The first Bassmaster Northern Open was marked by shifting winds which created ever-changing conditions. Elite Series pro Dave Wolak persevered and managed to put together three very respectable bags of bass to take the win by just over a pound.
Here, in his own words, is how he did it:
(1st Place — 54 pounds, 1 ounce)
I targeted largemouths in healthy, growing stands of vegetation — primarily a mix of milfoil and hydrilla. My best area was about the size of a football field in 6 feet of water with a hard bottom. It was located near a steep drop at the leading edge of a bay. The prevailing southern wind turned it into one of the better places I've ever fished.
Almost all the bass I caught from that spot were holding on clumps of three milfoil stalks with well-defined canopies. They were hitting a jig as it fell. I'd let it freefall straight down in the middle of the stalks without any horizontal movement. If they didn't grab it immediately, I moved on.
When the wind was blowing out of the north, my grass bite shut down completely. I moved to a more secluded area where I found a mat that had blown in against a stand of reeds in extremely shallow water — less than a foot deep. The spot was full of bass. I weighed in almost 20 pounds from that one little area. All I did was punch through the mat and hold on. It was incredible.
My bait was a 1/2-ounce Fin-tech Title Shot jig with a green pumpkin barbwire pattern skirt. I used a green pumpkin Yum Craw Papi for a trailer. I pitched and flipped my bait with a 7-foot, 6-inch Pinnacle Perfecta Tournament Class light flipping stick. My reel was a Pinnacle Scion (6.2:1 gear ratio) spooled with 56-pound-test Sunline braid.
The lesson I was reminded of on Lake Champlain is to observe everything and pay attention to the details. The bass were not holding on vegetation. They were holding on healthy, green growing mixes of milfoil and hydrilla. Anything with brown or slime in it was a total nonproducer.
And, when the wind shifted to the north, you had to move. It completely shut down the grass bite, and I mean right now. Any hope of catching them was gone. It was move or lose.