UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Get it done early

A sunny start to the final round on Lake Champlain will yield to afternoon thunderstorms.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Children often bear traits of both parents, with one set of genes becoming more prominent. For the top-10 anglers in the FLW American Fishing Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain, day three will look like the offspring of days one and two with a little more of the latter.

After a windy practice, day one brought sunny, calm conditions that allowed anglers to run the lake at will. Day two dawned with heavy clouds that would bring rain and thunderstorms, along with the limitations of a strong southwest wind.

Today, the top-10 pros and co-anglers met with a bright, clear sunrise; but a peppy morning wind will reach as high as 20 knots and the afternoon forecast calls for more thunderstorms. Given this outlook, productivityCo-angler leader Jeff Misaiko talks strategy with top pro Tom Belinda. in the early goings will likely dictate ultimate outcomes.

Yesterday's rough conditions made it tough to hold boats in position, so many anglers struggled to stay on their spots. This limits casting accuracy and the ability to "soak" baits in key locations - a vexation the field will likely experience today.

On the upside, windy conditions stir the water, disorients the baitfish and positions the whole predator-prey thing rather predictably. Add in the inevitable cloud cover and the door opens for spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and other reaction lures.

Probably the biggest decision anglers face today involves time management. Day one saw many boats running south to capitalize on the largemouth food court found in the dense grass beds of the Ticonderoga area. Many opted out of the long, rough run on day two, but those who made the trip caught enough fish to keep this a viable option for the final round.

Working a jig in the grass beds of Ticonderoga will be the dayLeading the pro division with 38-3, Tom Belinda will pin his hopes on the distant southern waters today. He'll be fishing the same jig he used to sack up 20 pounds, 11 ounces on day two and blast his way up from 27th place to first. Making the long run on a day that promises rough water is a calculated risk for the Pennsylvania pro.

"I'm timing everything going down and coming back," Belinda said. "I've got it down pat on how long it takes me depending on how fast I go. If I can go 30-40 mph, it takes me two hours; if I can go 65, it takes me an hour. I'm hoping to have about 4 1/2 hours to fish down there today."

Second place pro Bill Spence fished in his home waters off St. Albans, Vt. yesterday and he'll return there today. He'll fish a bluegill pattern chatterbait with a Berkley Chigger Craw trailer and target largemouth in shallow grass. A blend of milfoil and hydrilla is his preference.

"You can have a mile of the same stuff and then there's one little area where there's a mix of two different kinds of grass and that's where the concentration (of fish) will be," Spence said.

Numerically, Spence matched Belinda's two day productivity with a 38-3 total. However, after day one, tiesSecond place pro Bill Spence will rely on a bluegill pattern chatterbait. are broken by the largest single day weight. Belinda's 20-11 topped Spence's 19-10.

Trailing the lead by less than half a pound, Alabama pro Greg Pugh enters the final round with 37-12 and plenty of steam to close the deal. Pugh led day one with the tournament's heaviest sack - a limit weighing 21-2. He fished Ti for two days and he'll finish his campaign there by throwing jigs and Texas-rigged plastics.

"I know the fish are there and I know they're grouped up," Pugh said. "I'm confident in it and I know I have spots where I can pull another 20- to 25-pound stringer, but like everything else, the fish have to cooperate."

Starting in eight place, New Hampshire pro Joe Lucarelli will use a larger Yamamoto Flappin Hog on a Carolina Rig.Fourth place pro Dave Wolak will stay north today and target largemouths, as he did on day two. Wolak fished Ti on day one, but decided to trade the southern bounty for more fishing time. He said he found good numbers of quality fish on day two, but he'll need to pick up a kicker in the final round.

Starting in eighth place, New Hampshire pro Joe Lucarelli will target smallies by fishing a Carolina Rig baited with a green pumpkin Yamamoto Flappin Hog. Lucarelli, who finished second in last year's event, is using Yamamoto's 4 1/2-inch bait that offers a larger profile - a significant benefit when cloud cover and waves decrease visibility.

Notably, the top 10 pros are grouped rather tightly, with just 2 pounds, 12 ounces separating tenth place Matt Greenblatt from the top spot. Considering Lake Champlain's reputation for cranking out quality fish - largemouth and smallmouth - one big bite could make a huge difference in the final standings.


Logistics

Anglers will weigh-in at 2 p.m. at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin located at 5 Dock St. in Plattsburgh, N.Y.Starting the day just 2 pounds, 12 ounces off the lead, 10th place pro Matt Greenblatt sits well within striking distance. Weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $25,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with 200-horsepower outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award of $10,000. If the co-angler meets the Ranger Cup guidelines, they will earn an additional $5,000.

The Lake Champlain American Fishing Series tournament is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau.

With a white chatterbait as his main presentation, fifth place co-angler John Woodroof hopes to find another big bass like the 5-11 he caught on day one. Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 5:24 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 67 degrees
Expected high temperature: 85 degrees
Water temperature: 74 degrees
Wind: SSW 10-20 mph
Humidity: 65 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny early, scattered afternoon thunderstorms

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2010-07-15-lake-champlain 

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