Wheeler getting fired up

Don’t count out Jacob Wheeler in this high turnover leader board.

Wheeler is on top of a massive school of smallmouth. The last fish he caught was followed by a 5-pounder to the boat. It is just a matter of time before the school fires up. The more sunshine the better, as schools of smallmouth break up and individual fish move to isolated rocks.

Wheeler is using a one-two punch to dial into his smallmouth. A Carolina rig helps cover lots of ground. When the fish are located he can slow down and with a swimbait.

Wheeler is using a 3/8-ounce VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig with a Storm 360 GT Swimbait for a trailer. To make the Carolina rig he is using a 3.25-inch Gene Larew Lures Biffle Bug Jr., rigged to a 3/0 VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Wide Gap Hook. A 3/4-ounce VMC Tungsten Worm Weight completes the rig.

Kennedy surprised by early bite

Steve Kennedy's best spot didn't turn on until one o'clock yesterday. So he was pleasantly surprised when he pulled up there this morning and landed a couple of 3-pounds-plus smallmouth bass, according to photographer Gettys Brannon, who is following Kennedy this morning.

BASSTrakk shows Kennedy with four bass weighing 13-3 now. It's by far Kennedy's best early morning of the tournament.

Lester's road trip payoff

Brandon Lester normally avoids pre-practice trips to scout the fisheries on the Elite Series schedule. The northern swing was an exception.

The Tennessee pro spent lots of time in upstate New York during the six-week break between the Lake Dardanelle event and St. Lawrence River tournament held last week.

“I looked at the points needed to qualify for the Classic and decided to do whatever was needed to get back inside the cut,” he said.

The trip to the St. Lawrence and then Lake Champlain paid off. Last week he finished 32nd on the St. Lawrence with 37 pounds, 8 ounces.

After Day 1 he ranked third with 37-8, or about one pound behind leader Jacob Wheeler.

Lester's catching 'em

The wind set up like a gem for Brandon Lester to load the box.  He's catching several fish as they migrate through and feed. Every once and a while he picks off one of the ones he needs.

Kennedy keeping secrets

Steve Kennedy is being even more secretive than usual about the bait that has been his main weapon this week at Champlain. It's a swimbait. But even if the exact make and model is revealed, and the "Bassmaster LIVE" crew is really trying to get the information, that won't be the most important detail in what Kennedy is doing.

Kennedy has been experimenting the last three weeks with 3/4- and 1-ounce swimbait heads/treble hook combinations that a big smallmouth can't throw. There's been much frustration in the process. Kennedy came to the St. Lawrence River four days before practice began and fished in the pool below tournament waters near Massena, N.Y., simply to work on landing smallmouth bass on a swimbait.

Kennedy thought he had the technique refined. And he did, for 4-pounders and smaller bass. But the 5- and 6-pounders, the difference-makers, were still throwing the bait.

"This is the third time in a row I should have been leading this tournament on Day 1," said Kennedy last Thursday in Waddington. Stories about the big ones that got away continued the next day, when Kennedy finished 60th.

He acknowledged yesterday that he's received three special orders of treble hooks this week, and Kennedy may have finally refined the technique. He also, of course, lamented the fact that a "Bassmaster LIVE" camera was going to be in his boat today - revealing all his hard work to the world. So far, Kennedy's secret is still intact.

Anglers with no marshals today

We roughly had 30 to 35 anglers without a marshal on Day 1 and Day 2 of the event. Championship Sunday is different this week as we only have three days of action so 51 anglers are battling on Champlain today. There are 15 anglers we have reported with no marshal today so their weights shouldn't change for the viewers at home.

Below are the anglers without a marshal today:
Keith Combs
Bradley Roy
Fletcher Shryock
Jason Christie
Drew Benton
Paul Mueller
Cliff Pace
Clifford Pirch
Casey Ashley
John Crews
Gary Klein
Paul Elias
Russ Lane
Brock Mosley
Stetson Blaylock

Chris Lane had delayed start today

Chris Lane finished Day 2 in 14th place with 36 pounds 4 ounces. That's particularly exciting for the Alabama pro who has had an uncharacteristically tough season. He's 96th in Toyota Angler of the Year standings. This morning after the first flight departed (the top 25 anglers in the tournament), Lane remained in the take-off area. He was sitting in his boat, off by himself, looking kinda glum. So we trolled over to see if he was okay. We learned that Lane was in the penalty box and would not be departing until after the second flight was gone.

Yesterday he had run through a bridge, a no wake zone, and was doing his time for the infraction. "I love the penalty box, I just hate when I'm in it," he said.

It seems like all the Elites believe the penalty box is a good idea. It's certainly less damaging than having a full day's catch disqualified.

Lane was disappointed in his late start because he found fish yesterday that he believed would bite early today.

Feider "gets the party started"

Seth Feider made a move to Woods Island, began fishing for smallmouth with a drop shot, and quickly caught a 3-pounder. His first fish of the day.  "Getting the party started," he said.

Kennedy off to a quality start

Steve Kennedy is off to a good start on his "quality hole." Shortly after pulling up, we saw Kennedy — in between a couple of short strikes — land a 3-4 and a 4-pound smallmouth.

"The 3-4, I hooked good. Unfortunately, it got her tongue, but she looks to be doing okay," Kennedy noted.

As I send this, he heads off to the location where he has caught the majority of his fish this week.

Feider flippin' for largemouth

This morning Steve Bowman and I are on Minnesotan Seth Feider who starts the day in 2nd place. He's fishing in glass smooth St. Albans Bay on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain. We've come to know Feider in the past year after his second place finish in the upper Mississippi River and his win at Mille Lacs. And he has a well earned reputation as a smallmouth expert. But don't assume he's not a versatile angler. On this Championship Sunday up north, where he is only one pound out of the lead, Feider is fishing for largemouth. He doesn't have a spinning reel in his hand. Instead he's flippin a jig.

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