The Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Power-Pole on Lake Champlain was utterly dominated by spawning smallmouths. As such, finesse offerings ruled the day. If you’re ever on the hunt for a good bed bait for brown fish, just grab something that’s small and twitchy or swimmy.
1. Ron Nelson caught his smallies on a Poor Boy’s Erie Darter (watermelon gold) and a Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver rigged on a 1/4- or 3/16-ounce darter head. When he fished for largemouths, Nelson picked up a Yamamoto Senko and a jig.
2. Brett Carnright used the same thing he used last year on Champlain: a pearl white Berkley PowerBait Pro Twitchtail Minnow on a drop-shot with a 3/8-ounce weight.
3. For Austin Felix, the primary bait was a green pumpkin 3-inch Keitech Shad Impact on a drop-shot rig. He also mixed in a Ned rig and a tube.
4. This time, Chris Johnston was the best Johnston. He did his smallmouth work mostly with a Jackall Crosstail Shad on the good ol’ drop-shot.
5. Making the top 10 for the second year running, Chris Adams went to town with a variety of bed baits, but his primary was a 4-inch Keitech Swing Impact on a jighead.
7. Tubes were the name of the game for JJ Judd. His choice was a Bass Pro Shops Tender Tube on a 1/4-ounce head, and he alternated between bright and natural hues depending on the mood of the bass.
8. Cory Johnston took it on the chin on day three and elected to hold up a Heddon Rattlin’ Spook at weigh-in. Though he did catch a few on it, his bread-and-butter options for smallmouths were a drop-shot and a tube, and his largemouth baits were a Yamamoto Senko and a jig.
9. It’s pretty amazing, but Joseph Wood made it through the whole derby with just two Z-Man Trick ShotZ in the shiner color. He only lost one and rigged them on a drop-shot the whole time.
10. Bradley Dortch caught spawners with an Area 51 Pilot Fish and cruisers with a Table Rock-colored Jenko Fishing Pursues 110 suspending jerkbait.