UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Fall fast approaching at Champlain

Walmart FLW Tour anglers were greeted by cold, rainy conditions Thursday morning.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - After a warm official practice period, anglers fishing the Walmart FLW Tour Open on Lake Champlain are about to receive a rude awakening in the form of fall's first cold front. And it's a doozy too. Instead of high temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the mercury will struggle to reach the mid-50s Thursday. And accompanying that bitter cold was a soaking rain in the morning.

Cold fronts are typically bad news for bass fishermen. But in the fall, a chilly snap can both group fish together and trigger them to bite. However, that isn't always the case. The early consensus among the field was that the cold front was better for the smallmouth fishing. But northern strain largemouths don't completely shut down during a front either.

"We come up here every year to fish for those big smallmouths, and I have no plans to change," said Kellogg's Rice Krispies pro Jim Tutt, who finished seventh on Champlain in 2008. "A cold front can help the smallmouth in the fall, but the rain isn't usually good, so that complicates things. These smallmouths are sight feeders, so Texas pro Jim Tutt wonyou don't want anything impairing their vision."

Tutt reported his practice was decent. He caught some nice brown ones, but not quite as many as he's accustomed to. Most of his fish were positioned on breaklines in approximately 20 feet of water.

"The quality is there. I still think it will take 17 pounds a day to make the cutoff. And it's possible they could cancel tomorrow if the forecast for the wind holds true. So I'm making several stops on some of my big-fish places today. There's no holding back; I'm going to keep whacking."

Michigan pro Art Ferguson also prefers to target smallmouths. He said it's true that cold weather in the fall triggers the bite, but there's a caveat.

"The biggest change is going to be the wind," he said. "In practice, we had steady south winds every day. Today the wind is coming from the north and that changes things."

While Tutt caught some big ones, most pros described the pre-front fishing as just OK. In particular, the largemouth game had been tricky, despite the lake being high thanks to an unexpected dumping from Hurricane Irene. While the high water opened up some shallow flipping ground, the bass have scattered in it and some are simply inaccessible. The Ticonderoga, N.Y., area, known for its prolific largemouth fishing, is off a bit thanks to dirty water.

But this is Lake Champlain, one of the best black bass fisheries in the United States. No matter the conditions, they will catch them today. And the debate as to whether smallmouths or largemouths are the winning ticket will rage on.

Shortly before takeoff, there was a moment of silence in remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks. At the time, just a few hours north of New York City, anglers were practicing on Lake Champlain for the 2001 Forrest Wood Cup, which would later be canceled. A decade later, it is still an emotional memory.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Dock Street Landing located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh at 6:30 each Walmart FLW Tour anglers blast off through the open waters of Lake Champlain.morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the landing beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart store located at 25 Consumer Square in Plattsburgh beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the weigh-ins. The first 300 kids 14 and under on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days. The top five in the standings from the four FLW Tour Opens will advance to the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, which is being held at Lake Lanier in Duluth, Ga., Aug. 9-12.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Lake Champlain event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 6:32 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 54 degrees
Expected high temperature: 55 degrees
Water temperature: 68-71 degrees
Wind: N at 9 mph
Maximum humidity: 84 percent
Day's outlook: rain

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2011-09-15-lake-champlain 

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