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Ober hopes to get over in FLW Series

Ober hopes to get over in FLW Series
Morning clouds receded over Lake Champlain as anglers prepare for day three.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - He's been on the roller coaster before, and this morning Pennsylvania pro Jason Ober was liking the conditions he found at the day-three takeoff for the FLW Series Eastern Division event on Lake Champlain.

In August 2008, Ober won the FLW American Fishing Series (formerly Stren Series) Northern Division event on Champlain after an up-and-down ride. He started in fourth place, took over the lead on day two, dropped to second on the third day and then took it home in the final round. Ober's shot at notching another Champlain win sits well within his reach - thanks largely to improving meteorological conditions.

After a dreary, overcast day one and a partly cloudy and windy day two, the tournament's third morning dawned several degrees cooler than the fist two. With cloud cover peeling back to eachGeorgia pro Glenn Chappelear cleans his sunglasses before heading into a bright day three. horizon and a light breeze rustling flags at Dock Street Landing, anglers went through boat check bundled a little heavier than the previous two mornings. Clearly, the stage is set for widespread opportunity on Lake Champlain.

"It's gonna get right," Ober said. "No excuses after today - either they're there and they bite, or they're not there and they don't bite. I could catch 10 pounds and put my tail between my legs and go home, or I could catch 20 pounds. Weather will not be a factor today.

"It's sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. A front just rolled through, and we just watched the clouds roll back to the east. Back to the west everything is looking pretty good."

In a lake blessed with good numbers of hefty smallmouth and largemouth bass, sunny days have dual effects. Champlain's largemouths generally tighten up to their cover, whereas smallmouth tend to roam more. Ober's targeting the brownies, so he's psyched about his chances today.

"I think the sunshine lets them see better and it increases their strike zone - you don't have to land on top of their head," he said. "In sunny conditions, they'll come 6 to 8 feet to get it, whereas their strike zone in cloudy conditions is their body length."

Third place pro Shinichi Fukae will dropshot a Yamamota Shad Shape Worm.Ober is drop-shotting the new Attrax cut-tail worm, and he's so confident in the tactics he used to win in 2008 that he's not even considering his personal favorite Champlain tactic - topwater. When a motivated smallmouth runs topside to blast a surface plug, the entertainment value alone is worth the trip. Today, however, Ober will keep his focus on the down baits.

"This is the first time I've launched without a Zara Spook on my deck," he said.

To climb the mountain a second time, Ober must overtake South Carolina pro Anthony Gagliardi - a seasoned pro who's no stranger to the big stage. Gagliardi, the 2006 FLW Angler of the Year, brings an impressive resume and a Cool Hand Luke demeanor that keeps him grounded during the pressure cookers.

Gagliardi placed fourth on day one with 19-12 and took over the top spot a day later when he added 19-15 for a 31-11 total and a 1-pound, 2-ounce lead. He's fishing a grass flat in 10 to 13 feet in Champlain's north end. A mix of yellow perch, shad and shiners has made the spot attractive to smallies and largemouths, as well as competitors.

"I have some other areas that have fish on them that I can go to, and one of the reasons I haven't moved around that much is because there are too many people around me that have seen me catch these fish, and if I leave, they're coming in there," he said. "I just figured if somebody is going to sit on them, it's going to be me.

Shinichi Fukae of Palestine, Texas, trails Ober by a little more than a pound, but his amazingWith cooler morning temperatures befalling Lake Champlain, anglers bundled a little tighter on day three. consistency - 18-12 on days one and two - makes him one to watch. Drop-shotting a Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm in 20 to 40 feet, the 2004 AOY sacked up a quintet of fat brown beasts on day two. Another bag like that and he's a lock for tomorrow's finale. If Shin finds one of those Champlain footballs, he could make a serious run at the title.

In fourth place with 37-4, Dave Wolak of Wake Forest, N.C., tied with Ober for the day-one lead. He fished an early flight on day two and had to pack it in just as he was getting into an afternoon bite. With more time to work today, he's likely to do well on the largemouths he's targeting with a homemade ChatterBait-style lure.

Lurking not so far back in fifth place is Missouri pro Dion Hibdon - the 2000 Forrest Wood Cup champ, who brings profound jig-flipping skills to Champlain. Hibdon said he had to hit upwards of 50 spots on day two to find his 17-pound, 12-ounce limit, but today's sunny skies should better position his green fish for more precise presentations.

Former FLW National Guard College Fishing competitor Chris Kinney-Hermes has led the Co-angler Division since day one. The Champlain, N.Y., competitor starts today with 34-4 and nearly a 2-pound lead over second-place co-angler Christopher Hall of Clarks Summit, Pa.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Dock Street Landing located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh at 6:30 each Anglers pause for the national anthem before day three takeoff.morning. All weigh-ins will also be held at the marina. Friday's weigh-ins will begin at 2:30 p.m., and Saturday's final weigh-in will begin at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to a Family Fun Zone at the marina prior to Saturday's weigh-in from noon to 4 p.m. There will be a drawing for a $300 Cabela's gift card, and drawings for rod and reel combos will be held every 30 minutes during the event. Activities in the Family Fun Zone include a boat simulator and National Guard obstacle challenge. All activities are free and open to the public.

On Sunday, Aug. 29, the Plattsburgh Bass Club will host the Lake Champlain Open at Dock Street Landing in an event that will support the USO. The National Guard Family Fun Zone will be open from noon to 4 p.m.

The entire field competes for the first three days of FLW Series events. Co-angler winners are determined on day three based on the heaviest accumulated three-day weight. The top 10 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

Friday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:10 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 53 degrees
Expected high temperature: 71 degrees
Water temperature: 69
Wind: WNW at 8 mph
Max. hmidity: 70 percent
Day's outlook: snny

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2010-08-25-lake-champlain 

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