UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. 

 

About the fishery 

At about 100 miles long, Champlain is a large body of water with a reputation for great fishing for brown and green bass alike – and plenty of wind.

The south end of the lake around Ticonderoga (also known as “Ti”) is narrow and mostly shallow. The water is dirtier, and there are big grass beds nearly everywhere. Most of the grass is Eurasian milfoil, but there’s a wide variety of species present. Though some big smallmouths live in the south end, they’re almost never a factor in the summertime. Recent years haven’t been kind to anglers who ran to Ti, but last month’s FLW Tour event was won there, and seven of the top 10 pros fished there, so Ti seems to be back to full strength once again. 

The midsection of the lake is deep and clear with some grass. It’s primarily rocky and is almost exclusively home to smallmouths and coldwater species that live in the main basin (the lake is more than 400 feet deep in the middle in some areas). The main lake is heavily influenced by wind and usually only factors into tournaments in the spring, when cooler water there delays the smallmouth spawn.  

The north end of the lake is broad and clear and has a healthy mix of weeds, rock, and smallmouths and largemouths. Because of the number of islands and bays, the area is a little more manageable in the wind, and there is more shallow water to fish. The Missisquoi River flows into the lake in the northeast corner, and the area around it is dirtier and grassier than the rest of the region. Unlike the south end (where largemouths are the sole target) winning limits of both species can be found within minutes of each other up north. 

 

Current conditions 

Because Champlain is so big, there are always a few different sets of conditions possible at any given time. This year, because of the high water from the spring, things are moved around a bit, but Champlain isn’t that far out of character. Up north, the fish are mostly postspawn and transitioning into summer patterns. Down south, the largemouths are doing their typical summer thing, albeit not in the exact same places as normal. 

One of the most optimistic pros in the field, Kurt Mitchell, is as hyped as he’s ever been to make the run to Ti. 

“I went down to Ti, and I started catching them pretty much immediately,” says Mitchell of his practice. “The grass looks really good – it’s not too thick, so you can throw a swim jig in there, and flipping is pretty easy. It’s tall enough where you can see what to flip, but not so thick that you’re just blindly flipping in it. 

“If we can make it there all three days, it’s going to be dominated by Ti,” he adds. “I found three different schools in the mats that are just incredible. I went to one mat and I set the hook and the first one was a 3-pounder, and I had 12 consecutive casts after that I got blown up on and I shook them off. You don’t find that anywhere else in the world. It’s just crazy what’s going on down there now.”

Some of the folks fishing up north have definite interest in Ti but think they’re still better off closer to takeoff. Jimmy Kennedy is one of them, and he’s planning on fishing almost entirely for smallmouths. 

“It’s definitely in some type of transition,” says Kennedy of the north end. “It’s a few weeks behind, and I know there are still a few fish on beds. But I’m looking for fish deep – I’m going to try to rush the summer pattern a little bit for some good smallmouths. I found a few schools of largemouth that are setting up on a summer pattern too, but I don’t know how many other people found them too.

“I’m tempted to run, but I plan on staying north. There’s good largemouth up here, and I’ve got a lot of good smallie spots that could be turning on. I think the south is fishing really well right now; the Tour cracked them, and then it seemed to slow down a bit, but Ti is back on now.” 

Ron Nelson has won the last two FLW Series tilts on Champlain with mostly spawning smallmouths. Though that’s not a factor this week, he’s committed to fishing north again. 

“The water has come down and stabilized out,” says Nelson, who finished 14th in the Tour finale last month. “The fish are healthier and fighting hard now, getting strong. The smallmouth are definitely getting some shoulders back on them finally. They aren’t real grouped up now, but they’re starting to get out on structure. 

“I spent some time looking for largemouth up north, but I haven’t really found them yet,” says the reigning FLW Tour Polaris Rookie of the Year. “I found some places where you could catch 30 or 40 fish, but they’re mostly all small. I’m not catching 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 largemouths, I’m just not. They seem to be missing from the top of the lake, and I don’t really know why. For smallmouth, I think that midrange, maybe 6-to-13-feet deep is the prime range. It depends on where you’re at and time of day, but you can get some of those bigger smallmouth without going too deep.”

