It's a game of ounces

When the top 13 anglers are separated by a mere 29 ounces, it's no stretch to expect ounces rather than pounds to be the difference for today's champion. That's why leader Jacob Wheeler lamented the fact that a four-ounce dead fish penalty kept him from weighing an even 21 pounds yesterday.

Wheeler had one of only three dead bass that were weighed on the day. He wasn't complaining about the penalty. Those things happen. He was just acknowledging the fact that it could ultimately be the difference in winning or not in this game of ounces on Lake Champlain.

Wheeler enters the day with a one-pound lead over second-place Seth Feider. But the next 12 places in the standings, from Feider to 13th-place Ott DeFoe, are separated by only 13 ounces. If there is a tie for first at the end of the day, there will be a fish-off afterwards to determine the champion, according to B.A.S.S. tournament director Trip Weldon.

"We've got lots of daylight to work with," Weldon said.

The format is undetermined at this time. Tournament officials will set it based on the anglers.

"It's a big lake, and we want to be fair to both anglers," Weldon said.

What happened to Ocamica on Day 1?

If you looked at the leaderboard yesterday you may have noticed Idaho pro Darrell Ocamica had a zero for the day. That was particularly surprising since most of the field had a limit, with only two weighing in with four fish. I wondered if Ocamica, who qualified for the Elites via the B.A.S.S. Nation, had mechanical problems. It turns out that wasn't the case. Ocamica was the first to weigh in today and started by apologizing.

"You know Gerald Swindle has his thing with 'Positive Mental Attitude," he said. "Well I had a Bad Mental Attitude yesterday. I had a really tough day and only caught 7 pounds. I was so frustrated when I got to the dock, I dumped my fish in the water and went to the hotel."

He got to thinking about things last night and realized he let some people down. People that supported him like the B.A.S.S. Nation, his family, and his sponsors. "I owed them to at least show up on stage and show my face," he said. Ocamica felt bad for his decision not to weigh-in, and said he was sorry several times.

Today was a better day. He weighed in 14 pounds and 7 ounces, and maybe salvaged a little pride. Earlier in the year he made two top 51 cuts, at Cherokee Lake and Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Plattsburgh City Beach is hoppin

An hour before the Day 2 weigh-in, which is at Plattsburgh City Beach today and Sunday, the park is busy with families out enjoying a beautiful day on the shores of Lake Champlain. Many are now taking the short walk to the weigh-in.

Lester's turn

As everyone predicted the BASSTrakk leader has changed again. This time it's Brandon Lester's turn. Someone else might be at the top before I even finish typing this blog post.

The reason is the higher the sun gets the more it concentrates the bass on isolated cover. Lester is focusing on that, with a twist. Late yesterday the forecast called for northerly winds gusting to 18 mph. Talk of a cancelled Day 2 swirled around like the wind. Lester fished like he wouldn't be going out today.

Yesterday this is what he told me at the weigh-in.

"I went ahead can caught everything I could from a given spot. I wasn't sure whether or not I would be able to get back to the same areas on Day 2."

He wasn't worried about conserving any fish for later in the tournament, either.

"There are so many fish in here, and I feel like there are always fish moving around looking for a place to hold when the sun gets up high."

Good observation that is panning out now.

"First thing in the morning the smallmouth are scattered. Later in the day they concentrate on isolated pieces of structure."

Lester has a milk run of those isolated pieces of structure and he is making the most of it right now.

Where will the cut line be?

Since the weights last week at the St. Lawrence River and this week at Lake Champlain have been so comparable, it's worth a look to see where the Top 51 cut line might be after today's weigh-in.

At the St. Lawrence, 51st place on Day 1 was 17-10. Double that and you get 35-4. The actual cut weight ended up being slightly less - 34-13.

Yesterday here, 51st place was 16-9. Double that and you get 33-2. It looks like it will take an average of 16 1/2 pounds a day to make the cut at Lake Champlain. No one would have predicted that before this tournament started.

Feast or famine for Christie

You were shocked if you watched Jason Christie catch so many small bass yesterday on "Bassmaster LIVE," then end up with the fifth-place bag of 19-8. It was a feast or famine day for Christie in terms of the size he caught.

