Day one of the Costa FLW Series presented by Evinrude on the 1000 Islands turned into a good day for fishing, but it sure started out rough. Folks heading out into Lake Ontario from the St. Lawrence River had to navigate waves commonly described as 7-footers, which made many morning runs long and uncomfortable. Despite that, plenty of the pros did a lot of damage in the lake.
Leading the way, Cory Johnston mixed some fish from the river and the lake, but even he caught the majority of his fish from the big pond. With strong north or northeast winds in the forecast for day two, the top angler will likely be presented with yet another weather-related challenge.
2. Kurt Mitchell – Milford, Del. – 22-14 (5)
Kurt Mitchell went all-in on the lake on day one, but couldn’t even get to his best water.
“I was gonna make a huge run. I forget what the island was out there, but I got out of the river and there were, like, 7-footers,” says Mitchell. “But, I had this one area I caught a bunch of threes [3-pounders], and one 4-9 in practice.”
So, Mitchell peeled off before getting way into the lake and instead opted to fish a little closer to the mainland. There, drifting over a deep point in 7-footers, he landed more than 25 keepers on the day.
“There are so many fish there. If I could keep the boat still I could sit there and probably catch 20 [pounds]. But, you hook one and then you get off it, or you hook one and they move again.”
Mitchell says he “video game” fished by looking down at his electronics and vertical fishing for most of the day. He was pleasantly surprised by the size he was able to wrangle from what was admittedly a secondary spot.
3. Joseph Fonzi – Gasport, N.Y. – 22-8 (5)
Joseph Fonzi runs a guide service on Lake Erie, so he’s got plenty of big-water experience. That came in handy on day one as he plunged his deep-V Ranger through the waves to get to his fishing grounds.
Fonzi says he caught about 15 fish and culled three times, and didn’t spend all that much time in the lake. The New Yorker is fishing deeper than most, and says he plucked most of his from about 38 feet of water.
“My goal was as soon as I had all 4-pounders I was leaving the spot,” says Fonzi. “There aren’t that many around there, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
4. Cal Climpson – Sharon, Ontario – 22-6 (5)
Cal Climpson finished in the top 10 last year at the 1000 Islands, and he seems to be about as dialed in on the river and the western end of Ontario as you can be.
“I fished both, but all my weight came from the lake today,” says Climpson, who runs a Ranger 522D for the big water. “It [the boat] made a huge difference today. The waves were 5- to 6-footers today, and I had to putt along, but without that big boat I couldn’t have even gone to where I went.”
Once he got to his spot, Climpson says he struck fast, catching seven or eight keepers in a handful of drops under the trolling motor in about 25 feet of water before leaving it to rest and heading back.
5. Jason Putman – Cicero, N.Y. – 21-11 (5)
Jason Putman says he grew up fishing Chaumont Bay (just south of the mouth of the St. Lawrence) for walleyes, and loves fishing the western end of Lake Ontario. As such, he was happy to head out into the big waves on day one.
“I went through two of my five spots, and I didn’t even touch my other three,” says Putman. “I was doing a little bit of shallow stuff, but mostly tubes deeper. I had some shallow stuff in 10 to 15, and I figured with the wind they would be good, but they kind of shut up today.”
Putman says he burned an even 48 gallons of gas on day one, and if the weather is rough again he’s ready to burn about the same on day two.