The Ticonderoga has a lot of mystique to it. Every event has its lake guys and river guys. But the Ticonderoga has been good to all of them regardless of make and model.
You can win here. But you can also die here. That makes it a big gamble that normally comes with some pain. Winds are forecast to be favorable on Chaplain this week. But it’s still a big lake and it’s a long way away. Just a little wind can make it further.
In just a little bit we will see the biggest gamblers in the field on the horizon or see a guy who is locked in on something special.
How can you not cover something like that?
Brandon Lester was in 4th place after Day 1 at Lake Champlain the last time the Elite Series was here in 2017. It's an unusual statistical occurrence, but of the top 10 anglers on Day 1, only Lester remained in the top 10 in the final standings of that event, which was shortened to three days due to high winds.
That points to the volatility you'll see in the standings over the next four days of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain, where almost everyone will have a five-bass limit and one big bass can make all the difference on a daily basis. And it might also be an indication of the Tennessee angler's comfort on Lake Champlain. Well, part of Lake Champlain, anyway.
"The northern end of Lake Champlain is my favorite part of any lake in the whole country," Lester said yesterday. "I just like the way it sets up. You can fish shallow or you can get offshore. And anytime you find something that you think ought to have fish on it, 90 percent of the time it does."
"The bass have read the memo here," Lester added with a laugh. "They don't do that everywhere."
Lester noted that he isn't exactly a seasoned Champlain bass angler. This is only his third tournament here. He finished 4th in an Eastern Open at Champlain in 2018. But he likes everything he's seen so far. This week's practice was no exception.
"The smallmouth seem to be biting pretty good," Lester said. "I don't think you can win with all smallmouth. There will be a lot of good 15-, 16-, 17-pound limits of smallmouth, then you're trying to find that big largemouth."
I’m driving through the Adirondacks this morning, moving as fast as I can South before the boats start taking off in Plattsburgh.
I’m headed to the Ticonderoga River, taking the easy route over asphalt. In virtually every event I’ve ever covered on Champlain, the Ticonderoga has always been a factor in the early going of these multi-day events.
In 2007 or thereabouts, Timmy Horton won the event going away in the Ticonderoga. It didn’t play as big in 2017 but it’s been pretty good down there lately.
Some of the weeknight events there are taking 21 pounds to win. That’s locals who know the river intimately but it’s also only three hour events.
I’m not sure who will head this way or if anyone will. You make this trip as an angler you have to be dialed in and make it happen in a very short time.
Yesterday, Craig Lamb and Andy Crawford produced a Dock Talk feature. While doing that, they asked the anglers who was running South. None of them were. But I still believe there will be some hearty souls who will give it a try.
Who that will be won’t be known for some time. It is a long run from Plattsburgh, but we will be there waiting.
Day 1 of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain will feature these 8 anglers all day on ESPN2 and Bassmaster.com. You can catch all the action at 8 a.m. ET on TV and the internet. Meanwhile, LIVE Mix will start before takeoff at 6:40 a.m. ET.
Left to right (Jesse Tacoronte, Jamie Hartman, Bryan Schmitt, Clark Wendlandt, Seth Feider, John Cox, Drew Benton and Austin Felix).
If someone asked who is the most prolific crankbait fisherman on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour, 99% of fans will tell you it's David Fritts. Fritts has been fishing Bassmaster events since 1991. While he has never won on Champlain, he has one fourth-place finish and three appearances in the top 10. Outside of Rick Clunn, Fritts has fished this lake more than any other angler currently on tour.
As I interviewed Fritts, something interesting in the background caught my eye. Sitting next to his new Lowrance LIVE was an Eagle flasher that was made back in the 1980s. I asked Fritts about it, and he said, “It’s brand new out of the box.” I asked him how many more he had at home and he said, “Nine more, but only one more in the box.”
I was curious why he was using an electronics setup that was considered to be an antique. He explained that, when you are fishing lakes with shallow grass, new technology has a hard time finding the holes. That is what Fritts is keying on this week.
I told Fritts, if he wins this week, I want a lesson on reading antique flashers.