UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

Wessels claims Friday bragging rights at Champlain

Wessels claims Friday bragging rights at Champlain
Pro Aaron Wessels of Watervliet, N.Y., caught a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 10 ounces to lead day three of the Stren Series Northeast Division event on Lake Champlain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - The temperature may have dropped dramatically for Friday's action at the Stren Series Northeast Division tournament, but the fishing stayed hot as only it can at Lake Champlain. Aaron Wessels, a pro out of Watervliet, N.Y., led the charge with a five-bass limit of largemouths weighing 16 pounds, 10 ounces.

Coming in just behind Wessels was Erie, Pennsylvania's Dave Lefebre, who amassed a 16-pound, 7-ounce limit of smallmouths for second place. Lefebre, who is gunning for his second consecutive Northeast Division win (he won at the Potomac River last month), also unofficially sealed up the 2006 Northeast Division pro standings title.

Down to Ti for largemouths

While a stiff south wind made the running and fishing tough Wednesday and forced the cancellation of competition Thursday, the breeze switched course Friday, coming from a more westerly direction. That allowed the seven or eight boats heading down towards the Ticonderoga, N.Y., area in search of largemouths, including Wessels', to travel relatively unmolested.

"It made the run a whole lot easier. It took me about and hour and 20 minutes to get down there, and about the same to get back," Wessels said. "With the wind out of the west today, it was a blessing. As long as you stayed tight to shore on the western side, it was no problem."

Once ensconced on the southern end of the lake, Wessels bundled up against temperatures that were some 20 degrees colder than the previous day and started throwing a spinnerbait among the shallow grass. The first three fish he caught - good ones - broke off and he had to respool some reels before he started catching them. After that, Wessels said he caught roughly 30 fish, some on a spinnerbait and the rest on a worm.

"The cold didn't really affect the fishing at all," Wessels said. "I'm fishing a shallow location close to a channel break, and the baitfish moved up there about four or five days ago. I broke off some real quality fish today, but I think they're going to keep moving up with the bait for the next couple of weeks before it gets really cold."

For tomorrow's finals, Wessels expects to see the winning weight to come in at around 34 or 35 pounds for a two-day tally.

"I expect to catch a good sack tomorrow," he said. "And I believe we're going to see a better smallmouth bite, too."

Erie, Pennsylvania's Dave Lefebre amassed a 16-pound, 7-ounce limit of smallmouths for second place.`Open-minded' Lefebre just goes fishing

Not only did Lefebre clinch the points race and position himself for his second win in a row, he did it on his 36th birthday - though he almost didn't even know about that little detail himself.

"I completely forgot about it until we got in and I had a voicemail from my wife and son wishing me a happy birthday," he laughed.

Lefebre clinched the points race - still unofficially until the conclusion of the tournament - by making the final top 10. He had 10-point lead over Kevin Bishop of Hilton, N.Y., coming into the event. While they both made it into the final cut Friday, it is now mathematically impossible for Bishop to make up the points on Lefebre.

"That's awesome," said Lefebre, who also vied for the Midwest (then Northern) Division points title in 2002 but finished second. "Especially now, after my worst year ever on the FLW Tour, I needed a boost."

Lefebre caught all smallmouths Friday throwing a 9/16-ounce Mizmo jig in shallow water flats, focusing on little depressions where the smallies would congregate. While he spent much of his practice time on the south end of the lake fishing for largemouths, motor trouble early in the week demanded that he stay closer to home. He says that actually helped him catch fish the last couple days.

"It was really refreshing to go out there with an open mind and just fish. It was like I used to fish when I was younger," he said. "I was just fishing for all those brown largemouths, really shallow, catching them right under the boat. It was pretty cool. I found some pretty good stuff today."

Pete Gluszek of Franklinville, N.J., grabbed third place in the Pro Division with a mixed-bag limit weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces.Gluszek third

Pete Gluszek of Franklinville, N.J., grabbed third place in the Pro Division with a mixed-bag limit weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces.

"Today was much slower, but I had much more quality bites," said Gluszek, who said he used a spinnerbait-and-jig approach Friday. "I fished for largemouths first then scrambled for smallmouths. I just kind of mixed it up and let the day dictate to me what would happen."

Kevin Bishop of Hilton, N.Y., placed fourth Friday for the pros with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces.Bishop fourth

While he fell out of points contention, Bishop kept himself in contention for his first Stren Series win by placing fourth Friday with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 10 ounces.

Bishop also went south and brought in a limit of largemouths.

"What's really important about this place is that there are so many different styles to catch fish here," he said. "You've just got to go out and try to figure out your own way to catch them."

Gregg Seal of Eldred, Pa., rounded out the top five pros with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces.Seal fifth

Gregg Seal of Eldred, Pa., rounded out the top five pros with a limit weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces.

He echoed Bishop, saying: "What I enjoy about Lake Champlain is that you can do anything you want to do on this lake. The weather actually played right into my hands. I fish Lake Erie a lot, so with this wind and big water I feel comfortable."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros fishing in Saturday's finals at Lake Champlain:

6th: Jacob Powroznik of Prince George, Va., 15-6
7th: Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., 15-5
8th: David Reault of Livonia, Mich., 14-13
9th: Charlie Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, 14-11
10th: Kevin Kartesz of Jamestown, N.Y., 14-9

Each of the top 10 finalists caught a five-bass limit Friday.

Fred Hunter of Canton, Ohio, leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces.Hunter again leads co-anglers

Opening-round Co-angler Division leader Fred Hunter of Canton, Ohio, held onto the top spot again Friday by weighing in a limit of smallmouths worth 16 pounds, 6 ounces. His sack was actually the third-heaviest of day, pro or co-angler.

"I'm not doing anything different," he said. "I'm just going out and having fun."

Andy Coffman of Campbell, Texas, placed second for the co-anglers with a limit weighing 14 pounds, 7 ounces.

Third place for the co-anglers went to Tim George of Kittanning, Pa., for a limit weighing 14 pounds, 4 ounces.

Co-angler Scott Leppanen of Byfield, Mass., earned fourth place with a limit weighing 14 pounds, 4 ounces.

Rounding out the top five co-anglers was John Shultz of Trucksville, Pa., with a limit weighing 13 pounds, 13 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:

6th: Joshua Wagy of Dewitt, Va., 12-11
7th: John Pellegrino of Smithtown, N.Y., 12-11
8th: Terry Bixler of Turbotville, Pa., 12-10
9th: John Alber of Montpellier, Vt., 12-4
10th: Tom Luciano of Pottersville, N.Y., 12-3

Each of the top 10 co-anglers also caught limits Friday

Final round Saturday

Day four of Northeast Division competition at Lake Champlain begins as the final-round field of 10 boats takes off from Plattsburgh Boat Basin at 7 a.m. Eastern time Saturday. Friday's weights carry over to Saturday, and each division's winner will be determined by two-day combined weight.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2006-09-27-lake-champlain 

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