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


The bane of Champlain

Lake Champlain may have dipped below flood level, but lingering high water will play a big role in this week's EverStart tournament.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Sandbags, water lines well above lawnmower level and a lot of displaced chipmunks - that's the scene on Lake Champlain. The area has officially fallen below the 100-foot flood level, but anglers fishing the EverStart Series Northern Division event will have to deal with a lot of lake.

Snow melt, combined with historic spring rains, had swollen the lake straddling the New York-Vermont border, and both sides saw disastrous flooding, which temporarily closed roads, halted ferry services and pushed water well into tree lines. The emergency has mostly subsided. However, Champlain will show anglers a much different scenario than they've seen in years past. This means an interesting mix of challenges and opportunities.

"Lake Champlain's fishing totally different than what we typically see (in June)," said Pennsylvania proAnglers make their way through boat check on the morning of day one. Jason Ober. "The fish are really spread out, but I still think you're going to see big bags of fish brought in. I believe that if you're in the right place at the right time, that's going to be the deal."

West Virginia pro Paul Noechel agreed, adding: "This lake is still (several) feet over normal level, and the water clarity is different than what we're used to here. The fish aren't schooled up like they were this time last year, so I think you're going to see everyone moving around a lot."

Reports indicate that the lake's bass are in varying stages of their spawning cycle from pre- to postspawn. Ober said most of the largemouths he found in practice appeared to be spawned out, but the smallies were fat and sassy.

"A smallmouth that would normally go 2 pounds is about 2 ¾ (pounds) right now, and that extra three-quarters can really add up," Ober said.

Wacky-rigged Senkos will be one of the more common baits for pros and co-anglers on Lake Champlain.The usual mix of plastics - dropshots, tubes and wacky-rigged Senkos - will occupy most of Ober's day, but he'll occasionally use a Zoom Fluke as a search bait. Rigging a stinger hook - facing opposite to his lead hook - helps him stick short-striking fish.

Noechel said he'll start with a topwater plug and keep it handy throughout the day, as cloudy skies could extend the bait's viability. He'll also employ a tube and a dropshot, but when the wind picks up later in day, he'll throw a spinnerbait.

Pennsylvania pro Randy Yalnall said he could only catch small fish under 2 pounds in practice, but he has a game plan for leveraging current lake conditions to his benefit. Yarnall suspects that a lot of fish followed the rising water into flooded shoreline cover, mostly pencil reeds and other vegetation. He's hoping to score big by pitching tubes and other plastics to the fish.

"I know they're in there," Yarnall said. "I could see them (in practice). But they're spooky, so I have toPennsylvania pro Randy Yarnall will be looking for big bites in flooded weeds. keep my distance, pitch up in there and just keep working them. I have a whole day to catch five fish, and there are some quality fish in there."

Today's forecast for cloudy skies and afternoon rains will virtually eliminate the sight-fishing game. Moreover, big winds will whip the lake by midday, so anglers who make long runs will burn more time on the throttle.

Noechel said that despite the lake's conditions, he's expecting to see good catches. He estimates that it will take 17 to 18 pounds a day to make the top-10 cut for day three. Considering Champlain's reputation for quality smallmouths and largemouths, it's likely that the top anglers will weigh mixed bags of green and brown fish.


Paul Noechel will start day one with a topwater and probably switch to a spinnerbait later in the morning.Anglers will take off from Plattsburgh Boat Basin located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh, N.Y., at 6 each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 2 p.m. daily. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at the Walmart located at 25 Consumer Square in Plattsburgh starting at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

The EverStart Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on Kentucky Lake in Buchanan, Tenn., Oct. 27-30.Cloudy skies at takeoff foretold the rainy conditions likely for later in the day.

The EverStart Series tournament on Lake Champlain is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:37 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 63 degrees
Expected high temperature: 72 degrees
Wind: SE at 10-15 mph
Humidity: 84 percent
Day's outlook: cloudy, showers and thunderstorms

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


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