UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

A Different Champlain?

A Different Champlain?
Glenn Browne

With more than 190 pros and co-anglers ready for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division to kick off on Lake Champlain, anticipation is definitely high for this week’s derby. Set in the Champlain Valley between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains, the big Northern lake is one of the most beautiful in the country and has a reputation for some of the best fishing around. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, is sure to show that off, but exactly how the fish will be caught remains to be seen.

 

Chris Johnston

The state of the lake

When the FLW Tour visited Champlain in 2016 the lake was extremely low, making it difficult to access areas of Missisquoi Bay and its namesake river and taking quite a bit of shallow cover out of play. Thankfully, due to a damp spring and plenty of winter snowfall, the lake is back to normal this year, so that’s one variable taken out of the equation. The main tasks that anglers face this week are to decide between the north end and the south end of the lake and figure out exactly what stage the bass are in.

A few weeks ago the lake was set to warm up and proceed along a usual spring pattern, but a string of cool nights with some extra rain has “slowed” the lake down considerably. Late June on Champlain usually hits the tail end of the spawn. In fact, last year’s FLW Tour event held June 23-26 featured tons of spawning smallmouths and a few largemouths still left on beds. Right now, it looks like a good chunk of the spawn may be yet to come.

Austin Felix

“I think spawning smallmouths are gonna be a big player here, if we get some days you can see,” says Glenn Browne, who won on Champlain in 2015. “I don’t think the largemouths have made a big move in yet, either. I haven’t found any big groups up shallow where you can just go to whacking on them.”

Browne’s water temperature readings bear that out. Fishing around in the north end, he’s seen temperatures from the low 60s to the low 70s. Over the weekend in the middle part of Champlain, which sees the biggest winds and has the deepest water, the water temperature barely cracked 61 degrees. Now, the spawn down on the south end of the lake around Ticonderoga is assuredly almost over. The water warms faster there, and though Browne spotted a few largemouths on beds, it wasn’t anything he’d try to run in a tournament. But, just because one population is done spawning doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty on beds somewhere else in the 100-mile-long lake.

Back on June 10, Vermont angler Chris Adams caught nearly 22 pounds of smallmouths to win an ABA tournament out of Plattsburgh.

“I caught a few of them on beds, but some other ones that I caught I could see but they weren’t locked,” says Adams. “I caught some on beds and some coming up, but I don’t think any of them were going out.”

As a local, Adams keeps a good pulse on Champlain, and his report is as mixed as Browne’s is.

“The spring has been crazy. It’s been cold and rainy and then real hot, and right now I think you have fish in all stages,” explains Adams. “This is the one tournament where you could have 10 different patterns for your top 10. Usually there are two, maybe three things going on. Now it’s like anything goes.”

 

Glenn Browne cranks up and heads south for largemouths.

North or south?

Plattsburgh, where the tournament takes off, is a great place to be for access to the plentiful smallmouths in the more open areas of the north end, and it provides equally convenient access to the largemouths in the bays. The only issue is getting to the largemouths down south near Ticonderoga (Ti), which involves a 60-mile run over a lake than can get extremely rough at times.

Going south usually means you need to be on something pretty good, but despite the distance, it’s got a reputation for cranking out at least a few top-10 finishes each year (the majority in some years). Plus, plenty of wins have been based on lugging five hefty Ti largemouths back to Plattsburgh each day.

“For the top 10, I would say four will come out of the south, and six will come out of the north,” says Adams. “I think some guys will catch them in Ti, more than four on the first day, but can they do it again will be the big question mark. I think the north will be more consistent.”

Browne has won down south before, but he’s not feeling it this year.

“I don’t know what’s up with Ti,” says Browne. “I put in about eight hours there and caught three or four and had a few other bites. It’s not good, and JT [Kenney] went down there yesterday, and he said he had three. Something’s up down there. Ti is out for me.”

Of course, not many pros made the run to Ti last year in the FLW Tour event, and Jason Meninger ended up finishing second there. It’s hard to totally count out such a historically important area.

 

Glenn Browne works his way through the shallows of Ticonderoga.

Co-angler Bryan New goes in with the net as Garry Woodruff's bass jumps boat side.

Prospective patterns

In the summer, the typical patterns on Champlain run the gamut from flipping grass and docks for largemouths to drop-shotting for smallmouths in 25 feet of water. This time of year, the focus will almost certainly be on water less than 10 feet deep, but the possible techniques are even more varied.

Spawning smallmouths will eat all kinds of finesse baits, hit a jerkbait and even blow up on a topwater. Other shallow brown fish could be caught on hair jigs, crankbaits or swimbaits. If some deeper smallmouth patterns develop, expect to see Carolina rigs, jigs and drop-shot rigs get a workout.

Largemouths on Champlain are most often found in and around the plentiful milfoil beds, but they can get comfy with other cover, too, from rock piles in the right areas to docks, laydowns, cattails and reeds. Flipping is the most common way to put a largemouth in the net, but Scott Martin caught some last year with crankbaits on the way to winning, and frogs and swimming things work great also.

