UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Coin toss

Coin toss
The morning sun filters through partly cloudy skies at the start of the Stren Northern Division tournament.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - To run or not to run? That is the question facing Stren Series anglers at the start of the Northern Division event on Lake Champlain.

At takeoff, most boats headed south, and it's likely that that the majority made the 60-mile jaunt to Ticonderoga at Champlain's skinny lower end. Fertile grass beds are more abundant in the south end, plus the southern fish are sufficiently removed from their spawn, so they've settled into traditional summer patterns.

At the opposite end of the lake, many bass are still in postspawn mode, so these fish will be more finicky. Running south is a pretty sure bet for, at least, the opportunity of more predictable fishing, but Charles Sim gets a good-luck kiss from his wife Eimer before heading into action.the time-consuming journey will automatically shave more than two hours of fishing time from an angler's schedule. On the flipside, staying close to port only guarantees a lower gas bill, as chasing broadly dispersed fish can also burn up the clock.

Charlie Hartley of Columbus, Ohio, said he'll stay north and throw the same green-pumpkin tube that has served him well in past years. Snipping open all of his bait's tentacles ensures optimal action, while lubricating the bait with Berkley Power Bait scent bears psychological and practical benefits.

"I think it matters to us (fishermen) more than it matters to the fish," Hartley said. "A smallmouth bass is a very aggressive creature. If he's going to bite something, he doesn't run up to it and, at the last second, say: `That didn't smell just right.'

Charlie Hartley of Columbus, Ohio adds Berkley scent enhancer to the tube jigs he"The (scent formula) is also a lubricant that helps get the jig head up into the tube. Also, anything that doesn't smell like a human is probably better than smelling like a human."

Hartley will fish spots in 12 to 15 feet of water and look for rocks surrounded by weeds. "They like the grass to hide in, but they feed on the rocks."

Rob Johnson will also stick around the north end, mostly the Vermont side, and target largemouths. Although the south end's grass habitat normally yields the best largemouth action, Johnson will target green bass in the upper region.

Admittedly short on Champlain experience, the School Haven, Pa., angler said he found a good greenPro Rob Johnson hopes his crankbait will appeal to north lake largemouths, while co-angler Joe Hughes will stick with his jig. bass pattern that fits his preferred style of fishing. He'll throw mostly crankbaits, while his co-angler, Joe Hughes, pins his hopes on a jig.

Favoring a drop-shot with a 3-inch blue Senko, pro Randy Yarnall modifies his rig to eliminate a common vexation. Rigging with 6-pound monofilament, he fastens his main line to a tiny swivel he got from a fly-fishing shop and ties a piece of 6-pound mono to the swivel's opposite side. Here, he creates a drop-shot that can do what drop-shots do without creating the frustrations that drop-shots create.

"With drop-shotting, your line wants to twist up because your lure is constantly spinning," Yarnall said. "Adding the swivel gives you a whole day of fishing without worrying about (line twist) on a spinning reel. The swivel passes through the (rod's) eyelets, so I can cast this rig. It might be a little hard on the eyelets, but they're replaceable."

Yarnall said he'd prefer lighter line, but Champlain's smallmouth bullies would take advantage of the drop in fighting power. "I'd love to go to 4-pound-test, but that's just too hard with all the weeds around here and these big smallmouth."

Rigging his dropshot with a swivel allows Randy Yarnall to fish without fighting line twists.Yarnall said he would also prefer a little more blow in the forecast, as rougher conditions generally guide fish into predictable spots.

"When you're poking and hoping in the weeds, it's tough," Yarnall said. "The bass are moving around, following the perch right now. They don't have to be located in any one position, so they can be picky - and trust me, they will be.

"Wind on this lake does help locate the fish, so you're not running around covering a lot of water. Basically, that's what you're doing now - looking for scattered fish."

For those who make the run to Ticonderoga, afternoon thunderstorms may produce challenging conditions, so time management will be a critical element.

Tournament logistics

The Stren Series event, which runs July 16-19, kicks off the Northern Division's schedule of four regularPro Ben Felton picks up his co-angler at the start of day one.-season tournaments. The total purse for the Lake Champlain event is $275,225. The winning pro could earn as much as $65,000 in cash and prizes if various contingencies are met, and the winning co-angler could earn as much as $35,000.

Action continues at today's weigh-in, scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. EDT at Dock Street Landing, located at 5 Dock Street, Plattsburgh N.Y.

Wednesday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:24 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 70 degrees
Expected high temperature: 82 degrees
Water temperature: 69-70 degrees
Wind: SSW at 7-10 mph
Humidity: 45 percent
Day's outlook: partly cloudy, scattered afternoon thunderstorms

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2008-07-16-lake-champlain 

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