Pirch is a stickler for details

Clifford Pirch is known as a detail-oriented angler. Nothing is too little to escape his attention. Previously unknown was Pirch's stickler for dental details, as shown in this photo, maybe a B.A.S.S. historical first, of a man with an electric toothbrush in his mouth while driving a bass boat.

Here are some other details about where the 44-year-old Payson, Ariz., angler sits in this tournament at Lake Champlain - right on the bubble to make the Day 2 top 40 cut. Pirch, who is coming off a 24th-place finish at the St. Lawrence River, started today in 40th place with 17 pounds, 2 ounces. Based on what we've seen at Lake Champlain in the past, it will take at least 34 pounds to make the top 40 cut at the end of the day.

In the 2017 Elite Series tournament here, 17-0 was 40th place on Day 1 and 33-5 was 40th on Day 2. Lake Champlain seems to be fishing a bit better this year than it was then.

Ito is finesse fishing

Takumi Ito is continuing to upgrade his morning with his fourth fish. Would be a five-fish total, but he had a fish pull off as soon as I pulled up to cover him.

Ito is finesse fishing rock piles along large flats with a drop shot. With only four fish, and no big ones, he has a lot of potential to upgrade.

In old school fashion

We just pulled up to a bunch of old bridge pilings that many, many years ago crossed the lake on the north end. Buddy Gross is fishing away from the pilings, probably around rocks. But he’s close to the pilings.

On the pilings is Rick Clunn, who in old school fashion, moved once Gross settled in. Clunn went several hundred yards away. He’s still on the pilings but is certainly out of Gross’ way.

An interesting note: Clunn won a Bassmaster event on these pilings many years ago. Long before Gross was fishing derbies most likely.

But it’s still good to see he’s not above ceding the way for a leader in the event. Don’t see that as much as you once did.

Hartman hopes to manage fish

Day-1 leader Jamie Hartman got off to a blistering start on Day 2. By 8 a.m., he had a limit of 17 pounds, 4 ounces and held the top three spots on the day’s Big Bass list.

Hartman started on a grassy point that’s about 10 feet on top — the spot where he briefly stopped on his way in yesterday and nabbed a 4-pounder. He’s fished this point for several years, but apparently, the area has accumulated a surprisingly better level of quality and quantity.

This morning’s bright, sunny conditions have stimulated the smallmouth, which are known as fierce sight feeders.

Hartman has put on a Carolina-rig clinic this morning. A drop shot would also work where he’s fishing, but after losing several key fish on that rig during last week's SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River, he’s more comfortable with the C-rig heavier tackle.

The Carolina rig is also a more efficient option, as Hartman can cover water more quickly with a steady reeling presentation. The heavier rig reaches bottom quickly and stirs up a lot of fish-tempting commotion, but in some instances, Hartman connected with aggressive smallmouth even before his weight hit bottom.

By 8, Hartman had two 4-pounders, a 3, a 3-12 and a 2-8 in his livewell. He’s wants to upgrade before leaving, but he’s weighing that short-term ambition against his long-term potential.

“I hope I can get a couple more 4s really quick,” Hartman said. “I don’t want to burn this spot up; I want to save some for tomorrow.”

Locking up a solid limit of brown fish early will allow Hartman plenty of time to go hog hunting for one of Champlain’s whopper largemouth. If he can accomplish that goal, he may be hard to catch today.

Palaniuk: Efficiency is key

Brandon Palaniuk weighed 19 pounds, 12 ounces to land in 8th place. He is holding steady in 10th place according to the BASSTrakk standings.

This morning he told me that to stay in contention to win this tournament will take reaching the 20-pound daily weight mark, which is a carryover from last week at the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

Flawless execution and even fish care are a must.

"Efficiency is key at this place," he said. "Not making any mistakes is what it's all about here when the weights are so tight."

He continued, "Keeping the fish alive and healthy is just as important. This week if you are going to have a shot at winning then you will need to be around that 20-pound mark every day."

Gross landed No. 4

Buddy Gross has just landed his fourth keeper of the day, a 3-pound class fish he swung over the side.

We haven’t asked him but we expect this is where he caught a good bit of his fish on Day 1.

He’s hurting a rock ridge tear trails straight out of a big spawning bay. It’s classic postspawn, classic smallmouth fishing tied together.

Rolled up on Clent Davis

Clent Davis rolled up on his first spot this morning to only be disappointed by missing a couple 4-pounders. He claims the fish only bite on this flat for about the first hour, and then they shut down.

Although Davis will not be giving this spot a chance much longer, he did manage to land his first fish of the morning while writing this blog. About a 4-pounder.

Davis is throwing a drop shot, ChatterBait, and jerkbait ... with luck only coming on the ChatterBait.

Hartman: Timing is everything

This morning I asked Jamie Hartman about how important timing is for being in the right place, at the right time. Weights are tight and there is no room to slip. So it seemed to me that you cannot miss a chance to be in the best areas when the smallmouth fire.

"Making the right decision at the right time is key," he said. "Yesterday morning was pretty slow across the board."

He continued, "We aren't really sure why it did that but it did turn on. That's how summertime smallmouth fishing works anyway."

"When you get a lot of sunshine and some ripple on the water, the fish start firing up, '' he continued. "I think that was what happened yesterday morning. It was really, really calm and those are the hardest conditions to fish for summertime smallmouth.

Hartman is getting the job done early. BASSTrakk shows 13 pounds, 8 ounces in his livewell. The Carolina Rig is doing the trick.

Hartman is on track to pace his performance on Day 1, when he weighed 22-1. Clearly, he had the advantage by catching quality fish over numbers.

Palaniuk: ‘It’s a lot slower’

Brandon Palaniuk went right back to the well that produced a quick 16-pound limit yesterday, but it’s not going as well as this morning.

Palaniuk has just two smallies in the livewell for about 5 1/2 pounds.

“It’s a lot slower,” he said. “There’s not the bait stacked up like yesterday.”

My boater said the situation is different under our boat.

“There’s a lot of bait under us,” Steve Dinco said. “He’s on the wrong side of the reef, but he’ll figure that out.”

Dinco also said the building winds will likely help Palaniuk’s bite.

“This breeze is probably good for him - the fish will start piling up,” Dinco said. “It’ll put a little more current in the water and group up the baitfish.”

Lester and the birds

Lester is catching them quick and mixing through small fish. He had a moderate size limit of smallmouth and just lost one that would have been nice.

He is off the side of a reef in which several other antlers are on top of throwing reaction style baits. Lester is focusing on small pods of bait and is following a flock of seagulls around.

He estimates around 16.5 pounds. Good start!

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