 

Tactics in play 

Champlain is famous for the options it provides, so anglers will be able to put a lot of rods on the deck if they want to. 

For folks running to Ti, grass-type baits will dominate. Flipping baits, vibrating jigs and frogs will be abundant. There are also sure to be some fish caught off hard cover down south, and crankbaits will get the call for that. 

Up north, there’s a lot more mystery. Carolina rigs are always good for the smallmouths in the summer, and the usual finesse offerings are going to catch bass. Depending on the weather, a spy bait might make some waves as well. One fun possibility that seems to have gained some traction in practice is a big walking topwater. If you’re hunting largemouth up north, the best bets are usually a stick bait or something to flip. 

 

Critical factors 

  • Ti – Back in the day, you almost certainly had to run to Ti to make the cut at tournaments on Champlain. It could be that time again, but the smallmouth have been growing in recent years, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the north end hold strong. 
  • Wind – The forecast for Thursday is pretty kind, but things could get interesting after that. For anyone running to Ti, a couple days of rough water could make winning a real long shot. 
  • Kickers – Doing well on Champlain often depends on averaging a little better size than your competition, but there have been some really big green and brown fish showing up in practice. Getting a bite or two that go 5 pounds or better will go a really long way. 

 

Dock talk 

Weight predictions are all over the board for this tournament, though that’s relative to Champlain, which usually features packed weights. If the weather is perfect, it could set up for someone to break 60 pounds, but that’s probably a bit unrealistic. 

“I think a mixed bag will win, and I think you’re gonna have to have a milk run,” says Vermont pro Cole Harris. “Just from what I’ve seen and caught, I think there’s gonna be a lot of 15-pound bags, and I think 17 or 19 will be up top. I think it will drop off kind of fast, though, and there will be a lot of 15- or 16-pound bags.”

More optimistic and headed south, Mitchell says his dream scenario could produce a winning weight around 60 pounds. 

“I think it’s going to be close to 60 pounds,” says Kennedy. “Somebody is going to catch them really good; I wouldn’t be surprised if someone catches 20, 20 and 18. But, I’ve heard a lot of guys saying 17 pounds a day will make the cut, so maybe it won’t be that good.” 

Nelson figures on a high-weight tournament as well. 

“Consistency is going to be the main deal for making the top 10,” says the Michigan pro. “If you can catch 17 3/4 or 18 pounds a day, you’ll make the top 10. I think somebody is going to bang out a big bag of 22 or 23 pounds one day, though. For the smallmouth, there should be a handful of guys that can catch 18 pounds a day, but you might have to leave those areas to try to catch a 5- or 6-pound largemouth.”

 

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: 6:00 a.m. ET

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

Weigh-In Time: 2:00 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Plattsburgh City Marina

Complete details

Tags: flw  lake-champlain  bass-fishing  fishing-tournament  jody-white  morning-story  2019-07-18-lake-champlain 

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

The top finishers in the recent Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn caught the lake when the shallow bite was just picking up. Sticking shallow around hydrilla with a wake bait, Aaron Johnson stayed consistent and won the event. Behind Johnson, there was a lot of room for pros to fish to their strengths, though there’s no doubt that shallow eventually won out. READ MORE »

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Weighing five fish for 12 pounds, 4 ounces, co-angler Anthony Templeton of Beckville, Texas, rocketed up from fifth place to win the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. With a total of 28-3, Templeton takes home a new Phoenix bass boat worth $33,500 and his first winner’s trophy with FLW. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Our crew on the water hasn’t had very good luck tracking the top pros down in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, but the fishing has still been pretty good. With the entire top 10 within striking distance, it’s still anyone’s game, and the good fishing today could help someone run into a mega-bag. READ MORE »

