UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Kentucky / Barkley Lake

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Ober regains Champlain lead with second 20-pound sack

Ober regains Champlain lead with second 20-pound sack
Sticking to his main spot and waiting for the bites put Pennsylvania pro Jason Ober back in the lead.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Jason Ober needed a sign that he was still on track to potentially capture his second Lake Champlain victory and a second 20-pound limit provided just such an omen as he leads the top-5 pros into the final round of competition at the FLW Series Eastern Division event.

Ober, who won the 2008 American Fishing Series event on Lake Champlain, tied David Wolak for the day one lead when both anglers caught 21-2. He moved down to second place on day two when his productivity slipped to 17-7. Today, Ober got his groove back with a limit weighing 20-4. The Johnstown, Penn. pro now leads the pack with 58-13 and a comfortable margin of 3 pounds, 8 ounces.

Spending most of his time on a broad grass flat on the west side of the Champlain Islands at the lake'sPro leader Jason Ober explains his tactics during a post weigh-in interview. north end, Ober has relied solely on a dropshot with an Attraxx cut tail worm. Working in 13-16 feet, he has obviously found a formula that's working, as long as his luck doesn't expire.

"I think I've caught every fish this week on one rod," he said. "The only problem is that I'm not getting bit a lot, so I have a chance to zero tomorrow. I've caught 15 bass on this spot in the past three days, of which 13 have come to the scales.

"I'm not getting bit very much; I just keep going in circles. Right about the time I'm about ready to give up on it (a fish bites)."

Repeating his day two strategy, Ober pulled off of his spot around one o'clock to save the remaining potential for the final round. He's hoping his timing has been prudent, but he's concerned that he may have left too much on the day two table.

Gaining one more spot to second place, Shinichi Fukae was hampered by wind early in his fishing day."Today, I caught my last good one and made the decision to leave," he said. "Yesterday may cost me. I may have left prematurely."

Ober said he hopes the final round sees the clear, sunny skies he fished under today. The sunshine, he said, stimulates the smallies and increases their strike zone.

Fukae improves to second

Shin Fukae of Palestine, Texas continued his upward climb by gaining one spot to second on the strength of his 17-pound, 13-ounce bag of plump smallmouth. Fukae weighed identical bags of 18-12 on the first two days and he enters the final round with 55-5.

The 2004 FLW Angler of the Year returned to the same area he fished a day before and again fished a green pumpkin Gary Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm on a dropshot in about 35 feet. Fukae said his day was slow to start and he had to fight the anxiety of coming up empty with an audience.

"I fished the same way I did yesterday, but I didn't get any bites this morning - with a TV crewThird place pro Anthony Gagliardi said he watching!" he said. "I was sweating."

Fukae said the day's early conditions created a challenge he overcame with patience and persistence. "I got wind this morning, so I couldn't stay in the same spot. I fished another area to catch a limit and then the wind came down and I went back to my first spot and caught my bigger fish."

Gagliardi drops back to third

Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. turned in big limits of 19-12 and 19-15 the first two days, but today he weighed 15-9 and dropped from first to third with 55-4. Oddly enough, Gagliardi attributes his day three dip to having a good spot. As he explained, his key area sees periodic bites as groups of fish come and go. He caught good fish there on days one and two, but day three brought a dilemma - a stalled spot that's still too good to surrender.

"I probably caught half the fish I caught (on day two)," he said. "I've had people around me on my primary spot every day and I've been afraid to leave. I knew the fish were there and I was afraid to leave because I knew the guys were going to come in there on top of it and the fish might turn on.

A solid limit of largemouth kept David Wolak in fourth place."Under normal circumstances, I would have never stayed on a spot that long if I wasn't getting bites. Tomorrow, if it's slow, I'll probably move around three or four times as much as I did today, and I'll keep coming back to my main spot to see if they've turned on yet."

Gagliardi caught his fish by dragging tubes and other soft plastics along the bottom. Most of his action came in 10-13 feet of water. He also caught one of his keepers on a crankbait.

Wolak changes tactics, remains in fourth

David Wolak of Wake Forest, N.C., caught a limit of largemouth weighing 16-8 and held on to his fourth place spot with a three day total of 53-12. After relying mainly on a homemade chatterbait he created by adding a blade to an Arkie Jig, Wolak switched gears and went with a 1/2-ounce Title Shot jig with a Yum Craw Pappy trailer.

"We had bright sun from the get-go and high pressure, so I felt the flipping bite would be more productive," Wolak said. "I was flipping grass lines in about six feet. I wasn't really up in grass mats; I'dFlipping shallow for largemouths produced an 18-pound sack that moved Andy Montgomery into fifth place. just find a place where the grass makes a tighter line and flip along the line."

Wolak tied with Ober for the day one lead, but he's found Champlain to be far less generous over the past two days. "It was tough - it was a grind. A 4-pounder was hard to come by the last two days. I'm running new water every day and that's good because I'm sort of running out of fish. But this place does replenish and you never know what tomorrow brings. You catch a couple of fives and it puts you right in there."

Montgomery makes big move to fifth

Blacksburg, S.C. pro Andy Montgomery gained a lot of ground on day three and secured a final round Sheron Brown finished 34th, but he had one of the dayberth by catching five green fish that weighed 18-7. His three day total of 53-6 moved him up six spots from 11th to fifth.

Fishing north and south of the launch site, he flipped a 1/2-ounce Shooter Lure jig with a Zoom Big Salty Chunk trailer and a ¾-ounce Strike King Hack Attack jig around milfoil and hydrilla in about four feet of water. Although he began the tournament with the brown fish, he' had to redirect his focus.

"I fished for smallmouth, but I haven't been able to get them the last two days," he said. "I caught 19Tennessee pro David Walker fooled a whopper smallmouth with a dropshot. pounds of them the first day, but since then I haven't been able to do it.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the FLW Series Lake Champlain event:

6th: Michael Wolfenden of Warwick, R.I., 52-14
7th: Jim Gildea of Weston, Mass., 51-12
8th: Jason Knapp of Uniontown, Penn., 51-1
9th: Scott Parker or Londonderry, N.H., 50-11
10th: Lancen Halbert of Enoree, S.C., 50-7

Day four of FLW Series action on Lake Champlain continues at Saturday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. (PT) at Dock Street Landing located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh.

Tags: headline-story  2010-08-25-lake-champlain 

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