UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Yamamoto slams new Champlain record

Yamamoto slams new Champlain record
Pro leader Gary Yamamoto holds up his two biggest bass from day one on Lake Champain.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Mother Nature did just about everything possible on day one to prevent the 135 Walmart FLW Tour pros from catching big stringers. Lake Champlain is unusually high, a bitter cold front recently arrived and steady rain soaked the field from head to toe. But Champlain is simply too good of a fishery to be held down. Like always, the weights were impressive with five stringers recorded in excess of 20 pounds. None were heavier than Gary Yamamoto's 24 pounds, 4 ounces.

Yamamoto's 24-4, which consisted of all largemouths, was officially the heaviest single-day Champlain stringer in FLW Outdoors history, regardless of circuit. The previous record was set back in 2007 when Guido Hibdon of Summer Beach, Mo., caught five bass for 23 pounds during the 2007 FLW Series event.

"I started off with four small ones, and then I caught a 3-pounder, the smallest one I weighed," said the Palestine, Texas, resident. "After that, it was one here and one there as I slowly improved."

Yamamoto said the area he's fishing has a mix of both largemouths and smallmouths. While the majority of good ones are green, he did cull a 3-pound smallmouth.

"I basically fished a whole bay, covering a lot of water while I looked for specific things. About three years ago I found some fish in prepractice when the water was high like this. But then when the tournament started it dropped and I couldn't get to them. Now I get to go back to those fish."

Not surprisingly, Yamamoto used his famous Senko, a soft plastic bait that has revolutionized finesse fishing. The day-one leader won't say how he's rigging his Senko. But it accounted for 15 keepers.

"The first day of practice wasn't good until I moved shallow. I'm now fishing a pattern where I can catch them anywhere I go so I feel like I'm in pretty good shape."

Mixmaster Wolak sacks 22-8 on birthday
Second-place pro David Wolak once again used a mix of largemouths and smallmouths in reaching 22-8.
In second place is North Carolina pro David Wolak, who caught 22 pounds, 8 ounces on his 35th birthday. Each year when Wolak heads to Champlain he formulates a game plan that includes both largemouths and smallmouths - earning him the moniker "mixmaster."

"There's nothing better than fishing Lake Champlain on my birthday," said Wolak, who grew up in Pennsylvania. "And I drew my old team partner Chris Hall as my co-angler so that made it even better."

Wolak started the day flipping grass mats for largemouths. He then ran to a smallmouth area and caught two nice ones before returning to largemouths once it got lighter.

"I really prefer the sun when I'm largemouth fishing. I can see the grass better and it also incubates them and makes them bite."

His final creel consisted of three largemouths and two smallmouths, but Wolak caught roughly 20 keepers of each. He ended the day with four fish over 4 pounds and one small 2 1/2-pounder he wasn't able to cull.

With blustery weather forecasted for tomorrow, Wolak is already thinking about his next move.

"I'm always anticipating the weather; that's how most of my practice time is spent. So I'm ready to adjust tomorrow if needed."

Eldest Lane third

Florida pro Arnie Lane sits in third place after catching a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 5 ounces.Arnie Lane, the senior member of the three-man Lane Fishing Team, sits in third place after catching a limit of largemouths worth 21 pounds, 5 ounces.

"Everybody was telling me that I had to have a mixed bag, but I just stuck with my style of fishing," said the Lakeland, Fla., pro. "I really don't enjoy fishing a drop-shot. I enjoy flipping, pitching and casting to shallow water."

The 38-year-old Lane said he keyed on grass, wood, rocks and docks as he covered water on the north side of the lake.

"I'm not kidding you when I say I caught 40 fish today. I'm about out of tackle. Weather-wise it was miserable, but fishing-wise it was awesome. I just absolutely stroked them."

Lane's kicker fish weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce and was the Snickers Big Bass in the Pro Division.

