UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Champlain

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Rise and shine

Rise and shine
Pro leader Jason Ober knows he has to deliver today in order to stay ahead of the competition.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Normally, Jason Ober would enjoy seeing Shinichi Fukae, Anthony Gagliardi, David Wolak and Andy Montgomery. Top-notch pros, good conversation; these guys make for great company - just not at the final takeoff for the FLW Series Eastern Division event on Lake Champlain.

Positioned at the north end of Dock Street Landing, a glimmering sunrise peaking over his left shoulder, Ober glanced southward along the floating dock and took in the largeness of his current position ahead of this highly accomplished and seriously dangerous quartet. With a three day total of 58-13, the Pennsylvania pro leads the final round field by a margin of 3 pounds, 8 ounces, but if ever such a margin offered little security, today is that day.

"I'd rather have a 3 1/2-pound deficit instead of a 3 1/2-pound lead right now because I'm looking down aJason Ober heads out for his final effort on Lake Champlain. string of guys that I'm absolutely honored to be able to go fish against," Ober said. "They're some of the best sticks that ever walked on the earth."

Of course this takes nothing away from Ober's own qualifications. He's always a threat in this part of the country and 2008 saw him win the American Fishing Series Northern Division event on Champlain. He knows his stuff and, most importantly, he knows the reality of his situation - make no assumptions, just go to work.

"I'm going to go try to catch a limit first," Ober said. "I don't know how long my nerves are going to let me handle that deal but I'm going to tool around a little bit first and try to catch a couple of security fish and after that, I'll just go pick them apart and grind it out. If they bite today, I'll catch them; if they don't, they don't."

Ober has been catching all smallmouth by dropshotting an Attraxx cut tail worm in 13-16 feet over a grass flat west of the Champlain islands. Bites have been few, but the quality is there, so he'll keep the bait wet and do his best to find the hungry ones. Today's sunny conditions will help stimulate the smallies by the increasing their visibility.

After bagging a first place limit of 21-2 on day one, Ober added 17-7 on day two and then broke the double decade mark again on day three with 20-4. He said five more big ones are still swimming.

Starting the day in second place, Shinich Fukae will dropshot a Yamamoto Shad Shape worm in about 30 feet."I don't think there are giants, but I think there's another 20-pound sack (on my spot)," he said.

Hailing from Palestine, Texas, Fukae has fished the most consistently with weights of 18-12 on days one and two and 17-13 on day three. Starting today with 55-5, the 2004 FLW Angler of the Year will stick to what got him to the finale - dropshotting a Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm in 30 feet.

Fukae said he's concerned about today's forecast. "I'm worried about the wind. We will have 9 mph from the southwest. Five mph is ok, but more than that will make it hard to fish my spot. I might have to fish other spots when the wind picks up."

Gagliardi, the 2006 FLW AOY rose from fourth to first on day two, but he slipped back to third on day three with 55-4 after crowds forced him to limit his mobility. Working a broad grass flat in the lake's north end, Gagliardi has one key spot that sporadically produces quality catches whenever active fish move across a specific zone. He wanted to explore other locations throughout the flat, but with competing boats breathing down his neck, he didn't dare leave his money spot unguarded. Today, he's eager to expand his search.

In fourth place with 53-12, Dave Wolak of Wake Forest, N.C. tied Ober for first on day one, but hasThird place pro Anthony Gagliardi said he struggled to assemble a competitive limit each day. In his first two outings, Wolak caught his fish on a homemade chatterbait, but the scene went sour on day three when a bright green algae bloom overtook the area he was targeting. Wolak had to shift gears and flip a 1/2-ounce Title Shot jig with a Yum Craw Pappy trailer. He'll stick with this presentation today.

Despite starting the day in fifth place, Montgomery expressed a high level of optimism prior to takeoff. He sacked up 19 pounds, 5 ounces of Champlain brownies on day one, but when the smallies played hard-to-get on days two and three, Montgomery went back to his flipping strength and grabbed solid limits of green fish the next two days.

Today, Montgomery will flip grass beds early and then move to docks during the midday hours. He's hoping that the potential for bigger fish like the 6-pound, 9-ounce beauty his co-angler caught on day three, plus a greater level of dependability will make largemouth his ticket to success.

"I'm going fishing for largemouth and I feel really good about it," Montgomery said. "I have a spot that no one has hit yet and there are some really big fish in that area. If I can go out and catch 21 to 22 pounds and maybe Jason will stumble and a couple of the other guys will have just okay days; then, maybe I can make a run at it.

After faring well with a homemade chatterbait on days one and two, third place pro David Wolak switched to flipping a jig on day three."The first day, I caught 19 pounds of smallmouth, but then they moved and I never relocated them. I spent four to five hours a day looking for them and then hit the panic button and went to catch some largemouth. Today, the only way I can go is up, so I'm going to go for broke and fish for largemouth all day."

Montgomery will flip a trio of jigs. He'll use a 5/8-ounce Shooter Lures jig with a watermelon candy Zoom Speed Craw trailer in scattered milfoil, a ¾-ounce Strike King Hack Attack jig with a Strike King Rage Tail trailer in clumpy hydrilla and a 1/2-ounce Shooter jig with a green pumpkin Zoom Big Salty Chunk for docks.

Logistics

Saturday's final weigh-in will begin at 4 p.m. at Dock Street Landing located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh.

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 StreetFifth place pro Andy Montgomery feels confident that he can make a big move today by flipping jigs for largemouth bass. 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. The top 5 professionals continue competition on day four, and the winner is determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

Saturday's conditions:

Sunrise: 6:11 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 58 degrees
Expected high temperature: 71 degrees
Water temperature: 69
Wind: from SW at 5-10 mph
Max. Humidity: 70 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

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

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