Wind-blown current

Koby Kreiger moved to the bridge connecting Isle La Motte to the Vermont mainland, and my boater said that’s likely a smart move.

“What happens when you get a south wind is it creates current through these cuts, and that stack fish up,” Steve Dinco explained. “You can see that water flowing under the bridge.”

Kreiger has missed one fish, but thus far he hasn’t connected.

And he just pulled out again, heading toward the Canadian border.

Feider: We might be having a party today

There were four lead changes in the first 45 minutes today. First Brandon Palaniuk knocked Jamie Hartman from the lead with two bass that weighed a total of five pounds. Then Jason Williamson surged into first with three bass weighing 9 pounds. But Seth Feider has roared back into the lead with three smallmouth bass, the final one being an estimated 4 3/4-pounder.

"We might be having a party today," Feider exclaimed after boating the last one. "There's magic in the air. It's happening today. I'm shaking."

The difference in a day

Koby Kreiger went right back to the flat that produced a quick 15-pound limit yesterday. However, the conditions have changed dramatically- and so has the fishing.

Yesterday’s flat-calm waters and blue-bird sky have been replaced by a stiff chop and thick cloud cover.

He told me last night he was only staying at their spot “if they’re eating,” which they aren’t today.

Yesterday smallmouth were boiling all over the area when we arrived, but today there’s none of that topwater action.

And, true to his word, Kreiger pulled up stakes after just 15 or 29 minutes and headed to a bridge to fish riprap and a deep hole.

Palaniuk: Everybody's got a shot

If we hadn't witnessed three Elite Series anglers win from 10th place on the final day of a tournament over the past two seasons, a 10th-to-1st rally on Championship Sunday at Lake Champlain would seem unlikely. But with only 2 pounds, 12 ounces separating the field today, anything can happen.

"I think everybody in the top 10 is going to have a chance to win," said Brandon Palaniuk, who caught one of the three 20-pound bags weighed Saturday. "The weights are so tight.

"I think someone will catch 21 or 22 pounds because the weather is going to help them bite. I just hope it's me."

Palaniuk, for the first time this week, had two largemouth bass in his 20-pound, 5-ounce five-bass limit Saturday. He's been concentrating on smallmouths with a dropshot. But he picked up a clue late in the day that he may be able to exploit today.

"With the weather change, I'm going to mix it up a little bit more," he said. "I may even start out that way. I caught a 4-pounder in the last 10 minutes and culled doing it. I'm excited about it."

One of the closest final-days in Elite Series history

With just under 3-pounds separating our final-day 10, and basically 1 pound between the top five, this is one of, if not the closest final-days in Elite Series history.

We often sit around and talk about the potential of a tie. It’s an exercise more than anything, but for the first time, it appears as if it could be a real possibility even before the day gets going.

It will be close. That makes it exciting. Worth watching every second, knowing that every ounce is critical.

It should go down to the last minute. Lake Champlain will certainly serve up a show. All of these finalists will catch them. The winner, though, will likely be the man who catches the big bass of the day. He will still have to back it up with four solid keepers. But a 5- to 6-pounder will change the complexion of everything.

The big bass part of the day makes it a wild card. And that could hit any of these anglers at any time. Remember Aaron Martens in 2017. I think he was in 19th going into the final day.

The 10 here are likely happy there aren’t more fishing today. The only thing any of them can be certain of is they have a one in 10 chance of winning.

Like last week, the other thing to watch is the impact of the weather. It’s blowing harder today than any other. Some of the places these guys have leaned so hard on will likely get trashed and become unfishable. Others will benefit from the wind. There’s no design in that. You might plan for it but no guarantees. Getting around could be difficult enough.

In one sense it would be hard to script a better ending than this one.

Big-time shootout set for Sunday

Everyone knew the weights would be tight at Lake Champlain. But, wow, what a shootout is set for Sunday’s championship. Leader Jamie Hartman and fourth-place Seth Feider are separated by a mere 12 ounces. And the difference between first place and 10th place is only 2 pounds, 12 ounces. 

“That’s what you come here for is a shot,” said David Mullins, who moved within an ounce of the lead with the big bag of the day - 20 pounds, 10 ounces. “You keep knocking at the door and eventually it’s going to open. I’m excited to go (Sunday).”

As we’ve documented all week, Lake Champlain is fishing a bit better this year than it did the last time the Elite Series was here in 2017. This will be the final comparison, as that tournament was shortened to three days due to high winds. By any comparison, Lake Champlain has been consistently outstanding. 

Day 3                           7/29/17           8/1/20

Total anglers               51                    40

Limits caught              51                    39       

1st place                     58-12               59-12

5th place                     56-9                 58-11

10th place                   54-14               57-0

25th place                   52-1                 52-11

40th place                   48-0                 40-2

Big bass                       6-4                   5-5

Bags 18 lbs. or over     15                    14

Bags 19 lbs. or over     8                      8         

Bags 20-lbs. or over    3                      3                                 

Total fish weighed      253                  197     

Total weight                847-2               663-8  

Ave. wt./bass              3.35 lbs.          3.37 lbs.

 

 

Top 10 cut weight? 54-14

We've documented how closely the weights from this event have parallelled the 2017 Elite Series event at Lake Champlain. That tournament was shortened to three days. If you look at the Day 3 weights from 2017, 54-14 took 9th and 10th place.

So if we were going to guess what the top 10 cut weight at today's weigh-in would be, that would be a semi-educated estimate. Seven anglers have topped the 55-pound mark so far, according to BASSTrakk.

Palmer running new water

Like Palmer has a limit, and just culled up on a spot he’s been rotating to - but most of his fish have been caught on areas in which he didn’t practice.

“I’ve got a spot I found I practice, and I haven’t caught a fish off of,” Palmer said. 

He just culled a 2-pounder, giving him a limit made up of three 3-pounders and a couple of fish just over 2 pounds. 

“I need a couple of 4-pounders to make me feel better,” Palmer said. “It won’t do me any good, but I’ll feel better.”

Canterbury warming up now

Scott Canterbury has been shocked by how tough the fishing has been for him today. It took him to almost 12:30 to catch five keepers. But he just upgraded, culling a 2-pounder with a 3-pounder, and he caught another smallmouth that didn't help him.

"It's been a grind, like a tougher day than I could even imagine," Canterbury said. "If I could get two really good ones, like 4 1/4, 4 1/2, like I had yesterday, I'd have a good bag." 

Canterbury noted that his livewells have been full of crawfish pincers at the end of the previous two days, so much so that he's had to clean the screens in his livewells. Crawfish and yellow perch seem to be the primary forage for Lake Champlain smallmouth bass.

Going as planned for Loughran

This morning, Ed Loughran III told me his best window of opportunity is between 10 a.m. and noon. Sure enough, his prediction is right on target, with his livewell fish getting caught between 9:22 a.m. and 12:09 p.m.

"I need the wind for what I am doing," he said. "Wind driven current kick starts the bite.

Loughran hopes to extend his window of opportunity into the afternoon. He also told me that he's only fished 30 percent of his spots.

BASSTrakk has Loughran in 5th place with 16 pounds, 14 ounces, which is two pounds shy of his goal. Should he stay inside the cut, it will be his first appearance on Championship Sunday.

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