Biron fourth

South Windsor, Conn., pro Daryl Biron brought in a mixed bag weighing 21 pounds, 4 ounces for fourth place. Biron fished for smallmouths most of the day. But with an hour left, he switched to largemouths Pro Daryl Biron caught a mixed bag worth 21-4 to finish the opening day in fourth place.and coaxed two kickers, including a 5-pound, 7-ounce brute.

"I'm not really a local, but I fish here every chance I get. I love it."

Biron targets docks and milfoil for largemouths and uses drop-shots and Carolina rigs for the deeper smallmouths. While his day was successful by most any measure, he went through a streak where he missed six consecutive smallmouths, some of which would have improved his weight. He eventually changed his hook, which he swears wasn't dull, and never missed another bite.

"I think the sun could help the largemouth bite tomorrow. But it's risky (solely targeting largemouths), because I'm pretty sure I can get 16 pounds of smallmouths. But if you get five of the right largemouth bites, you can catch 25 pounds. Hopefully I can get the smallmouths pretty quick and then I'll go largemouth fishing."

Biron said both his largemouth and smallmouth spots are located within 7 miles of each other in the mid-lake region.

Schmitt fifth

Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the FLW Tour Open on the Potomac River, pro Bryan Schmitt is back in the top five after catching 20-pound, 11-ounce limit. While Schmitt is a BFL standout, this is his first season fishing the FLW Tour. After a tough opener on Okeechobee, the Deale, Md., pro has rebounded nicely.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain after day one:

6th: Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., five bass, 19-13
7th: Craig Dowling of Grant, Ala., five bass, 19-4
8th: Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., five bass, 19-3
9th: Joe Lucarelli of Center Harbor, N.H., five bass, 18-14
10th: Kyle Mabrey of McCalla, Ala., five bass, 18-13

Scott goes brown for co-angler lead

Co-angler leader Greg Scott holds up his biggest bass from day one on Lake Champlain.Greg Scott, a veteran smallmouth angler who fishes St. Clair and Erie often, was right at home drop-shotting and Carolina rigging on Lake Champlain Thursday. The Dearborn, Mich., native caught 10 keeper smallmouths and his best five weighed 18 pounds, 8 ounces. His biggest bass went 4-7.

"We caught a lot of fish early and then there was about a two-hour lull before we started to catch them again. I think three of the ones I weighed were on the drop-shot and two were on the C rig."

Scott said he employed those baits in water approximately 18 to 21 feet deep.

"I am happy to be leading, but there is still a long way to go. I had probably one of the toughest practices I've ever had on Champlain so we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Scott calls Steve Clapper, his local team partner, and Larry Nixon his Tour practice partner, as two close friends. That's some pretty impressive company.

Hall second

Christopher Hall used to team with David Wolak back when the two fished the Foxwoods Tournament Trail. Today they drew each other in a pro-am event and each finished the day second in their respective divisions. Hall's mixed bag, which consisted of three smallmouths and two largemouths, weighed 16-11.

"I think I caught around 40 fish today," said the 2010 FLW Series Lake Champlain champion. "The bite was good early and good late. I'm from Pennsylvania and I used to come up here all the time with my dad. I'm not a local, but I've paid my dues."

Rest of the best

Fourth-place co-angler William Rogers holds up a nice Lake Champlain smallmouth.Veteran co-angler Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark., is in third place with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces.

William Rogers of Hiram, Ga., is in fourth place with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces.

Jeff Gengler of Fort Collins, Colo., rounds out the top five co-anglers with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 5 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain after day one:

6th: Chad Billiot of Raceland, La., five bass, 16-4
6th: Casey Martin of Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 16-4
8th: Mark Banks of East Aurora, N.Y., five bass, 16-2
9th: William Wood of West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 15-12
10th: Jeff Barry of South Royalton, Vt., five bass, 15-11

The Co-angler Division Snickers Big Bass was caught by Gary Walker and weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces.

Day two of the FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain will begin Friday at 6:30 a.m. at the Dock Street Landing located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh. Friday's weigh-in takes place at 2:30 p.m., also at the landing.

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

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