Days one and two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Power-Pole on Lake Champlain have featured more smallmouths weighed than ever, and it appears that there’s at least a chance the eventual winner will end up weighing 15 brown bass for the title.
Though the weather was bad for sight-fishing on day two, most of the pros still factored at least a few sighted bass into their bags. Saturday is forecast to be warm and clear with a stiff, but not overpowering west wind. It could be prime for another day of smallmouths and beds.
2. Chris Adams – Shrewsbury, Vt. – 36-8 (10)
Just 2 ounces off the lead, Chris Adams is threatening for his biggest win yet on Champlain. The Vermont angler always does well, but he’s been on fire this spring, with an ABA win (with five smallmouths) already under his belt.
Like many, Adams is sight-fishing for almost all his smallmouths, but today he encountered some that didn’t want to bite right away.
“I got to the point where I had to go get some fish to get in the cut,” says Adams. “The ones I weighed all bit fast, but the ones I need wouldn’t bite.”
Adams has been rationing his fish pretty closely, and he’s got a lot of potential keepers on the list for day three.
“I’ve got dozens, but not dozens that are 3 1/2 plus,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of 3s, and then a couple giants I can’t get to bite.”
Adams thinks part of the problem with his smallmouths is that the dark conditions have forced him to get right on top of the beds to see them, and the fish turn wary when he gets so close. With better weather, he hopes to be a little stealthier tomorrow.
3. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 36-0 (10)
Lurking 10 ounces out of first place, Ron Nelson is the only pro in the tip five who has weighed any largemouths so far.
On day one, Nelson started with smallmouths and added some largemouths later. On day two, he did the opposite, ditching the smallmouth sight-fishing early and heading to his largemouth grounds. Then, with better weather in the afternoon, the Michigan pro culled twice with smallies caught off beds.
Nelson says the largemouth bit a lot better today, and though he caught a few prespawn fish in practice, he’s targeting spawning and postspawn fish now. He says he found a point with a bunch of fresh smallmouth beds late in the afternoon, so he’s got fish to go to on day three.
“I’m not excited about tomorrow as far as having a chance to win,” says Nelson. “But today I thought I was going to have 15 pounds and I had 17. So, no complaints here. I’ll definitely keep trying to catch both [largemouths and smallmouths]. I’m just going fishing.”
4. Neil Farlow – Niagara Falls, Ontario – 35-6 (10)
If you caught 18 pounds on day one, odds are you caught 17 pounds on day two. Neil Farlow joined that crew, and actually moved up one spot to fourth.
Fishing from Plattsburgh south, Farlow is running a big Ranger Z522D, so the morning waves posed no issue for him, but the clouds and rain did.
“I’m sight-fishing, but I couldn’t see anything this morning,” says Farlow. “I stopped on two fish and fished them for 30 minutes and couldn’t see them to even know if they were there. I stopped on them on the way back, and they were there.”
Farlow says he caught about 20 bass on day one and 15 on day two, but could basically only catch cookie cutters today.
5. Thomas Lavictoire Jr. – West Rutland, Vt. – 35-5 (10)
Like Adams, Tom Lavictoire Jr. is a Champlain hammer who’s dialed in on the bedding smallmouths. He weighed just under 17 pounds on day two, falling a little shy of his personal projection.
“Today went good,” says Lavictoire. “I fished pretty hard up until about 11 o’clock. I actually thought I had a little more, but I had a couple of thin ones in there. I’m managing everything. If you don’t manage and burn through them then you won’t do well if you do make the third day.”
Lavictoire says he’s got plenty of smallmouths in the tank for the final day, and was able to find even more in the afternoon after he stopped fishing and started looking. Even so, he’s at least a touch worried the top-end size needed to challenge for his second Costa FLW Series win on Champlain isn’t there.
“I planned on smallmouth the whole entire time, but to win I might have to find a big largemouth.”