Feider pulling the plug with 20 pounds?

Seth Feider's confidence is sky high right now, and justifiably so. He just flipped another 4-pound largemouth in the boat. It gives him right at 20 pounds for the day.

"I think we need to leave," Feider said to his cameraman, Eric Kaffka. "I've got 19 1/2, 19 3/4 on my scales. That's going to be 20 on the B.A.S.S. scales."

Since Feider has switched tactics from smallmouth bass to largemouth, he's put together quite a day. It's not unlike what he did here in 2017, when he finished second by 14 ounces. His big bass today weighs 5 pounds, 4 ounces.

"I've played this game before," Feider said. "I've made a lot of money doing this."

What Feider is doing is flipping around the boats and docks in a marina. He has backed off and let it rest and reload periodically. Feider has also played the game before of strategy in a four-day tournament. He's right on the mark for what it usually takes to win at Lake Champlain — an average of 20 pounds per day.

Now I've seen it all

After sitting under a bridge for 20 mins letting a rain shower pass, we headed further into the Missisquoi Bay just on this side of the border from Canada. We spot an angler and decide to stop for a few minutes.

As I’m watching the guy standing and casting, I am having a terrible time trying to figure out who it is. It looks like David Fritts, his boat looks like Fritts, but the guy is standing up. David Fritts has not fished a crankbait standing up since 1998, so he said.

As we decide to go in quietly with the trolling motor he sets the hook on a 4-pounder. At this point we’re close enough that I can use my camera to take a photo and zoom in on the back of the camera to see the name of the side of the boat.

I said to myself, now I have seen it all! David Fritts standing and casting a crank bait. Not to mention he’s in the top 10 with around 18 pounds on BASSTrakk.

I asked David after he put the last fish in the boat, how much weight he had he turned to me smiling and said in that super Southern, recognizable voice of his, “ Oh I don’t know, maybe 17 or 18,” then he kept laughing, which tells me he might have more.

A little spot of nasty

A storm is rolling across the Inland Sea, and it’s nasty.

The line keeps developing new cells, and it’s pouring when the clouds let go of their loads.

The good news is it doesn’t look to be widespread — but it sure isn’t any fun to work in.

Gotta love the weathermen, who had forecasted 10% chance of rain last night — only to change it to 60% after launch.

Flexibility will be a factor

Seth Feider exemplified the critical decisions that will make a difference in this event’s outcome. After starting his day in search of smallmouth on a large flat, he said he wasn’t feeling it, so he shifted gears.

In his characteristically low-keyed tone, Feider muttered “stupid smallmouth” as he decided to ditch the brown fish in favor of flipping shallow grass for largemouth. A flurry of good bites provided the encouragement he needed.

“I can do this all day,” he said, as he swung a keeper aboard. “I’m just flipping a jig around grass. I can do this all day. If I keep doing this we might get a grown one.”

Feider did, in fact, find a quality largemouth, but it required a secondary adjustment — this time, to a protected area that will only get better during the day’s warmer period. Pitching a jig around a marina with lots of aquatic vegetation complementing the dock shade, Feider nabbed a couple of chunks, including a 4-pound, 12-ouncer that helped move him into the (unofficial) top 10 by 11 a.m.

Feider’s summary: “I'm just trying to drop a jig wherever I think there’s a fish and every now and then it gets tight.”

At 11:24, Feider surged into the lead with a 5-4 largemouth — the day’s biggest yet — for an unofficial total of 18-4. The catch allowed him to cull a 3-pound smallmouth.

“I just went from 15 pounds to 18 with one catch,” Feider said.

We’ll likely hear more tales of success following key changes today.

Pirch needing some sun

My second stop was on Clifford Pirch. He has been fishing the train trestle located in Missisquoi Bay. From one bank to the other the bridge has close to 1,000 rail pilings on each side where fish could be hiding.

Right now he has a five-fish limit but really no size to them. Pirch said, “If the sun would come out and stay out it would make the fish hold tight to the structure and make them easier to catch.”

Meanwhile a photographic opportunity that I was not expecting at all happened. A random train came across the bridge as Pirch was pitching to the pilings. Immediately he got a bite.

Lester getting 'sloppy'

No, Brandon Lester isn't getting that kind of sloppy. BASSTrakk has him at 17 pounds even, and he has gone largemouth fishing. We followed him back into the “slop,” and he has caught several decent fish with no culls. 

Randy Sullivan follow-up bait

What a beautiful morning we have on Lake Champlain for Day 1 of the Bassmaster Elite Series event.

Our first stop was on Randy Sullivan. I watched  Randy set the hook on a fish, and he missed him. He said, “I saw the fish follow the bait out from the grass as he just missed it.“

Randy immediately grabbed a follow-up bait and pitched it back to the target. So I had to ask what he was using for a follow-up bait. He said he’s throwing a 1/2-ounce small profile jig, and if the fish short strikes he immediately follows up with a Beaver creature bait.

Cox finished his limit

John Cox has finished his limit in this shallow creek. They don’t weigh much, but he has five.

He’s decided to head back to Plattsburgh. “I feel like if I can get a couple hours there I will be all right,” he said.

He’s on his way back, and as we idled out we met Brandon Card. He has four in the boat for about 8 pounds.

He’s moving back to the area Cox left. Maybe he will figure it out.

Whitaker: ‘There’s a lot of time left’

I caught up with Jake Whitaker in the Inland Sea, and he said his morning has been going fairly well.

“It’s been alright,” he said. “I’ve got four fish that are OK. I’ve got one small one.”

He estimates he has about 10 pounds, so he’s got some work to do — but he’s not worried.

“That’s alright,” Whitaker said. “It’s early. There’s still a lot of time left.”

Palaniuk expects logjam in standings

Brandon Palaniuk wasn't going out on a limb when he predicted a logjam in the standings for this Lake Champlain event. It's always that way here, where 3-pound smallmouth bass are common and 4-pound smallmouth and largemouth are much less so. He was emphasizing how volatile the standings can be from day to day.

"I feel good that I'll catch a bunch of fish," Palaniuk said yesterday. "I could catch 50 fish a day and (the best five) could weigh 15 pounds or they could weigh 20 pounds. The difference in (catching) a 3-pounder and a 4-pounder is a pretty big deal here."

So far today, Palaniuk is catching at least a few of the bass he needs. BASSTrakk shows him in a third-place tie with 17-0. In an example of how big ounces are in this event, you need only look back at Palaniuk's first two days in 2017 when he finished third at Lake Champlain. He was in 22nd place with 18-1 on Day 1. He caught a five-bass limit weighing 18-13 — 12 ounces more — on Day 2 and moved up 12 places in the standings to 10th place.