Perfect weather and another cavalcade of smallmouths were the primary features of day two of the Costa FLW Series event presented by Power-Pole on Lake Champlain. Hanging tight to the lead, Brett Carnright of Plattsburgh, N.Y., put 19 pounds, 8 ounces on the scale and now boasts a 40-pound, 15-ounce total. In second, last year’s champion Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Mich., weighed 19-13 for a total of 40-8 and sits just 7 ounces off the lead.
Through two days, Carnright has mined bedding smallmouths north of Plattsburgh to tally up an impressive 20-pound average. Nearly everyone in the top 10 is leaning hard on spawning brown fish, but Carnright has things a bit more to himself than some of the other pros.
“I am fishing a lot deeper than any boat I’ve seen around me,” says the local angler. “I had 10 fish that I went to catch, and all 10 of them have been there. I’m very lucky that none of them had been picked. Some of them are very easy to catch, and some have just swum up to the trolling motor to look at the boat. It’s definitely extraordinary, but you have to have something extraordinary to win these.”
Going into the final day, it will be tough for Carnright to stay on his pace, but he’s still got plenty of decent fish left on beds to catch.
“I feel pretty good about it,” relays Carnright, who only needed to catch seven keepers on day two. “I’m not sure exactly how heavy some of the fish are. I caught a few in practice and weighed ‘em, and I looked at three that are still there that are over 3 1/2 pounds. I found a lot of new ones today, I don’t know exactly how big those ones are, but it’s possible to catch another 19 or 20 pounds.”
Last year Carnright finished fifth in the opener on Champlain. Back in 2016, he finished seventh in the Bassmaster Open held in September. Now, he’s got a shot at easily the biggest win of his young career.
“It’s definitely going to be the most important day of my life tomorrow,” says Carnright. “Bar none. It’s going to be do or die, it could be a career-maker type of deal.”
Top 10 pros
1. Brett Carnright – Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 40-15 (10)
2. Ron Nelson – Berrien Springs, Mich. – 40-8 (10)
3. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 40-7 (10)
4. Cory Johnston – Cavan, Ont. – 39-11 (10)
5. Chris Adams – Shrewsbury, Vt. – 39-7 (10)
6. Ryan Latinville – Plattsburgh, N.Y. – 39-6 (10)
7. JJ Judd – Saint Albans, Vt. – 38-10 (10)
8. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ont. – 38-5 (10)
9. Bradley Dortch – Atmore, Ala. – 38-5 (10)
10. Joseph Wood – Westport, Mass. – 38-0 (10)
Hesson ahead on co-angler side
Chalking up a total of 33-2, Kevin Hesson of Seneca, Penn., is having a great week from the back of the boat on Champlain. With 16-1 behind Carl Jocumsen on day one and another 17-1 behind Chris Johnston on day two, Hesson has gotten a pair of dream draws.
“I basically went to school with bed-fishing with Chris Johnston,” Hesson says of his day. “It was an experience. We caught fish from the beginning and it was like that all day long. It was just bed after bed after bed.”
Hesson says he’s caught about 15 fish each day and is just throwing “standard smallmouth stuff.” If he can do it again tomorrow he might walk away with a big payday.