Lefebre sticking with largemouths

Dave Lefebre, who is from Erie, Pa., and knows plenty about catching smallmouth bass, said he always fishes for largemouth bass when he comes to the St. Lawrence River. Lefebre estimated he caught 60 bass yesterday in culling up to his 9th place total of 21-11.

He's doing it again today. According to BASSTrakk, Lefebre had caught 27 bass at noon in culling up to a 16-pound limit that has him in 6th place. Several anglers talked about concentrating on largemouths before the tournament started. There had been a strong topwater frog pattern in practice. But the leaders on Day 1 flourished on smallmouth bass, with the exception of Lefebre.

"It's overlooked here," he said. "And I don't ever do the same thing twice. If you cover enough water, you can get those 4-pound-average-plus bites. I've weighed as much as 23 pounds here in the past on largemouths."

It's too early to mention what Lefebre is doing different this time to catch largemouth bass on the St. Lawrence River. Whatever it is, it's producing more bites than anything anyone else is doing for smallmouths or largemouths. And he's obviously getting enough big bites to be in contention.

"I should have had more (Thursday)," Lefebre said. "I lost a big one, like a 5 1/2-pounder."

Lefebre up river

I've found Dave Lefebre way up river from where Bill Lowen was fishing.

And Lefebre is basically on the bank flipping and pitching. There's some irony in there somewhere, since we typically find Lowen doing these type things.

And we aren't here long before Lefebre hooks up with one that was in the 4 pound range. And it was green.

He's culling now. And judging by what he just dropped over the side, he's got a nice sack.

I'll learn more soon.

Losing fish gets in your head

It's hard enough to get the "right bites" in an Elite Series tournament. But when you get the bites and lose the bass on the fight, that can become a mental block. Bill Lowen and Steve Kennedy were perfect examples of the "losing bass syndrome" after Day 1. Lowen had conquered his; Kennedy remains haunted.

The combination of smallmouth bass on light tackle in strong current on the St. Lawrence River can accentuate LBS (losing bass syndrome).

"This is three times in a row that we've been here and I should have been leading after Day 1," a frustrated Kennedy said Thursday, when he finished in 67th place with 16-3.

Obviously, it's not a problem everywhere for Kennedy, since he's coming off a victory in the Elite Series tournament at Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle. But it's a big cause for concern here. So much so that Kennedy fished outside the tournament waters near Massena for four days prior to the practice period starting on Monday.

"I practiced sticking 'em," Kennedy said. "It's not getting the bites, it's getting them in the boat that's my problem here. I was practicing catching. I had time to experiment with baits that I normally wouldn't have time to do in practice."

Apparently, that practice didn't pay off. Kennedy had numerous stories of the big ones that got away Thursday. Without going into too much detail, Kennedy is trying to match a swimbait with a heavy jighead, and, well, he's still looking for the right combo, one that won't give a head-shaking smallmouth an advantage when hooked.

Lowen, on the other hand, was all smiles after landing his second-place total of 23-6, saying, "I needed today so bad. Everything was clean. It went like it was supposed to.

"When (losing fish) gets in your head, that's a bad place to be. This season, for whatever reason, fish I've caught the same way a thousand times, I've been losing. I can't think of any reason why it's been that way. So today for me was huge."

The bite has changed for Lowen

It's obvious the bite has changed for Lowen. He's still stuck on four fish with a little more than the 10 pounds BassTrakk shows him. But he knows he's got to turn up the heat.

We've decided to pull off of him and let him work without distractions. We are up river to Dave Lefebre. We understand he's working on the largemouth, so we will have a different look at the St. Lawrence River in a little bit.

Does jig imitate catfish fry?

The black synthetic hair jig is once again a key to success for several anglers, just like it was in 2015. There are various theories as to what it imitates that makes it so attractive to smallmouth bass. A leech of some sort is the logical answer. But there's another possibility: catfish fry.

If you recall, a 1/8th-ounce black synthetic hair jig was a key bait for Edwin Evers when he won here in 2015. Evers remembered that he had a package of them in his truck, jigs that had been given to him at a tackle show several years previously by Andy Vallombroso, owner of Andy's Custom Bass Lures in Madison, Conn.

Vallombroso is a longtime, well-known lure-maker in the northeast. Roland Martin's 1994 Bassmaster win on the Connecticut River came primarily on one of Andy's jigs. Vallombroso has spent many hours underwater, studying crawfish, baitfish and anything else a bass might eat. Vallombroso has photos of catfish fry that closely resemble a black hair jig.

