $1,500 to the highest-finishing Ranger Cup participant if not the winner), and Yamaha will match 50 percent of Ranger Cup winnings if the angler's boat is powered by a Yamaha outboard. Garmin will award the winning pro $1,000 if he uses only Garmin electronics and at least one unit is a qualifying unit, thus boosting potential winnings for the top pro to $65,500.

The Saranac River empties into Lake ChamplainThe winning co-angler receives just under $5,000 cash, and if the winner is a Ranger boat owner, Ranger will award a new Ranger 519VX for a total prize package worth $35,000. Co-anglers who make the final round of each regular-season EverStart Series event and wear an EverStart/Evinrude shirt and cap on stage are also awarded points toward the EverStart Batteries and Evinrude Outboard Engines Co-angler Award. The co-angler receiving the most points by the end of the season receives an Evinrude 225HO Direct Injection outboard engine rigged on a Ranger boat equipped with a Minn Kota trolling motor and EverStart batteries.

Anglers take off from Plattsburgh Boat Basin at 6:30 Eastern time each morning. Wednesday and Thursday's weigh-ins will be held at the marina, which is located at 1 Dock St. in Plattsburgh, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday's weigh-ins will be held at the Wal-Mart store located at 25 Consumer Square in Plattsburgh beginning at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Wednesday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:31 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 65 degrees
Expected high temperature: 88 degrees
Water temperature: 67-71 degrees
Wind: SSE at 12 mph
Maximum humidity: 53 percent
Day's outlook: plentiful sunshine

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

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