(Editor’s note: Veteran bass pro Dave Lefebre has agreed to take time to share his insights into each FLW Tour event of the 2012 season. After every event, Lefebre will give his thoughts on tournament strategy, winning techniques and other behind-the-scenes stories/information that is compelling to our readers. The following blog represents his seventh installment of the season. Lefebre ultimately finished the Lake Champlain event in 34th place with a two-day total of 34 pounds, 14 ounces and took home $8,546 in winnings).
We just wrapped up the last event of the 2012 FLW Tour Major season and it was a good one, as always. Lake Champlain kicked out her normal high weights and further solidified its reputation as a favorite destination for many of the pros, including myself.
I brought my family along and we even stole gramps and Anne’s mom for the 10-day trip. We rented a cabin at out favorite place, Marine Village, near Point Au Rouche, and everyone had a great time. Our cabin was right on the water in front of the beach – and with our small dock, it was perfect. Mitchell and I caught enough perch from that dock on Sunday to have a fish fry the night before we left. We can’t wait to go back.
Champlain treated me fairly well, but I obviously hoped to make the cut and fish all four days. It came down to making a bad call on the morning of day two, which probably cost me making the top-20 cut. I had spent the first practice day down south and the last two up north, and unfortunately I had awesome results on both ends. I would have been better off spending all three days on one end or the other, but instead I was scatter-brained going into the event. I went down south on day one because of my late boat draw and longer day, then on day two at the last minute I decided to run 30 miles north to start on a spot where I’d caught a 7 1/2-pounder in practice and had several other bites. I only had a small limit, so after an hour I made the call to hit the road to “Ti.” It was 108 miles to my next stop and, all in all, I put about 240 miles on my Mercury Optimax which has never missed a beat all season – I love it!
I managed to catch several 3-pound-class fish but just never got a big bite, similar to day one. In the end, the seemingly crazy decision to run south paid off though, as I was able to place 34th in the tournament and finish 11th in the AOY standings … whew! It’s been a rollercoaster ride season. After starting the year in 11th at Hartwell, I dropped way down only to fight my way all the way back to 11th, funny. However, I qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup next month on Lake Lanier, Ga., and also the Texas Bass Classic on Lake Conroe, Texas, in October, an event I won in 2009.
Well, Dudley secured the FLW Tour Angler of the Year again, but he had to make the first cut to 20 to get it done because Jacob P. wound up finishing second in the tournament. Dudley won of course, which was his second win out of the last three events … crazy good, he’s now ranked #1 in the world on BassRankings.com along with six other FLW Tour anglers in the top 10. I’m 9th.
The largemouth bite really dominated this event because we hit it so soon after the smallmouth spawn. The brown fish were scattered for the most part and not schooled up or even bulked up yet. Craig Dowling was the lone pro who didn’t weigh in a largemouth all week and he still made the cut – which was quite a feat this week for sure. A couple others in the top 10 had mixed bags, but most relied 100 percent on the green bass, including Dudley, Jacob P., Andy Morgan, Ron Shuffield, Roland Martin, Blake Nick and John Voyles. I saw every one of these guys during the event and believe me, it makes you sick to be around the right fish but not come away with a top 10.
I had two patterns down south, one involved milfoil and one was more rock related; Blake and Voyles were mainly around rock and the others stayed in the grass. The best baits around the rocky areas were swim jigs, vibrating jigs and square-billed crankbaits. The best baits in the grass were frogs, Senkos and flipping soft plastics and jigs – it’s really that simple. I know Dudley caught quite a few on a small worm and a spinning rod, but the majority of anglers were able to power-fish the entire event because of the lack of big smallmouth this year.
Because several guys were on those rocks, and Andy Morgan and another pro found my two best grass beds, I had to scramble fast. I ended up catching every fish I brought to the scales (all but one) from one spot that nobody was near. It was an area I hadn’t even checked in practice. I caught over 100 fish there over the course of two days and my arms and ribs are still sore from setting the hook so many times. I caught them all on a 9/16-ounce green pumpkin Tabu Jig with a Yamamoto Fat Baby Craw trailer. I bet I made the same long cast 1,000 times and if it weren’t located 80 miles from Plattsburgh, it would have been 1,000 more … fun stuff!
Our next event will be the championship, known as the Forrest Wood Cup, the absolute biggest event in professional bass fishing. I’m excited to have the next several weeks off to relax and prepare for it. It will be held on Georgia’s Lake Lanier, near Atlanta. To say it will be extremely hot and tough is a gross understatement. I just hope it gets hot and humid up in Erie so I can start preparing myself for my biggest obstacle. If you have some vacation time or no plans for that weekend, you wouldn’t be disappointed in attending the Cup as it’s quite a show. Hope to see you there!
To read more about Dave’s life on the road, check out On Tour With Dave and Anne, sponsored by Chevy. Throughout the 2012 FLW Tour season, Dave and his wife, Anne will be keeping a detailed blog of their experiences while traveling the country in their Chevy Trucks.