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Going into the final day, Blake Schroeder was just 3 ounces ahead of Aaron Johnson in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Tight to the end, both anglers brought more than 18 pounds to the scale, but Johnson’s 18-14 bag boosted his total to 54-14 and earned him the win. For the victory, Johnson takes home $31,751 and the second FLW win of his career. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition, it’s looking like the shallow grass bite is the deal in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Leading the way, Blake Schroeder had tallied a pair of 18-pound bags from shallow grass, and the pros behind him aren’t slacking on the grass game either. Heading into the final day, it’s going to be a true shootout for the win, with a Texas-sized kicker a bite away for everyone in the field. READ MORE »

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Climbing from fourth to first, Blake Schroeder took over the lead in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn with his second-consecutive 18-pound bag. Weighing 18-3 on day one, the Texas pro put an even 18 pounds on the scale on day two for a 36-3 total. Behind him, the weights are stacked, and five other pros are within 5 pounds going into the final day on the big Texas lake. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn has been exactly as forecast. Somewhat chilly, with scattered rain and wind in the morning, it’s starting to brighten up now. Though most fished with jackets and bibs on in the morning, it’s now very comfortable and the sun is out pretty steadily. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn offered pretty good fishing and a lot of options. Anglers in the top 10 fished deep, shallow and in between to catch their fish, and no one pattern dominated the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Taking the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, Cole Moore weighed an even 21 pounds to kick things off. Though the fishing was not really up to the massive heights it can reach on Rayburn, it was far from bad, and plenty of pros put together limits in the teens both shallow and deep. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event has been beautiful so far, with mild weather and apparently decent fishing. Though Rayburn isn’t kicking them out like it can, there seem to be plenty of ways to catch fish and at least one pro has seen some success. READ MORE »

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Takeoff for day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn was about as perfect as it gets. Light wind paired with crisp, comfortable temperatures and plenty of sun provided an auspicious beginning to the Toyota Series event on the sprawling Texas reservoir. READ MORE »

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

Bradley Dortch, who grew up on the Tensaw River and the Mobile Delta, says throwing shrimp for bass is a winner, and a viable tournament technique if you use plastic ones. It all has to do with the seasonal movement of the forage. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

The Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman was a fall grinder. With the lake in fall transition and turnover occurring throughout the lake, some of the popular lure choices included shaky heads, jigs, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. Here is a closer look at the best baits of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

Eastanollee’s Morrow Wins Toyota Series Event on Lake Norman

Eastanollee’s Morrow Wins Toyota Series Event on Lake Norman

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 3, 2020) – Pro Troy Morrow of Eastanollee, Georgia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series at Lake Norman event in Huntersville, North Carolina. Morrow’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 32-3 earned him the win by a 4.... READ MORE »

Fall Junk Fishing Jam Starts at Norman

Fall Junk Fishing Jam Starts at Norman

The third and final Toyota Series Eastern Division event is off and rolling this morning on Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C. While Norman has hosted a couple of past Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events and is a popular stop for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League, this is the first time the Toyota Series has taken a crack at the large Carolina lake. READ MORE »

Major League Fishing and FLW Unify as One Brand

Major League Fishing and FLW Unify as One Brand

TULSA, Okla. – To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF... READ MORE »

Simpson University Earns Win at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Clear Lake

Simpson University Earns Win at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Clear Lake

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The Simpson University team of Luke Blanchard of Vancouver, Washington, and Nathan Phillips of Kelseyville, California, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Clear Lake event Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces. The victory advanced... READ MORE »

Lake County High School Fishing Club Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open

Lake County High School Fishing Club Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The Lake County High School duo of Payton Lyndall and Tyler Brant brought five bass to the scale Sunday weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces to win the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open in Clearlake, California... READ MORE »

Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open

Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open

EDGEWOOD, Md. – Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School duo of Ty Stroup and Daniel Walter grinded out three fish Saturday weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces to win a very tough FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open event in Edgewood, Maryland. The event was... READ MORE »

Adrian College Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Chesapeake Bay

Adrian College Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Chesapeake Bay

EDGEWOOD, Md. – The Adrian College team of Grant Gallagher of Fremont, Ohio, and Ben Statly of Fenton, Michigan, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at the Chesapeake Bay event Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces. The victory earned the Adrian bass club... READ MORE »