Walker powers to Day 1 lead with 21-4 at Lake Champlain - Major League Fishing

Walker powers to Day 1 lead with 21-4 at Lake Champlain

Image for Walker powers to Day 1 lead with 21-4 at Lake Champlain
Jacob Walker dropped some serious meat on the scale on Day 1. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Jacob Walker.
June 15, 2024 • Jody White • Invitationals

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – So far, so good on Lake Champlain at Tackle Warehouse Invitationals Stop 5 Presented by 7 Brew Coffee.

Day 1 of the event was windy – so much so that few ventured very far south of Malletts Bay– but the results showed that the bass on Champlain are alive and well. Though the smallmouth spawn was not as major a factor as it theoretically should be, the pros proved that there are plenty of ways to catch a bass. Notably, though not the case for the leader, quite a few largemouth hit the scale. With good weather for a run to Ticonderoga in the forecast for tomorrow, those numbers could increase on Day 2.

In the lead, Jacob Walker sacked up 21 pounds, 4 ounces, fishing exclusively for smallmouth. Behind him, Kurt Mitchell and Aspen Martin both crossed into 20-pound territory, and nine others caught something in the 19-pound range. So, the rest of the way looks like a horse race.

No first-time issues for Walker

Jacob Walker went to work early on the Champlain smallies. Photo by Jody White

Raised on flipping a jig in Alabama, Walker is no slouch with forward-facing sonar, and he made it work to perfection today. Beaming up a big limit pretty quickly, Walker looked like a local in his first trip to Champlain.

‘It was very fun,” Walker said. “I caught a lot of big bass and I’m ready to go catch more big bass tomorrow.”

According to Walker, practice was good, but 21 pounds wasn’t on the menu – things really went well today.

“I was confident that I could catch 18 pounds today,” he said. “I didn’t really fish my areas super hard, but I knew I could catch at least 18, which I would have been happy with. I was fortunate today to catch the bigger-than-average fish – hopefully tomorrow it’s like that again. I don’t think 20 pounds will be a problem, and I know I can catch 18. I can survive tomorrow for sure.”

Fishing without too much competition around, Walker has been able to trigger fish to bite consistently, which not everyone can say.

“A bigger bait, a bigger profile, is part of it,” he said. “And I think I’m just around the right quality. They just weigh a little bit more than the average in the couple areas I’m fishing.”

With calmer water and live cameras with all the leaders, we’ll have a much better read on trends tomorrow. Today, the fishing was a blast, and Champlain appears to be living up to the hype as usual.

Mitchell makes hay with largemouth

Kurt Mitchell is no stranger to Champlain largemouth. Photo by Rob Matsuura

Contrasting Walker in just about every way, Mitchell, a Champlain veteran, rode a shallow, largemouth-centric pattern into second place. Catching the day’s Berkley Big Bass on a War Panda Baits Nasty Nugget glide bait (indeed, all his fish on the glide), Mitchell is doing it his way so far.

“I don’t know if you watched the scoreboard, but I sucked this morning,” Mitchell said. “I lost one that was like 5, I broke a big one off on a jig, I lost two more fish that were like 3 1/2. I caught the 5-4 in the morning, but that current didn’t really start moving until later in the day. I was throwing the glide bait on every little current break there is, and I ended up catching three big ones later in the day.”

Weighing only one smallmouth, which was his smallest fish, Mitchell thinks he’ll need to adapt for Day 2. While today was blustery, to say the least, Champlain is supposed to look like a mill pond on Sunday, which he thinks will put the kibosh on the glide bite.

“The big ones on the cribs and stuff, I don’t really think you can catch them on anything but a glide bait or a swimbait,” Mitchell said. “I think tomorrow I’m probably going to fish docks all day. I had a good practice on docks and stuff – I’m pretty sure I can catch a decent bag on them.”

Fishing Clash Angler of the Year update

Alec Morrison is holding steady at home. Photo by Rob Matsuura

Heading into the event, Jake Lawrence had a slim lead in the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year rankings, and after Day 1, he’s sitting in 29th, with room to move massively in any direction considering how tight the weights are. Ordinarily, that would be excellent, but Alec Morrison started the event in fourth place with 19-14, and looks to be in the groove on his home pond. As of now, Morrison has taken the unofficial lead for AOY – with only the Top 30 fishing on Monday, tomorrow will be a key day for the race.

Top 10 pros

1. Jacob Walker – 21 – 4 (5) 
2. Kurt Mitchell – 20 – 7 (5)  
3. Aspen Martin – 20 – 2 (5)
4. Alec Morrison – 19 – 14 (5)                 
5. Troy Stokes – 19 – 7 (5)      
5. Kyle Cortiana – 19 – 7 (5)
5. Nick LeBrun – 19 – 7 (5)   
5. Brett Carnright – 19 – 7 (5)               
9. Evan Barnes – 19 – 6 (5)   
9. Jack Daniel Williams – 19 – 6 (5)

Complete results

Follow along

You can watch the action from Stop 5 Presented by 7 Brew on Lake Champlain unfold live Saturday through Monday on MLFNOW! from 7 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. ET. on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app, and stay locked to the website for on-the-water galleries, daily stories and more.