Top lures at Lake Champlain 2023

The Inland Sea was the place to be at the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain. This was the scene during practice, when calm conditions prevailed. That would change when the competition began. Photo: Craig Lamb
Boat positioning and keeping baits on vertical targets was a challenge, as strong mostly southerly winds ran directly up the north-south oriented lake. 
Forward-facing sonar might be a game changer, but you still had to get the catch into the boat. 
Japanese pro Kyoya Fujita masterfully did all of the above, racking up a four-day total weight of 86 pounds, 12 ounces. 
The Bassmaster Elite rookie has four Japanese angler-of-the-year titles and multiple wins, and now what he called his most coveted prize, the blue trophy and with it, $100,000. Fujita punctuated the win having qualified for four of eight Top 10 finals. 
Click here to buy these lures at Bass Pro Shops.
Matt Robertson (10th; 80-2)
Robertson alternated between two baits for targeting smallmouth seen on his forward-facing sonar. 
The first choice was this new 5/8-ounce Berkley PowerBait Switch 3.5. 
Robertson also used a 4-inch Berkley PowerBait Power Jerk Shad, on a 5/8-ounce ball head jig. 
Austin Felix (9th; 80-6)
Felix’s primary lure rig was chosen to target a wide strike zone for use with forward-facing sonar. 
That choice was this All Terrain Tackle Smallie Smasher Swimbait Head, with a Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ. Felix alternated between 1/4 and 3/8 weights, depending on the depth range of his strike zone. 
Jacob Foutz (8th; 81-7)
Foutz paired a swimbait with his forward-facing sonar strategy for smallmouth.
He targeted deeper fish with this Strike King 3X Z-Too, rigged on a 1/2-ounce ball head jig. 
Patrick Walters (7th; 81-12)
Walters alternated between reaction and finesse baits to cover the mood of his targeted smallmouth. 
For reaction bites he chose this new Rapala PXR Mavrik 110 jerkbait. 
For slower presentations, Walters used this Zoom Super Fluke on a 1/4-ounce ball head jig. 
Alex Redwine (6th; 82-2)
Redwine used a jig designed specifically for use with forward-facing sonar. 
That choice was a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce All Terrain Tackle Scope To Jig. The jig is made with a tungsten head that is 40% denser than lead, increasing return visibility on the screen to see it going through the water column. 
Jay Przekurat (5th; 83-0)
Przekurat zeroed in on his smallmouth with a simple setup. 
That was this Strike King 3X Baby Z-Too, rigged on a 3/8-ounce Bass Tactics Bryan Gustafson’s Smeltinator Jig
Click here to buy these lures at Bass Pro Shops.
Bryant Smith (4th; 83-1)
Smith alternated between a Damiki rig and drop shot. Smith made the drop shot with a Strike King 3X Baby Z-Too on a No. 1 Roboworm Rebarb Hook, with a 3/8-ounce weight. 
He made the Damiki with a Strike King 3X Baby Z-Too, on 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jig heads. 
Smith’s alternative bait was a drop shot with a Strike King 3X Baby Z-Too on a No. 1 Roboworm Rebarb Hook, with a 3/8-ounce weight. 
Cody Huff (3rd; 85-5)
Huff used a simple jig head and soft plastic combo for his forward-facing sonar pattern. 
He made it with a 1/2-ounce VMC SLJ Sleek Jig, with a 5-inch Strike King 3X Baby Z-Too
Huff downsized the same jig to a 1/8-ounce version, with a Zoom Tiny Fluke. 
Justin Atkins (2nd; 85-6)
Atkins went against the grain of his peers, using a forward-facing sonar finesse bait with a twist. 
He used this 1/4-ounce underspin jig with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm. 
Atkins made a drop-shot rig with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm, rigged on a No. 1 Berkley Fusion19 Drop Shot Hook, with a 1/2-ounce weight for quickly reaching deeper smallmouth.
Kyoya Fujita (1st; 86-12)
Fujita alternated between lures and rigs of varying design and weights to cover the wide strike zone he fished using forward-facing sonar. He targeted smallmouth following schools of baitfish, with a strike zone from 12 to 30 feet. 
He used a Damiki-style rig made with this Jackall Revoltage Drift Fry 5.2, rigged on a 2/0 hook with 1/8-ounce weight. 
Alternatively, Fujita rigged a drop shot using this Jackall Yammy 4.5, cut down to 3 inches, with a No. 4 hook and 1/4-ounce weight. 
For deeper bites, he reached the smallmouth with this new 38-gram Jackall Counter Back Spoon that will be available in September in Japan.