The Bassmaster Elite Series visited Lake Champlain in upstate New York this past week, one of the most popular fisheries in the United States amongst our field of anglers because of the excellent bass fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. I had been excited for this event for months because it has an incredible population of smallmouths. After some tough stops on the schedule this year I was excited to fish somewhere we were all but guaranteed to catch a bunch of fish.
The circuit visited Champlain last year in late July and I had a good tournament, eventually finishing 15th. This time around, with a little more knowledge of the lake I was able to find some good areas during the three day practice period. What I learned was that if it was sunny, calm and hot, you could catch plenty of big smallmouths in shallow water and if it got cloudy, windy and cool, you could make contact with more fish out in a little bit deeper water so I had some good options heading in to the tournament.
The first two days went really well and I was able bring in around 20 pounds of smallmouths each day, good enough for 5th place. My confidence was growing each day and I felt like I had a good shot at winning the tournament. On day three we finally got the nice sunny weather that I was hoping for and I was excited heading out in the morning. Unfortunately I lost a few fish, had some missed opportunities and was only able to boat 16 pounds, eventually dropping me to 14th place, missing the top ten cut to fish the final day.
My goal heading into the tournament was to have a solid event and gain some points in the angler of the year standings towards qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic next year. Before this event I was a couple spots outside the Classic cut so finishing the season strong was important. My finish bumped me up to around 35th in the standings (the top 40 qualify) so I’m back on the right side of the cut line. I will call it a good week.
We have one event left on the season this week, just up the road on the St. Lawrence River. It is the third year in a row that we are fishing the river and it’s one of my favourite place places to fish. It is one of the best big smallmouth fisheries in the World, with five pounders quite common, it’s very scenic and it’s a nice part of the country, just across the river from Eastern Ontario.
I have finished 12th each of the past two visits to the St. Lawrence so I have some high expectations this week. Again, my goal is to finish the season on a good note and qualify for the Classic, which I will do with a solid finish. It will be a fun tournament to follow with some giant catches of smallmouths sure to be caught. Last year, there were 27 pound limits caught and the big fish of the tournament was a smallmouth over eight pounds.
The tournament starts Thursday and runs through Sunday, you can follow along throughout the event on the Bassmaster website.