Last night after the tournament, as we were carp fishing on a small dock near our awsome "rent house" located just across the cove from the weigh-in site, our Bassmaster.com crew noticed a school of catfish fry swimming near the dock. Yes, the resemblance to a small black hair jig is remarkable. And it would explain why anglers simply swim the jig, rather than hop it or give it any other action, when fishing for smallmouth. Catfish fry casually swim; they don't hop or dart.

The catfish fry theory is just that, a theory. But it's plausible. And it really doesn't matter what the synthetic hair jig is imitating, as long as smallmouth bass continue to gobble it.

One final note: It is a synthetic hair jig, not one made from marabou. Vallombroso tied his first ones after buying a gorilla suit from a costume shop and trimming the hair off it.

LIVE: KVD gets started on Day 2

Day 1 leader Kevin VanDam lands two early keepers to get his day started.

Lowen with No. 4

Bill Lowen has added his fourth keeper but it wasn't much when you consider the average fish weighed in by this field was 3-plus pounds yesterday.

He has two in the box that do not come close to that. But he has two that are 4-pounds or better. Not sure if today is slower than yesterday. But we get the feeling that it is.

He's staying shallow and covering more water now than earlier. But the bites seem to have tapered off. Some of that taper might be because Matt Herren has left and we aren't getting as many chances to see fish get hooked. But it's more likely that this first area is either running out of fish are they are getting wise to the situation.

Either way we are sticking for a while to see how it plays out.

Movers and shakers on the bubble

It’s that time of year. Every fish counts in the quest for the world championship and the AOY race. This is where seasons are made or broken during the last swing of the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Just from Day 1, where the Top 20 anglers amassed 20-plus-pound limits, the Elite’s stock has stirred as a busy day on Wall Street. If you refer back to my earlier blog, you will see that there are 39 invitations to the Classic at stake, four of which have been claimed by prior qualification.

After Day 1, the four spots are now claimed by Alton Jones (449), Brandon Coulter (443), David Mullins (438), and Matt Lee (436).

The first 10 anglers out of the Classic as of Day 2 on the St. Lawrence are:

40. Scott Rook (431)
41. Kelley Jaye (425)
42. Ish Monroe (425)
43. Bradley Roy (417)
44. Adrian Avena (416)
45. Clifford Pirch (416)
46. Fletcher Shyrock (412)
47. Jacob Powroznik (408)
48. Brett Hite (404)
49. Marty Robinson (403)

Let’s take a look at some notable moves in our AOY points race around the bubble:

Stock up ↑ Stock down ↓

UP:

Marty Robinson (71 ↑ 49)
Brett Hite (65 ↑ 48)
Bill Lowen (48 ↑ 34)
Kelley Jaye (52 ↑ 41)
Alton Jones (45 ↑ 36)
Josh Bertrand (40 ↑ 35)

DOWN:

Andy Montgomery (54 ↓ 74)
Keith Poche (37 ↓ 57)
Dean Rojas (39 ↓ 55)
David Mullins (26 ↓ 38)
Ish Monroe (30 ↓ 42)
Fletcher Shyrock (34 ↓ 46)

There are still two days of fishing left and two regular season events, so there will be plenty of room for anglers to vie for their spot in the coveted GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

And keep in mind fans, this year the Classic bracket-style event will be held after the AOY Championship, giving the first eight anglers outside of Classic qualification a chance to face head-to-head for a Classic birth.

BassCam: Day 2 game plans

Ott DeFoe needs tips from Marty Robinson, the angler in 5th place after Day 1. Here's what he shares.

Day 1 cut weights for 2017

We've seen some great weights this year on the Bassmaster Elite Series, but most times we are referring to the Top 12 or Top 20 guys. After Day 1 weigh-in at the St. Lawrence River, we referred to the entire field because of how good the field of anglers caught fish. Here are the weights from 51st place at every event of 2017 after one day of competition. The St. Lawrence weight of 17-10 for 51st place surpasses the best Day 1 cut weight by almost 2 pounds.

Cherokee Lake(13-1)
Lake Okeechobee(13-10)
Toledo Bend(13-12)
Ross Barnett(11-5)
Sam Rayburn(15-12)
Lake Dardanelle(11-12)
St. Lawrence(17-10)



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