PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Cool, clear and highly productive – that's the outlook for a field of FLW EverStart Series Northern Division anglers seeking to fill out their limits with the plump largemouth and smallmouth bass roaming Lake Champlain.
Blessed with natural Adirondack beauty, this long and relatively narrow lake straddling the New York/Vermont border boasts great numbers of green and brown fish – both of which reach tournament-winning proportions. Smallies roam the entire lake with their greatest concentrations in the mid- to upper regions. Dependable largemouth action seems more polarized in the northern bays and Champlain's narrow bottom end known as Ticonderoga, or just "Ti."
Day one sees the onset of a mild cold front, which will bring clear, sunny conditions and keep daytime highs in the mid 70's. Water temperature won't fall enough to disrupt the strong summer bite. In fact, Virginia pro Jacob Powroznik expects to see the action improve.
"I think this will make them bite," said Powroznik, who finished second three weeks ago at the FLW Tour Major event on Champlain. "In the summertime, it's kind of like us – when it's really hot, we get kinda lazy, but when it gets a little cooler, everybody wants to get out and play around."
Good thing for anglers is that today's mild winds will allow everyone to run wherever they want to go. Many will make the long southward run to Ti where they will work the shallow grass for largemouth. Boat traffic might become an issue for some, but those who quickly dial in productive patches will build competitive weights in short order.
Florida pro Matt Greenblatt agrees: "They've been absolutely tearing it up down there. A 20-pound bag is the standard down there right now. I would not be surprised at all to see a 24-26-pound bag come out of there."
Powroznik will start off cranking the outer edges of grass beds and then move in closer with flipping baits once the rising sun pushes the fish tighter to cover. Greenblatt plans on covering ground with a chatterbait and then working the tops of grass mats with a Spro Bronzeye frog.
"Throwing that frog, your hookup ratio is not that great, but it'll stop your heart – it's a lot of fun," Greenblatt said.
At the other end of the lake, Ranger pro David Wolak will also target largemouth, despite having earned a sixth-place finish at the recent FLW Tour event with those feisty brown fish. As Wolak notes, lake conditions have changed in the past couple of weeks, so he'll adjust accordingly.
"The grass stage has changed, the water has gotten warmer, but it has also dropped about another foot (since the Tour event)," he said. "This time of year in the Northeast sees radical differences from the end of June to the middle of July. It doesn't seem like a long period of time, but those (largemouth) really get established in their summer patterns and bite like a summer bite.
"In June, they're coming off the beds and they're really slow. In July, they tend to start chasing and hitting more fast-moving reaction baits. I'll be fishing a chatterbait and a Title Shot Jig. With the cold front today, it might be a difficult to get bit on the chatterait, so I'll probably fish more precise casting presentations with the jig than horizontal presentations.
"I can still catch smallmouth, but a lot of those shallow ones I was catching (in the Tour event) have scattered, so I'm going to target more largemouth. They're beyond their post-spawn stage and biting a little better now."
Maine pro Troy Garrison enjoyed good largemouth productivity during most of his practice days, but finding a solid smallmouth bite late in the game has led him to revamp his tournament strategy. He'll also stay north and fish a chatterbait early for the morning largemouth window and then go to work on his smallmouth by dropshotting a Jackall Crosstail Shad.
Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a Ranger Z518 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 the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., Nov. 1-4.
The EverStart Series tournament on Lake Champlain is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau.
Sunrise: 5:27 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 60 degrees
Expected high temperature: 74 degrees
Water temperature: 76 degrees
Wind: NNE 5-10
Humidity: 20 percent
Day’s outlook: Sunny and calm