What to watch for

This morning Randall Tharp probably said it best when asked about how this week will shape up on the St. Lawrence River.

“They saved the best for last.”

Indeed. Here are five reasons why and what we all can watch for during the tournament.

#1 Lower water: Last year “no wake” zones were imposed on the river to protect shoreline docks and homes due to unusually high water in the Great Lakes (those drain into the river). This year the water is much lower, so low that navigation is a challenge in shallow water. Shoreline areas that produced great catches last year are now out of the game.

#2 Not the same river: The smallmouth have moved out of the shallow areas into deeper water, concentrating in massive schools. That is the most ideal scenario for smallmouth fishing on northern waters, or just about anywhere else. The fish are easier to find and pattern.

#3 Bigger than last year: Is that possible? During practice some anglers reported catching their personal best smallmouth, 7 pounds and heavier. “They seem to be getting healthier, heavier, every year we come here,” said Randall Tharp. So we can expect to see a parade of trophy smallmouth cross the stage.

#4 The one that got away: Healthier every year? Probably so. The fish being caught are unusually wide in girth, shorter in length. They are also more challenging to land in the current. We are likely hear anglers lamenting about the one that got away. That could make or break some of the anglers trying to regain valuable AOY points or win the tournament.

#5 AOY shakeup: Based on all of the above, and the heavy weights that are anticipated, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race could get tighter.