PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Weather-wise, the FLW Tour Major event on Lake Champlain will be remembered as a meteorological sandwich with a couple days of sunny, windy conditions slapped between two slices of calm, cloudy dampness. Indeed, the darker skies and likelihood of rain has returned for day four, but that’ll only do good things for the final field of 10 pros.
For one thing, it’ll be a little cooler today without the constant solar harshness that has befallen the last two days. Also, in lower light conditions, bass tend to roam more and drop their apprehension level a notch or two. Therefore, if the clouds do overtake the sky, as forecasts predict, the second half of the day should offer stellar opportunities.
Castrol pro David Dudley, who yesterday secured his third Angler of the Year title and became FLW’s first back-to-back points champion, has led the event since day one. With a three-day total of 58-8, he’s been targeting largemouth in the lake’s north end and he’s confident his spots will deliver again today.
“These fish typically bite all the time; rain, sleet, snow or shine,” Dudley said. “That’s what makes this lake awesome – the fish always bite. So I’m going to stick with the game plan I’ve been doing.”
Trailing the lead by 2 pounds, 2 ounces is Dudley’s good friend and staunch rival, Jacob Powroznik. The two clearly feed off of one another’s competiveness with a good-natured camaraderie, as evidenced in their dual morning interview during which FLW TV host Jason Harper had to referee an impromptu bout of tossing plastic worm chunks at one another.
Such levity only serves to strengthen the bond of competitors linked by mutual respect. “With anything in life, if you want to get better you have to compete against somebody who’s equal or better than you. Me and (Jacob) drive one another. For him to win, I don’t want him to, but if he does, I reckon I’ll be happy. But I’d be happy to beat him just as much as anybody else.”
Powroznik shoots back with this perspective on Dudley’s persistence: “He’s like a swarm of gnats – everywhere you go, he keeps annoying you.”
Okay then, well Powroznik’s also very optimistic about today’s potential. He’ll return to the lake’s southern end and fish the shallow grass of Ticonderoga. He has a handful of baits in mind, but his primary weapon will be a homemade chatterbait fitted with a white Lake Fork Live Magic Shad. On day two, Powroznik added a chunky smallmouth to his limit when he found a school of brown fish under a sailboat. The smallies are probably still there, but he’s keeping this only as a bonus option if his day has already gone well.
“If I have a pretty good bag, on the way back, I might stop in there for about five minutes, or so but I think I’m just going to stay down there as long as I can because you never know when a 5- or 6-pound (largemouth) is going to bite,” he said.
Starting the day in third place, Tennessee pro Andy Morgan fished Ti the first two days, but he caught his biggest sack – 20-2 – on day three after switching to the lake’s north end. He’ll fish north again today and plan on burning up the bank with a Spro frog and occasionally flip any attractive cover he comes across. In the fourth-place spot, Joe Thompson will be looking to improve his position by fishing a swim jig with a hefty trailer down in Ti.
Fifth-place pro Ron Shuffield hopes to continue his course of improvement (36th on day one, 13th day two) in the final round. He’ll also run to Ti and fish a weightless Texas-rigged Senko and a ¾-ounce jig. Shuffield said his key strategy point will be to focus his effort on specific areas of highest potential.
“The first day, I tried to cover a lot of water and hit everything I could because I knew it was going to be crowded,” he said. “That really wasn’t the right thing to do. I noticed by the second morning that I needed to slow down, so I slowed down and three a Senko almost exclusively. I’d occasionally pick up a flipping stick with a ¾-ounce jig and pitch in isolated mats, but slowing down with the Senko was the key. I basically did that all day yesterday and I’ll do that again today.”
During FLW Tour competition, pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Anglers are permitted to weigh in their best five bass each day. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. The full field competes on days one and two. After Friday’s day-two weigh-in, both the co-angler and pro fields will be cut to the top 20. On day three, the co-angler champion will be crowned based on the field’s three-day accumulated weight. Also on Saturday, the pro field will be cut down to the top 10 pros. The remaining pro field will then compete during Sunday’s final round of tournament action. The pro winner ultimately will be determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.
The tournament will feature a full field featuring top awards of up to $125,000 in the Pro Division and up to $25,000 in the Co-angler Division.
FLW Tour competitors will also be vying for valuable standings points in an effort to qualify for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. This year’s Cup will be in Duluth/Gainesville, Ga., Aug. 9-12 on Lake Lanier and anglers could win as much as $500,000 – the sport’s biggest award. Anglers are also vying for the prestigious 2012 Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title that will be determined by the most points accumulated over the six FLW Tour Majors.
Tourney Expo and Logistics
Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the Plattsburgh State Field House located at 167 Rugar St. in Plattsburgh beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at the Plattsburgh State Field House on Sunday from noon-4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Sunday the first 300 children 14 and under who are accompanied by an adult will receive a free rod and reel combo. Also on Sunday one lucky fishing fan will win a Can-Am ATV. Both giveaways are courtesy of Fox 44, the Press Republican and WOKO. The ATV giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday’s final weigh-in to win.
Coverage of the Lake Champlain tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Aug. 26 from 1 – 2 p.m. ET. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
Bass-fishing fans take note
Want to watch the weigh in live but can’t make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today’s opening-round weigh in.
Daily on-the-water coverage will also be available online at FLWOutdoors.com.
Sunrise: 5:12 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 68 degrees
Expected high temperature: 78 degrees
Water temperature: 74-75 degrees
Wind: NE 5-7 mph
Humidity: 50 percent
Day’s outlook: Cloudy early with afternoon rain