Day 1: The drive to Champlain is over 16 hours, so I have made it into a two day trip. I was in Alabama preparing for the BASS Open on Eufuala, which if had gone the duration, would have put me driving from there with little practice time. The Open was postponed due to Hurricane Ivan. A quick story on that, which is kinda funny now, I was doing my usual practice routine, which means spending all day on the water. On the day the tournament was officially postponed, it was raining, so I had my cell phone out of the weather. By late afternoon, I noticed the lake seemed very deserted. I went by the main ramp, it was empty. First I figured due to the dark clouds, everyone had decided to call it a day, but later my wife called and said there was a message on the home machine the tournament was off. I called my buddy Bump only to hear him laugh at me. He said "I'm already past Atlanta"!
Back to Champlain, Chris and I have decided to stop over way south of the official take off and practice the upper end of Champlain. This would be a long run from Plattsburgh, but the south end is better known as a largemouth fishery, with numerous bays of milfoil, chestnut and reeds. I will really have to feel I can catch them quickly and strong to make this run. As the day progresses, I do manage several largemouth, and alot of northern pike. One little area seems to be a key.
Day 2: Today will be spend up North, fishing for smallmouth. I have moved into a house for the week. I cannot say "thank you" enough to the local gentleman who is supplying us with the house. It sure beats a hotel. The house itself is very interesting, being a history lesson within it. Its an older local farm house full of neat stuff. The heat source is an old cast iron stove, the bathroom has a clawfoot tub, and the backyard is soybean fields while the front is a diary farm. Today, I will struggle to catch quality fish. In the past, it has always taken over 15 lbs a day to do well, so I know my target weights. I think I will go largemouth fishing tomorrow.
Day 3: What a change ! I left NC, it was in the 80's. Today there is a small frost on the boat, the leaves have already begun to show their fall colors. The wind will blow today too. On Champlain, the direction makes a difference, and today, it will be a hard north wind, bad. It makes getting around hard, and the day is not very productive.
Day 4: I can't decide if I want to go back south and try the largemouth or stay up north and key on the smallmouth. This will be a major factor in my tournament. I have alot to consider here. Its the last Northern event, and even though I have not fished all the tournaments, I find myself only 40 points out from qualifying for the Everstart Championship. This is important, because I must decide do I make a long run south, gamble on a big bag and bringing alot of negative possibilities into play. Such as possible break down, weather that will not allow me to get back, or just a short fishing time. If I stay close, I get more fishing time, but still with atleast a top 40 finish needed to qualify, no guarantees I can catch the size I need here.
But I have decided to stay close, see if I can figure out how to catch some better brown fish, and possibly a kicker or two largemouth. Today, I will find a little shoal that I feel can get a quick limit from, and with a little luck, a couple quality fish. Bad thing, if I do not get on it early, or to myself, it will be a gamble to run to. One thing I think alot do not realize is that there is so many decisions on the water to be made that can greatly effect your performance and outcome. My first day decisions will surely set the pace for my tournament.
Northern Everstart - Lake Champlain Sept 20 - 25
Tournament Day 1: The weather today is calling for a warming trend, from the small frosty start. I have decided to make the run south to the spot I found that can produce a quick limit. Even though I did not get the early take off number, I feel a quick limit will make me fish smarter today. My co-angler today is from Ga., a retired FBI agent who is basically up here on vacation. The 30 minute run is not bad, the wind is calm for Champlain, but the arrival is bad. Upon getting to my spot, there is already a competitor fishing the small hump. As I idle up to it, his co-angler is netting a fish. I will pull off to the side, hope that he will move on, contend for now to fish the back side out of his way. After about an hour there, my co-angler has landed one small keeper, and the other boat is still here. I have watched him land his limit. It becomes apparent he is here to stay. So off I go.
I have now moved back up north to my backup area with nothing in my livewell. Plan B starts out with a bang, having landed a nice smallie quickly, then another. So much for second guessing my decision to start south. The day will end with me securing a limit over 12 lbs, which puts me about middle the pack. They really catch them on Champlain again, which is no surprise, this place is a fish factory. We will weigh in almost 2000 pounds of fish today. Chris had decided to make the long run south, approximately 150 mile round trip. He catches a limit just a little better than me. Tomorrow, I will have to catch around 16 pounds or better if I am to jump into the money and more important, qualify for the Championship. I call home, my wife says we have another storm, Hurricane Jeanne looming off in the Atlantic. Man has this been one season to remember for storms. This will be the 7th named storm. She also tells me there is a major water leak in the house. Why does these things always happen when I am gone?
Tournament Day 2: Today's forecast is for a severe SW wind, bad on this lake. I feel for Chris making that long run south. I am going to abandon my little shoal south and start where I caught them yesterday. I just hope the size will get better. My co-angler today is from Ohio. The day starts off pretty quickly after arriving at my starting point. I manage to catch two just keeper smallmouth, as does my co-angler. He makes the comment he has never caught a limit on Champlain and would be pleased with that today.
Today, I will catch alot of fish, as does my co-angler, who easily has his limit. In fact, he has his limit before I. I figure I have about what I had yesterday, just need a big fish. I do get that big bite, only to see it wrap me up and then break off. What luck, since Champlain is mostly void of such hazards, just open water. After moving around, trying to locate that kicker, I settle in on one big shoal that has several boats working it off in the distance. Instantly, my co-angler catches a nice smallie and culls. I manage several fish that will not help, then get one that will increase my limit by ounces. While I am down in the boat culling, the wind has drifted me off my spot slightly. My co-angler makes the comment "Can you believe those guys"? Not knowing what he means, I look up only to see two boats have made a beeline to my little sweet spot and taken it over. I jump up on the trolling motor and head straight for them. I yell at them, "OK guys, you know that isn't right, moving in on me like that." One guy looks at me like he doesn't know what I'm talking about. I tell him that he was fishing down from me, I had sit on this one little spot, catching fish, in which he saw, and why he came over while I was culling. He quickly denies this, so I ask him why he suddenly come over in the exact spot I was fishing? He remarks, "Its a community hole". Boy, this makes me boil. Everything on Champlain is a community hole, its a public lake, but it doesn't make it right for you to come in on top of me. I tell him I saw him catch a couple fish down from me, did I move in on him? No. And if I had he would have jumped me too, but I know better. He goes on and on about how he doesn't know what I'm talking about but after making a couple cast past his boat, he finally moves on. The other guy who did the same thing had quietly moved on, knowing he was in the wrong. My co-angler makes the comment "justice would be catching a huge smallie next to his boat." I do manage to catch one next to him but it will not help. I don't know bout up north, but we don't fish like that down south, its called sportsmanship and ethics. My co-angler keeps saying, "I can't believe what that guy tried to do".
At weigh in, things are off alittle. Well, off for Champlain. My limit today will weigh over 13 lbs but unfortunately, I needed 16 or better. I will miss a check by 2 lbs and more importantly, miss the championship by around 40 points. I guess to be in a position to make the championship since I didn't fish all the series was good, but boy I would have loved to made it.
Tomorrow, I plan on taking the local gentleman that allows us to stay in his home fishing. I was also planning on taking out a friend of his, which called to say he is running late. Seems this guy is very famous, not only in Plattsburgh area, but worldwide. He is one of the Gibson Brothers from the bluegrass band the Gibson Brothers. Ironically, they currently have the #1 bluegrass cd in the land. They did give me a copy of it, and I will enjoy listening to it on the trip home. Very talented brothers. My buddies give me a hard time saying it will expand my musical horizons from that demonic rock I like. I agree, it has peaked my interest in bluegrass. Give them a look and listen at www.gibsonbrothers.com.