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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Shin wins FLW Series Eastern

Fishing deep with a dropshot was the key for tournament winner Shinichi Fukae.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - In a tournament that saw four of five finalists experiencing significant ups and downs, Japanese superstar Shinichi Fukae topped the FLW Series Eastern Division event on Lake Champlain by assembling a streak of consistency hotter than Godzilla's atomic breath.

Bags were big on day one, so Fukae's 18-12 earned him only a 12th-place spot. Productivity started sliding on day two as a mild cold front brought the usual wind machine, but Fukae matched his own day-one score to the ounce and shot to third place. He secured his final-round berth on day three with a limit of 17-13 and sealed the deal a day later with 18-7 and a grand total of 73 pounds, 12 ounces. Do the math and that series of four weights never fluctuated by more than 15 ounces.

Originally from Osaka, Japan, and making his home in Palestine, Texas, Fukae caught all of his fish in theWindy conditions created problems for Shinichi Fukae but he persisted and bagged the day Inland Sea, where he was drop-shotting a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Shad Shape Worm in a range of 30 to 40 feet, with 35 his most common depth. All's well that ends well, but day four didn't start off well for Fukae - or his passenger.

"I had problems this morning," he recalled. "I didn't get any bites this morning. I took a wave and lost two fishing poles, and I almost broke the camera guy."

Eventually, Fukae reached the right spot and bites came quickly. Typical of his penchant for preparation and acute attention to detail, the top pro had marked 908 waypoints for the FLW Series event. He ended up using about 15 of them.

Fukae said his victory was especially memorable in that it was his first top finish since winning the FLW Shinichi Fukae reacts to the news of his victory.Angler of the Year title in 2004. And how's this for serendipity? He locked up the AOY six years ago on Champlain's shimmering waters.

For the win this week, Fukae earned nearly $50,000 cash plus a $6,000 Ranger Cup bonus and $1,000 in Cabela's Angler Cash.

Finally alone, Gagliardi improves to second

Finishing just 5 ounces off the lead was second-place Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C. Gagliardi caught 18-3 on day four and ended with 73-7 and nearly $20,000.

With the final-round field greatly reducing the amount of competition, Gagliardi could finally spend all of his time fishing rather than guarding his primary spot. Keying on a grass flat of a couple hundred square yards, Gagliardi quickly dialed in a sweet spot that delivered 19-12 and 19-15 the first two days. He only weighed 15-9 on day three, but he knew the spot would replenish and he'd be fine - if he could fish without the constant companionship of other competitors looking for the chance to ease into the area.

"Most of my fish that I weighed this week came off one spot," Gagliardi said. "My biggest fish, the 4-pounder, came off another place I hadn't fished before. But I knew going into today, if I did win the tournament, I'd win it off that one spot.

"The first three days, I had to guard against someone else coming in there, so I had to stay on that spotFinally able to explore his area, Anthony Gagliardi improved from third to second. a lot longer than I normally would have, because I knew if I left that someone would come in there. That changed the way I fished the spot - I couldn't move around on it the way I wanted to. I couldn't let it rest for 20 minutes and then come back. That's usually how you end up catching a big fish.

"Today, I could leave it and come back to it, and I caught a couple of fish by doing that. I think I made the right decisions this week and gave myself every opportunity to win it."

Gagliardi caught most of his fish by slow-dragging tubes and other soft plastics across the bottom. He caught a few, including his largest fish of day four, by burning a crankbait along the edges of the flat.

Wind spoils dream for third-place Ober

He had a good ride, but unfortunately, the roller coaster ended with a sharp drop for Jason Ober, who finished third with 70-10 and almost $15,000. The Johnstown, Pa., pro led the tournament on day one with 21-2, slipped to second on day two after a 17-7 bag and then reclaimed the top spot on day three by sacking up another 20-pound-plus bag (20-4).

After leading the event twice, Jason Ober found his spot blown out by wind on day four.Despite the 3 1/2-pound lead he carried into day four, Ober knew he couldn't assume anything. A grass flat in 13 to 16 feet in Champlain's northwest corner had been good to him all week, but today Ober had to scratch and scrape for a meager limit. Actually, his spot may have still held more potential than his day-four weight of 11-13 reflects. Wind that grew much stronger than the predicted 9 mph was the likely thief.

"It had to have been the wind," Ober said. "I was fishing such a vast area, and that part of the lake has so many bass in it. It's probably one of the nation's greatest smallmouth fisheries, considering that area of the lake. There's no way my fish were gone. I think the wind moved them, but I couldn't figure out where.

"I'll probably think about that for a long time to come, but I was very happy with the outcome of this tournament. I got lucky for three days, and I'll take good luck any day of the week. It's better to be king for a day than to never be king at all."

Ober was drop-shotting all week, and his primary bait was the new Attraxx cut-tail worm in watermelon-candy color. He also caught one of his day-four keepers on a Berkley Gulp leech.

Flipping moves Montgomery up to fourth

Starting the day in fifth place, Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., set out to target largemouth bass,Flipping docks for largemouth enabled Andy Montgomery to improve to fourth place. and he sacked up a solid limit of 16 pounds, 11 ounces to finish with a fourth-place total of 70-1 worth nearly $10,000.

After catching a day-one bag of smallies that weighed 19-5, Montgomery could not get back on the brown fish, so he redirected his focus to the green fish. Today's sunny conditions had him optimistic about a hot flipping bite, as largemouths typically hug their structure during sunny conditions.

"I was really excited today," Montgomery said. "I thought I could catch a big bag of fish. I got five big bites, and I only got three of them, but I'm lucky to get them the way I was fishing.

"I was fishing docks, and I drug (the fish) over rebar and cross braces and everything else. When you're fishing that way, you're kind of playing with fire. I hadn't lost any all week, and this afternoon I lost two (big fish). But I was fortunate to get what I did."

Montgomery mainly fished a 1/2-ounce Shooter jig with a green-pumpkin Zoom Big Salty Chunk around the docks. His biggest challenge today was the wind.

"I had to look for places that were out of the wind and that made it a little difficult today, because I had some stuff on my GPS that I wanted to fish and it was just impossible. I tried to stay out of the wind, but when I was in the wind, I used my Power-Pole to hold my boat still."

Missed opportunity leaves Wolak in fifth

Anglers are notorious for tales of the one that got away, but North Carolina pro David Wolak has the Finising fifth, David Wolak lost an estimated six pounder on camera when the fish got sideways in a grass line.painful proof - a heart-breaking moment the world will see Oct. 24 when this tournament episode of "FLW Outoors" airs on Versus Country.

"If you want to see that agony of defeat, watch the show - I missed about a 6-pounder and that really hurt," Wolak said. "You get those bites not so often, and I kind of wasn't paying attention. I went around the backside of a dock and I was running the bank real fast. I hooked this big old 6-pounder, and it got me sideways in the grass. I had that panic moment, and I didn't know what to do with him, so I tried to swing him into the boat, but he came off in the air."

Wolak started strong, tying Ober for the day-one lead, but his numbers dropped on day two when his early flight kept him from capitalizing on an important afternoon bite. The next day saw a thick algae bloom overtake his main area, so he had to scramble and start running new water. This forced him to abandon his homemade ChatterBait-style lure and start flipping a 1/2-ounce Title Shot jig with a Yum Craw Pappy trailer. Wolak caught a day-four limit weighing 12-13 and finished at 66-9, earning about $9,000.

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

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