PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — The smallmouth bite, while mostly lacking in weight for Elite Series anglers this week, has been among the most consistent themes at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin weigh-in.
Almost to the point where it would seem like anyone could go out on a rocky point and catch a limit of three pounders.
Saturday told a different story as angler after angler among those who had committed to fishing for brown bass saw their weights drop. Steve Daniel, who was fourth after Day Two, Rick Clunn (5th), Ken Cook (17th) and Kevin VanDam (18th) all plummeted as their fish turned tentative under Saturday's calm conditions.
"Every day's different with these smallmouths," said Cook, who fell to 24th. "We had a bunch of big fish follow the bait today. It's just that their attitude wasn't very good today."
Daniel and Clunn dropped precipitously — 45th and 26th respectively — after harboring some hope hope that their consistent pattern could carry them should something unforeseen take place with the far-traveling largemouth hunters.
VanDam, who dropped from 18th to 27th, is perhaps known best for his prowess with a jerkbait on any body of water with healthy smallmouth populations, but he said this morning's weather change really put a damper on the fish's mood.
"When you throw (a jerkbait) way out there and after two jerks the fish nearly takes the rod out of your hand, you know they're really attacking," VanDam said. "We had that big front come through yesterday morning with a lot of wind and that really got them going. This morning you really had to talk them into it and when you have to do that, they don't get hooked as
"They're really good at figuring out the best time to really feed heavily and this morning just wasn't one of those times."
VanDam says the best strategy to go with on days when the fish are simply following a fast-moving lure such as a jerkbait in clear water — where the fish can see the angler as well as the angler can see the fish — is to fish more of a finesse bait, like a tube. But that's not an option he had the luxury of selecting."My fish were just too scattered for me to do that," VanDam said. "And when you have to stay with a lure that covers a lot of ground and make them bite, they tend to nip at it and not get hooked good."