"My best five weighed 19 pounds, and my next five would have weighed 12," Christie said. "I just don't know how many are there. I leaned on them pretty good. I thought the average fish would be bigger."

Christie is leaning on them even harder today. BASSTrakk indicates he's caught 24 bass with a best five weighing 10-8. I'd be surprised if he doesn't have more weight than that, but he still needs some significant upgrades. Two of his keepers came early yesterday, but three were caught late.

"I think with the sun getting higher and everything calming down a little bit, they went to biting," Christie. "But I don't have a clue. Everybody that watched 'LIVE' saw how tough of a day I had, and I finished with 19 pounds."

Christie is still waiting for that big bite to turn on again this afternoon.

GoPro: Lester's Day 1 on Champlain

Brandon Lester rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with all smallmouth and ended the day in 4th.

Caption this


We asked our fans to caption this photo of Aaron Martens fishing with Dave Mercer in his boat from Day 1 of fishing on Lake Champlain. Some of our favorites are below. Follow @bass_nation on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/p/BXG7g46HqYj/?taken-by=bass_nation) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/BASS_nation/status/891051949415649281), and submit your caption ideas.

DiclollyRick: I think I need a bigger boat...

CorryMitchell29: G-g-g-g-giant bag!!!!

sandersontii: "This man is entergetic "

coonassassasin: When you wanna push the camera man in the water but the fish are bitting

keefarini: "I'm telling you, A Mart is gonna win this Derby"

triton_boats_official: I said give me two minutes about dropshotting not 20

dtopken: Forget fishing, let's talk hockey ay?

kctfishn: You're in my backswing Mercer

daniel_sinagoga: Mercer: watch this im going to push Martens in! Martens: bro I'm right here I can here you...

gavin_pennington_15: "Coming up, I'll tell you 10 personal secrets about Aaron Martens"

b_kyboy: One of A Martens strengths is his ability to concentrate and block out distractions....like me

thejamespowell: "Now earlier in the season, we found that glancing to the left would trigger a bite. Aaron hasn't had much luck with that technique here on Champlain, so he's trying the right-side glance instead."

greg_ofd27: I'm over here Mercer

kellyraem23: "Now if you follow me to the back of the boat I will show you where the bathrooms are....."

kyletrent70: When your friend videos your secret spot

cvags_1: Appreciate ya....now get off my boat I'm trying to win a title.

kaleb_chockley: "excuse me, who did you say the king of drop shotting is??"

boom_stick_fishing: Shhhhh your scaring the fish

french904: Dave, if you wouldn't mind, I'm about to set the hook.

atate_3: Mercer: "So break down what you're doing for the viewers at home."Martens: "You see that squirrel over there? I think he's guarding a 4 pounder."

maston_22: When you and your friend are arguing about what throw at what time and your friend wants to let the world know and start a debate

red_machine93: Don't you ever ask Aaron what he's throwin on the day!

p.r.rowe: Mercer: Yep hang in there Aaron, now folks off to KVDs boat. Martens: Gosh Kevin always gets the attention.

masterwrangler: "...and the fish are this way!"

troysmith_angler: A-Mart... Mercer if you don't get off the deck of my boat ,you and the camera guy are swimmin. Mercer.. And were outta here .

Afternoon warmup

The temperature has warmed to 70 degrees in Plattsburgh, but it's about to get hotter when compared to the fishing action.

The Day 1 catch data log from BASSTrakk showed a spike began around noon in the quality of the catches. I'll skip the numbers but can confirm that a couple of factors likely influenced the uptick in weights.

The noontime sunshine pushes the smallmouth and largemouth tighter to the cover, wherever that might be. For largemouth anglers like Jason Christie it means the bass are moving closer to the shoreline reeds and vegetation. Offshore it means the smallmouth will no longer be scattered throughout the water column. Those fish will be drawn to rockpiles and specific objects like isolated boulders.

What we can look forward to is seeing how the finesse anglers dial into the offshore smallmouth bite. And likewise, how the power fishing heats up on the shoreline.

Pages