CELEBRATION, Fla. — The Bassmaster Elite Series pros return July 12-15 to Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Lake Champlain for the Champion's Choice event and hope to experience the same great fishing action they had at last year's Elite event.
It's always a good bet that Champlain will provide anglers a multitude of options and the chance at some sizable limits.
The basic foundation of the Elite Series involves combining the nation's best anglers with the country's top bass lakes at prime times of the year. Few lakes epitomize that better than Lake Champlain in the summertime. The sixth-largest freshwater lake in the United States is a lock to create excitement among the Elite pros and fishing fans.
"I really don't know anything about the lake conditions, but I'm going to say it's going to be awesome because it always is," said Kevin VanDam, the leader in the lucrative Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. He finished ninth in last year's tournament.Lake Champlain begins on the Canadian border near Quebec and stretches 110 miles south to the Ticonderoga area. In the process, it splits New York and Vermont by 12 miles at its widest point, covers more than 300,000 surface acres and has a maximum depth of about 400 feet. Most of its 585 miles of picturesque shoreline remains largely undisturbed by developers.The big lake is loaded with quality-sized smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Last July, veteran Denny Brauer took advantage of uncharacteristically high water to catch 80 pounds, 3 ounces, of shallow-water largemouth — an unusual winning pattern since smallmouth catches usually prevail in tournaments on Champlain.Elite Series Jon Bondy of Canada looks for a similar situation to occur this time around.
"The water was high last year," he said. "I was up there more than a month ago and it's really high again. I heard that they had been getting a lot of rain up there. I don't know what's going to happen, but you can pretty much factor in the largemouth bite again."Considering Brauer's victory pattern and conditions this year that likely will be similar to last year, even VanDam might abandon targeting his beloved smallmouth."If the water's up, it will probably be a big-time largemouth deal again," he said. "I'm tired of getting beat by those largemouth."Bondy, who predicts that it will take another 80 pounds to win if shallow largemouth dominate, hopes that the offshore smallmouth bite will be a factor.
"It's probably going to be largemouth," he said. "I'm hoping that even if it is high there's still smallmouth to be caught. There's a lot of largemouth water, but if everybody's doing it, it kind of narrows it down."
The daily launches and weigh-ins at Plattsburgh Boat Basin at5 Dock Street are open to the public. The launches begin at 5:30 a.m. ET.; the weigh-ins are at 3 p.m.Fishing fans can catch the action on The Bassmasters the following weekend, at 9 a.m. ET Saturday, July 21, on ESPN2.