 

Tournament details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Plattsburgh City Marina, 5 Dock Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Weigh-In Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Plattsburgh City Marina

Complete details

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2017-06-22-lake-champlain 

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Taking the co-angler win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, Tony Grubb weighed four bass for 14 pounds, 1 ounce on the final day for a 46-5 total. For the win, his second as a co-angler with FLW, Grubb takes home a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat worth over $35,000. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. READ MORE »

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Weighing 18 pounds and 9 ounces on day three for a 59-3 total, Scott Dobson moved from second to first to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. The win is Dobson’s second in Toyota Series competition and his eighth overall with FLW. For the win, Dobson takes home $27,534 and further burnishes his record as one of the best smallmouth anglers on the planet.   READ MORE »

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River saw the pros stuck in the river itself again due to the wind. Moving up from fourth place into the lead, Wilson Burton weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces to get up to a 40-11 total. With the only 20-pound bag of the day, Burton slipped past Scott Dobson by just one ounce, who weighed 19-12 and sits behind him with a 40-10 total. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. READ MORE »

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Strong winds kept the pros in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River pinned to the actual river, but the fishing was still very good. Plenty of anglers brought in 17 pounds or more, and the leaders are all concentrated around the 20-pound mark. In first, Troy Stokes of Brownstown, Mich., weighed 21 pounds, 4 ounces to kick things off. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Right off the bat, the anglers in the field at the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River were thrown a curveball by the weather. This morning, with increasing wind forecasts, tournament officials made Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair off-limits, thereby penning up the 87 pros and co-anglers on the American side of the Detroit River. READ MORE »

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Originally from Wisconsin and sometimes wearing a Green Bay Packers hoodie on stage, Dustin Smith doesn’t fit the mold of Toyota Series Southeastern Division Strike King Angler of the Year. Still, Smith hammered out a pair of top 10s and a 27th-place showing en route to the title, and his style of fishing was simply perfect for this season in the Southeastern Division. READ MORE »

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

The 2020 Toyota Series Northern Division will wrap up in Trenton, Mich., Sept. 17-19, at the Detroit River. Hosted by the Detroit Sports Commission, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Eastern Division Heads to the Potomac

Eastern Division Heads to the Potomac

The Toyota Series Eastern Division rolls on with the Toyota Series at the Potomac River. Hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sturgeon Bay

Top 10 Baits from Sturgeon Bay

Summertime smallmouth fishing makes having a drop-shot or two on the deck pretty essential, and the top pros in the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay basically all relied on the versatile finesse rig to get the job done. However, between them, there was a decent amount of variation in baits, and a few pros actually branched out from the drop-shot into other techniques. READ MORE »

Mitchell’s First Look at Sturgeon Bay

Mitchell’s First Look at Sturgeon Bay

Having fished as a pro on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for five years now, Kurt Mitchell started coming into his own during the 2019 season. That year he qualified for the FLW Cup – for the first time in his career – by finishing 24th in the points. This year, Mitchell kept rolling along cashing checks in five of the six Pro Circuit tournaments to settle at 31st in the points and now finds himself in his second straight championship. READ MORE »

Practice at Sturgeon Bay with Shuffield

Practice at Sturgeon Bay with Shuffield

Spencer Shuffield has had a tremendous season on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and he capped it off with a top 10 finish at Lake Erie. Now, he’s getting ready for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay, which has only the top 50 Pro Circuit anglers in it and will be a Major League Fishing (MLF) format event. READ MORE »

Big Prizes at Stake for College Open

Big Prizes at Stake for College Open

After being postponed due to COVID-19, the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open is set to take place on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-September for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat and 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship. READ MORE »

Mundy goes Back-to-Back on Erie

Mundy goes Back-to-Back on Erie

Totaling up 41 pounds, 6 ounces, Dan Mundy won the co-angler side of the Toyota Series event on Lake Erie and is about ready to start a boat dealership. After winning the first Northern Division event of the year, the Michigan co-angler went back-to-back in the second event of the season to claim another Phoenix boat worth $33,500. READ MORE »

Mitchell Holds on at Erie

Mitchell Holds on at Erie

After weighing nearly 25 pounds on day two, Kurt Mitchell put 15 pounds, 8 ounces on the scale on the final day to close out the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With 60-2 total, Mitchell earned his first FLW win and pocketed $26,206 in winnings. READ MORE »

Mitchell Swings into the Lead on Erie

Mitchell Swings into the Lead on Erie

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was tough on some, but it was a party for Kurt Mitchell. Weighing 24 pounds, 11 ounces, he moved up from second into the lead with a 44-10 total. Only the top 10 fish on the final day and they’ll have a steep hill to climb to catch Mitchell. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has posed some serious challenges from a coverage perspective. Not only are the leaders fishing about as far apart as possible, but the waves to the east of Sandusky are pretty huge. Still, from the reports we have, it looks like plenty of fish will come to the scale one way or another. READ MORE »

Parker Whacks 21-6 on Erie

Parker Whacks 21-6 on Erie

Due to big winds and waves, day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was somewhat hampered. Still, the fishing was pretty good, and Dick Parker of Lorain, Ohio, sacked up 21 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead. READ MORE »

Another Erie Battle Begins

Another Erie Battle Begins

The Toyota Series Northern Division is going out of Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie once again. This week’s event takes place on August 18-20, and it is the second stop of the Northern Division. Like the last event out of Sandusky, Erie is in play, as well as the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, with all Canadian waters being off-limits to fishing. READ MORE »