With the top 10 confined to the St. Lawrence River for the final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at the 1000 Islands, the fishing was much tougher than days one and two. That didn’t matter much to Kyle Hall, who weighed another 18 pounds, 10 ounces to finish off a wire-to-wire win with a total of 68-11. Presented by Navionics, the last event of the Northern Division season paid the young Rio Vista, Texas, pro $45,700 for his efforts.
Hall’s summer vacation up north couldn’t have worked out any better. After fishing in the Bassmaster Open a month ago at Champlain, his friend Dakota Ebare convinced him to stay north and hop in the FLW Series event. Now, the 1000 Islands is his new favorite place.
“I can’t believe that happened,” Hall says of the win. “I put a lot of work in for this tournament and it feels awesome to win.”
While Hall’s extended time in the north country no doubt helped him find the juice, it was also pivotal for learning how the fish set up in the river.
“I put most of my time in on the river,” says Hall. “I knew there would likely be a day like today where the lake would be off-limits and I really thought the river was more consistent. I could get bit on the lake and it would be a 5-pounder, but the rest of the school would leave. On the river, I could catch a 5-pounder and there’d be more with it.
“Learning how the fish would set up in the current was huge,” continues Hall. “I found a school of fish in practice and I would go back to them every day to see how they set up in different wind directions and different weather. It showed me they wouldn’t leave the spot, but they may slide deeper or shallower.”
Current breaks along the main river channel in anywhere from 20 to 40 feet were the deal for Hall. He fished about 20 different breaks, sometimes hitting certain ones multiple times throughout the day. Additionally, he says he hit at least 15 spots in the lake on day two – which can be chalked up to nerves getting the best of him.
“I really caught most of my fish within two miles of Clayton,” explains Hall. “I probably didn’t have to run to the lake yesterday, but I panicked because I caught all my fish by 9:30 on the first day and didn’t have one by 10:30 [yesterday]. So, I went to the lake where I knew some lived that I could probably catch.
“Today, I actually caught most of my fish from a new spot I’ve never even fished before. It looked good on the map, so I went there and caught some good ones.”
One drop-shot rod is really all Hall needed this week. A Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flatnose Minnow (natural shad) with a 5/8-ounce weight was the ticket most of the week. He did have to switch to a 1-ounce weight today due to wind.
“When you got the bait in front of one they’d eat it 75 percent of the time,” he says. “Being able to read my graphs and know where to drop my bait when I marked one was a big thing. I’d flip upstream 20 feet when I marked one was I was drifting past it and then I’d drag it to the fish.
“Another big key to that was using my Power-Pole Drift Paddles to help pull me downstream, especially in the wind. When you lower the Poles all the way down in that current, you’d still move downstream even in wind like we had today.”
A lot of anglers mentioned pressure leading to a tougher bite in general this week. Hall felt much the same.
“I got more bites when the boat wasn’t right on top of the fish. They have had so much pressure in the last few weeks that I think being off them just a bit made a difference.”
With a nice check to add to the bank and confidence through the roof, Hall will point the truck toward the Lone Star State soon.
“I’ll probably head home in the next few days, but I’m going to go eat a good meal tonight and I’ll probably head back out fishing again tomorrow. It’s just too much fun.”
Top 10 pros
1. Kyle Hall – Rio Vista, Texas – 68-11 (15) – $45,700
2. Carl Jocumsen – Queensland, Australia – 65-9 (15) – $17,500
3. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ontario – 64-6 (15) – $13,100
4. AJ Slegona – Pine Bush, N.Y. – 61-13 (15) – $11,000
5. Curtis Richardson – Belleville, Ontario – 60-15 (15) – $10,000
6. Matt Becker – Finleyville, Penn. – 60-12 (15) – $8,800
7. John Hunter – Shelbyville, Ky. – 57-15 (15) – $7,400
8. Austin Felix – Eden Prairie, Minn. – 57-12 (15) – $6,400
9. Jesse Spellicy – Gouverneur, N.Y. – 54-10 (13) – $5,400
10. Joey Ford – Bowmanville, Ontario – 53-7 (12) – $4,200