Cox dry spell broken

After a long idle into this creek, and almost to the point of us giving up on John Cox, he started catching fish.

In the span of minutes he boated two 3-pound class fish. Those aren’t the ones he needs. But they help right now. As I type that he lands another in the 3-plus category.

He now has four for an easy 11 pounds. Add up the change and he might be close to 12 pounds.

Canterbury back on a roll

There were some key moments in Scott Canterbury's 2019 Angler of the Year championship season when he made some late point-saving rallies. One in particular stands out, when he had a late flurry just before check-in on Day 2 at Lake Tenkiller to barely make the top 40 cut.

Canterbury had another important rally last week. He was in 76th place after Day 1 at the St. Lawrence River. He moved up 33 places on Day 2 to 43rd place with a 20-pound bag.

Canterbury was leading the AOY standings after two events this season. He dropped to 4th place after the St. Lawrence. But it's still early in the season, he's only 19 points behind leader Clark Wendlandt and Canterbury appears to be back on track in the early hours at Lake Champlain. BASSTrakk shows him leading with 18-0 at 10 a.m.

Lester makes a move

Brandon Lester had a big smile on his face when he approached the ramp at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin.

"I just love this place," he said. "It's my favorite lake in the country."

The reason why is Lake Champlain supports viable populations of largemouth and smallmouth, the latter fish being a favorite of the middle Tennessean.

Lester has a lot of experience here. What he told me yesterday made me curious about what he might be doing out there.

"I explored a lot of new water," he said. "The last time we came here for an Open (2018) I didn't know you could catch them out to 50 feet."

Lester went on to say that he spent a lot of time fishing that depth range, learning the nuances of catching deep fish. Is that what he is doing now? I plan to find out when he returns for the weigh-in.

I see your true colors

John Cox has first keeper of the day. It comes aboard in the 2-pound class. Not the neighborhood he wants to be in but it’s a start.

He’s frustrated this morning. He’s missed a few. At least one of which he thinks was a “good one.”

He’s running now headed to a “shallow” creek. The shallow part was not needed as an explanation when he told us he was moving.

He’s been shallow all morning. Other boats are moving around and sticking to the deeper water. But Cox is sticking true to his colors, which is sticking to the skinniest water he can find.

Slow start for Cook

Drew Cook is off to a bit of a slow start this morning on Day 1 of Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain. His first few spots produced no fish due to a slow current and no wind.

Cook switched up his approach, targeting 10-foot flats on the main lake which seem to be working out better. He currently has two fish in the livewell, hauling them in with a fire tiger style crank bait.

Ticonderoga ... or bust

It's more of a bust right now, John Cox, Bill Lowen and Kyle Monti appear to be the only anglers who chose to make the long run to the largemouth-rich waters of Ticonderoga. None of them have a fish in the livewell.

Yesterday while doing the Dock Talk interviews I asked the guys about where they were going, and specifically if anyone was going to Ticonderoga. No was the answer from everyone.

A number of scenarios are in play as to why that might be the case. First, the water level is much lower than normal. Grassbeds and shoreline reeds are out of the water, so the key drawing card for making the run is out. Sure, the fish might have pulled out and are concentrated around the first breakline, but everything they count on for food and habitat is dry.

The caveat of making the long run is that you must commit to going there, and sacrificing the option to leave and go elsewhere. It's a three-hour round trip.

The trio of anglers that went south are all shallow water fishing aficionados. Harvey Horne, who falls into that group, wanted to go, and did in practice.

"I spent a day down there and just couldn't make it happen," he said. "In fact, I found everything you go down there for, and better, up north."

Meanwhile, the smallmouth anglers are catching fish, but not near the weight they need to reach the predicted 17-pound cut mark.

Will they pull the plug earlier than planned, and make the switch? One surprise is Seth Feider, a smallmouth expert, has pulled the plug and is fishing for largemouth.

"I'm going to flip a jig all day, dude," he said. "Stupid smallmouth."

Jocumsen struggling

Carl Jocumsen has yet to put a bass in the livewell, and the strain is showing.

He’s around fish: He was almost gunnel to gunnel with Brandon Palaniuk, who has 16 to 17 pounds and watched him cull a couple of times.

“How’s your mind?” Palaniuk asked.

“Not good,” Jocumsen replied.

Palaniuk shared the secret to his success on the rock ledge he’s fishing.

“You have to be right on the break,” he told Jocumsen. “There’s a big boulder there, and you’ll see fish on it.”

Palaniuk slid away from the boulder to allow Jocumsen to work in, but to no avail.

Asked why he was giving a competitor so much information, Palaniuk looked at me like I was cracked.

“He’s my best friend,” he said.

Low water levels

The photo above shows John Cox fishing down a bank of the Ticonderoga. What it doesn’t show is the water that is missing from the right side of the photo.

The water levels are so low at the moment that it looks like an overgrown field. On normal water, though, there is enough water to fish about a mile up that inlet.

That’s just a little look at the difference many of these guys are dealing with in this derby. It should help to concentrate fish. But at the moment the only bites Cox has had have been from pike.

Postspawn blues

Expect to see the anglers catch a lot of smallmouth today on Lake Champlain. The fish are biting. That's the good news. The not so good news is how many times the anglers will be culling to reach the pre-tournament 17-pound daily weight prediction needed to fish on Championship Sunday. So it's going to take going through a lot of fish to reach the desired weight. And that burns up time.

Postspawn conditions are in play. The fish are at their lowest weight of the season, having spawned, expended a lot of energy and weight.

"I think we are a little early, kind of in between the postspawn and the summer season," said Jason Williamson. "It's been hot up here for several weeks, and the water temperature is about where it was the last time we came here."

Williamson added he has a good hunch on which direction the fish are headed. Like just about everyone else, he plans to focus on catching a decent limit of smallmouth, then switch over to the largemouth.