BassCam: Getting back on track

David Walker talks about the nuances of a day off.



Timmy Horton talks about restarting after an off day



Brent Ehrler talks about restarting after an off day.



Ott DeFoe preps for the day



Brandon Palaniuk talks about getting back on track

BASSTrakk will be light today

For this week's tournament at Lake Champlain we're short on Marshals. Which means we don't have a BASSTrakk unit in every boat. So in BASSTrakk today you'll see some guys showing zeros who likely have fish. We'll get you all caught up during the weigh-in which begins at 3:15 ET today.

Early heartbreak for Palaniuk

If you're watching "Bassmaster LIVE," you know that Angler of the Year points leader Brandon Palaniuk's day started with a heartbreaker. On his first cast with a topwater bait Palaniuk hooked a 4-pound smallmouth bass, fought it all the way to the boat, then watched it jump over his hand and come unhooked as he tried to land it.

"You've got to be freakin' kidding me," Palaniuk said. "Jumped right over my hand."

After so many anglers talking about how skinny the post-spawn smallmouth bass are in Lake Champlain right now, that's a particularly tough pill to swallow first thing in the morning.

He's since added two keeper-size fish.

"It's just not easy to get those four-pound bites here," Palaniuk said.

Champlain fishing different?

Steve Kennedy, who finished third the last time the Elite Series was at Lake Champlain in 2007, has fished several tournaments here. But he didn’t find the largemouth bass at Ticonderoga like he has in the past. After three days of practice this week, Kennedy said he planned to concentrate on smallmouth bass closer to Plattsburgh.

Elite Series rookie Jamie Hartman, who is from Newport, N.Y., has more experience fishing tournaments on Champlain than any other angler in this 109-man field, but not at this time of year. Hartman finished his practice period, “extremely concerned,” adding, “I haven’t found any consistent fish. Nothing grouped up. I’m in panic mode.”

There may be a reason for Lake Champlain “fishing different” than normal.

"It’s been a cool spring and early summer in this part of the country,” said Bernie Pientka, fisheries biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The water north to south is cooler on average for this time of year, and that will impact how anglers approach their patterns. The bass quality won’t suffer very much, but the fish may be spread out and somewhat unpredictable when compared to years past.”

As Elite Series followers have heard over and over through the years, somebody in this field will find them. They always do. It will be interesting to see how and where in what is now a three-day tournament instead of four.

A completely different day

Today is a completely different day from yesterday in a lot of ways. The wind has to be mentioned. Its basically calm.

But I was surprised this morning when we reached Wilcox Dock, a ramp not too far from the take off. We got there about the same time as we did yesterday. Today there was no line waiting to launch. Yesterday the line was long and slow.

Yesterday anglers were milling around the dock trying to get their stuff together. Today every boat was already gone. Even Randy Howell, who is notorious for being late, or at least the last boat in the water, was on time and actually a little early.

Seems like a day of rest has these guys ready to go. I know the rest of us are as well.

Friday morning optimism

Beautiful morning at Lake Champlain, there is a bit of breeze hiding under the beautiful sky. However everyone is quietly optimistic. the view is almost as surreal as an old painting.  The usual morning banter is missing. Everyone knows they have less time and seem more serious.

Photos by Bassmaster Marshal Rick Moore

Elites no strangers to rough water

The Elite Series anglers may not be fishing today due to rough water, but there have been plenty of times the conditions changed throughout the day making their runs very interesting. Here's a look at some recent photo galleries of rough rides of the Elites

The Miracle Mile outside Detroit

Whitewater bassin' on the Alabama River Part 2 Part 3

Rough ride on the Rez (Ross Barnett earlier this year)

Rough ride on Lake Erie (Open in 2015)

Battling Lake Oneida (Open in 2016)

The clock has already started

The clock is winding down and the Bassmaster Elite Series on Lake Champlain presented by Dick Cepek Tires and Wheels has yet to begin.

It's ticking faster due to the postponement of Day 1.

Seven days of competition remain in the regular season. Subtract the postponed day and the time loss becomes critical.

“When you deduct time off the clock in fishing, actual fishing time becomes more critical,” explained Bernie Schultz, a nine-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier.

Managing fish in an Elite Series tournament is vital and finding enough fish to last four days can be difficult. With the event being reduced to a three-day derby due to weather, some anglers will take a different approach than that of a typical event.

“I’ll be more aggressive and thorough on the fish, with the objective to make Sunday’s cut,” said Schultz.

The three-day format now sets up a full-field battle on both Friday and Saturday, with the top 51 anglers fishing on Championship Sunday.

“Compared to a four-day tournament, I won’t be saving much.”

For a junk fisherman like Steve Kennedy, who just “goes fishing,” the way he will approach the event could be identical compared to previous tournaments.

“I never save much, with the exception of the Dardanelle tournament I won a couple of events ago.

“It just usually doesn’t happen for me that way, by the final day I’m usually scrambling around looking for more fish,” Kennedy said. “Now, Sunday, I will definitely lean into them harder.”

Though Kennedy did not have much of a preference on the tactics of fish management during the now three-day tournament he did mention the wind.

“The wind I practiced for did take a complete 180, so my approach with that will certainly be different.”

With time and weather variables at stake, the scheduling and approach to the wind-swept Champlain fish will be crucial to the three days of tournament competition and possibly for the rest of an anglers season. 

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