PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – On a day that saw a fair amount of leaderboard turnover, Wayne Vaughan stayed on top of the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. event on Lake Champlain. Weighing 20 pounds, 4 ounces today, Vaughan totaled 41-8 and will take a 13-ounce lead over Joseph Thompson into the final day. Behind Vaughan, the Top 25 is absolutely stacked, with the entire Top 10 over 40 pounds for two days and 25th place less than 4 pounds back of the lead.
Catching his fish on everything from a drop-shot to a topwater on Day 2, Vaughan has stayed pretty versatile and old-school in his approach. Compared to the legions of pros chasing bait and relying on forward-facing sonar, the Virginian’s approach to the week is a breath of fresh air if you’re looking for a different way to catch smallmouth.
“I didn’t expect my tournament to be that good up to this point,” Vaughan said. “I’m just out there fishin’. I didn’t expect what I caught yesterday; I really didn’t expect to catch that today. I’m just bouncing around, fishing what I feel like I need to be doing. Hopefully I can do that again tomorrow.”
When Vaughan won at the St. Lawrence in 2019, he was dailed to the max and running a pattern all along the river. Now, he’s perhaps not quite to that level, but he’s got a handful of deep-ish areas pretty locked down.
“I’ve got a really good idea here now, since I’ve done it for two days,” Vaughan added. “Some of the fish I’ve caught here, I’ve got a really good feel on what they’re doing. I just don’t know how many are there. That’s the problem. I don’t know what’s left in those areas.
“I had right at 20 pounds by about 10:30, so I kind of went looking around. I’ve got a couple deep spots, but the thing is, a lot of those fish are out there chasing bait. The scopin’ thing, in that rough water, I haven’t done it a lot, so it’s difficult for me. If they’ll set themselves up, I can catch them, but if they’re not, I’m not efficient at doing that. I need them to set up on something.”
Still, despite saying things are hard and not being sure of the quantity he’s got left, Vaughan is thinking about the win. Part of a travel crew that included JT Kenney and Bryan Thrift for years, Vaughan has a lot of memories on Champlain.
“When I knew I had 20 today, [winning] crossed my mind,” he admitted. “It’d mean a lot here. The last time we all got to travel together was here, when Glenn Browne was here, and when we all got home he found out he had cancer. This place means a lot to me. I really would love to win a tournament here. It’d mean a lot. there’s a lot of sentiment here.”
1. Wayne Vaughan – 41 – 08 (10)
2. Joseph Thompson – 40 – 11 (10)
3. Kurt Mitchell – 40 – 10 (10)
4. Kyle Hall – 40 – 10 (10)
5. Spencer Shuffield – 40 – 07 (10)
6. Brett Carnright – 40 – 05 (10)
7. Stephen Estes – 40 – 03 (10)
8. Bryan Labelle – 40 – 01 (10)
9. Henry Fristik – 40 – 01 (10)
10. Tyler Woolcott – 40 – 01 (10)