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Avena tops at Champlain

Pro leader Adrian Avena was the only angler to break 20 pounds on day one.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - He's still college, but New Jersey pro Adrian Avena gave a lesson in largemouthin' en route to earning the top spot at the EverStart Northern Division tournament on Lake Champlain.

A junior at Chestnut Hill College and a standout in the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series, Avena sacked up a limit that weighed 21 pounds, 3 ounces on day one. With the only catch of 20-plus, he now leads the field by a little over a pound. His catch included the day's Snickers Big Bass - a 6-pound, 12-ounce fish.

Although renowned for great numbers of quality largemouth and smallmouth bass, Champlain certainly did not make life easy for the EverStart field. Heavy rains and spring snow melt inundated the lake andPro leader Adrian Avena was the only angler to break 20 pounds on day one. raised the water level several feet past the 100-foot flood mark. This historic flood only recently started subsiding, so Champlain is still out of sorts. Add to this a drastic shift from sunny, calm conditions in practice to the dim, windy and occasionally damp weather of day one, and anglers certainly had their work cut out for them.

Avena caught his fish by flipping a 3/8-ounce black/brown/amber All-Terrain jig with a Berkley Chigger Craw trailer and a Zoom Brush Hog, a weightless Senko and 5-inch swimbait on a 6/0 Owner hook. He ran south to Ticonderoga, where he caught his fish in about five feet of water.

"I only put in about a day and a half of practice down there and I already knew what I was going to do," he said. "I practiced three or four days (in the northern end of the lake) and just couldn't get on anything solid. There were a lot of guys fishing in the same areas so I decided to make the run and try to get away from everyone."

A standout on the FLW National Guard College Fishing Series, Adrian Avena also caught the Snickers Big Bass for day one.With mostly warm and sunny weather preceding the tournament, Avena went into day one assuming his would be a brief period of activity. However, he was pleased to see the fish biting throughout his time on the lake.

"In practice, I really thought that by 9 o'clock I was going to be done," he said. "The bite was going to be over and I was hoping I could catch my weight by then. But I caught that big one at the end and I can thank the rain and the wind and the cloudy skies. That weather made the bite last throughout the day."

Bait diversity, Avena said, proved essential to generating the quality bites. "I'm fishing a really small area and you have to mix it up because the fish are constantly seeing one thing. I had to change it up to get them to bite."



Smallies send Sjobeck to second

On a day where largemouth bass accounted for much of the leading weights, Skip Sjobeck heaved aStaying north and slow rolling a swimbait led Skip Sjobeck to second place. hefty sack to the scale and walked away with a second-place position earned by 19 pounds and 15 ounces of brown fish.

With most of his 12 fish biting in the morning hours, the Vermont pro said his key bait was an X-Zone Swammer - a 4-inch soft body swimbait with a high level of action even on slower retrieves.

"The action is unique - it kind of wiggles and wobbles," Sjobeck said. "The tail moves tends to move a lot faster at lower speeds, so you can slow roll it. With the conditions today, the fish weren't really aggressive, so that made a difference."

Fishing north, Sjobeck worked in 10-12 feet of water. Whenever he saw a break in the wind, he mixed in a little jerkbait action. After spending part of his practice in Ticonderoga, Sjobeck determined that he'd fare better at the lake's opposite end.

"I went down south where I usually do well this time of year and they weren't grouped up like I like them," he said. "I came across a nice school of smallies (in the north end)."

Despite breakdown, Stoupa earns third

The decision to leave Ticonderoga early proved prudent when third-place pro Matt Stoupa broke down and had to be towed into port.His decision to leave a good bite early saved third-place pro Matt Stoupa from a lost effort. With a solid limit of 18-9, the Virginia pro departed Ticonderoga around noon and made the long run northward to the weigh-in. Unfortunately, an engine problem cut his trip short and he had to leave his boat in a south end marina. Fortunately, a fellow competitor carried Stoupa and his co-angler back to Plattsburgh.

"I came in early and it was a good thing I did," he said. "If I wouldn't have, I would have been stuck down there. We got towed to the marina, I tied my boat up there and I jumped in with another competitor and he was nice enough to give us a ride back."

Stoupa caught all of his fish by flipping plastics in five feet or less. Fishing slowly was essential to his success.

"This is the first time I've ever been here and before I came I decided I was going to go for largemouth," he said. "I have a lot more experience with largemouth. I don't have hardly any experience with smallmouth."

Schneider runs north for fourth

James Schneider, of Watervliet, N.Y. fished a 3/8-ounce black/blue jig and a 1/2-ounce whiteJames Schneider fished north and caught the fourth-place bag of fish with a jig and a spinnerbait. spinnerbait to sack up an 18-pound, 8-ounce bag that put him in fourth place. Schneider, whose bag included a largemouth that went 6-4, said he decided to run north to the Vermont side in hopes of locating fish of maximum girth.

"The fish are in all stages of spawn now, so I figured the farther north I go, the more I might find them spawning and I might find bigger fish," he said. "That's what my biggest fish was doing. I didn't see it, but it was in the (shallow) grass. I had four largemouth and one smallmouth that was in the same area, so it was spawning also."

Flipping jigs and soft plastics in Ticonderoga put Charles Main in fifth place.Charles Main, of Ellwood, Penn. ran south to Ticonderoga and caught the fifth-place bag of 18-7 by flipping jigs and plastics. Apparently, his fish reacted to the drop in water level because most of his catches came toward the end of his day.

Best of the rest

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

6th: Joe Lucarelli, of Center Harbor, N.H., 18-6
7th: Glenn Babineau, of Mechanicville, N.Y., 18-4
8th: Craig Townsend, of Mt. Holly, N.J., 18-2
9th: Michael Wolfenden, of Warwick, R.I., 17-8
10th: Chad Pipkens, of Holt, Mich., 16-15


Noechel swims into co-angler lead

Making good use of her time and making good adjustments propelled Trudy Noechel to the top spot in the co-angler division with a limit catch that weighed 18 pounds.

"My pro was on bed fish this morning and I just fan casted around and caught my limit by swimming a tube," she said. "After that, we went to some largemouth and I caught my (biggest) fish on a Senko. I Swimming tubes and Senkos delivered the co0-angler lead and the Snickers Big Bass for Trudy Noechel.was doing the same thing - I was swimming the Senko. I wasn't letting it get down."

Noechel, who hails from Lost Creek, W.V., said she rigged her tubes on a light ¼-ounce jig head to affect the swimming motion. Green pumpkin worked best for the tubes and Senkos.

Brad Rutherford, of Lavonia, Ga., placed second with 17-13, while Emily Mcleod, of Williston, Vt. took third with 16-8. Myron Worona, of Hermitage, Penn. was fourth with 16-2 and Christopher Blanc, of Cos Cob, Conn. ended at fifth with 16-0.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Lake Champlain event:

6th: Chris Kinney-Hermes, of Champlain, N.Y., 15-13
7th: Dick Gum, of Woodbridge, Va., 14-15
8th: Ryan Latinville, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., 14-4
9th: Joe R. Wong, of Hartford City, Ind., 14-4
10th: Justin White, of Slippery Rock, Penn., 14-0

Day two of EverStart Series Northern Division action on Lake Champlain continues at Friday's takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:00 a.m. (Eastern) at Plattsburgh Boat Basin located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Tags: david-a-brown  headline-story  2011-06-23-lake-champlain 

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