Elite Series swings north for crucial event at Lake Champlain

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B.A.S.S.

Plattsburgh, N.Y., will host the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain July 8-11.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Since the Bassmaster Elite Series season began back in February, Seth Feider has been tightening his stranglehold on the all-important Angler of the Year standings.

Now the season is heading down its homestretch, and Feider will have a chance to etch his name into pro fishing history as the schedule swings North for the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain.

Competition days will be July 8-11, with daily takeoffs from Plattsburgh City Marina at 7 a.m. ET and weigh-ins back at the marina each day at 3 p.m. 

It’s a lake — and a region of the country — the Minnesota pro knows well.

“I understand there have probably been a lot of people thinking I would tank while the schedule was still down South — I was expecting that myself,” said Feider, who currently holds a 48-point AOY lead over Oklahoma pro Jason Christie. “Looking at that schedule, seeing the St. Johns River and the Sabine River, I thought those would be the two that sank me. But they ended up being two of my best tournaments.

“The position I’m in with AOY, I’m probably never going to see again. So, I don’t want to have good tournaments all year and mess up one of the ones I’ve been looking forward to the most.”

During B.A.S.S.’s most recent visit to Champlain — in August of 2020 — Feider finished second by targeting a mixture of largemouth and smallmouth the first three days. He was forced to switch solely to smallmouth on the final day when his largemouth bite dried up, but he still caught 19 pounds, 14 ounces and finished a little more than a pound back of winner Brandon Palaniuk. 

Feider says relying on the knowledge he acquired during last year’s event won’t be an option. 

“The places I caught them last year, I’m not even gonna practice those places,” he said. “Because I had such a good finish, all of those places aren’t secret anymore. They got hammered, and they can’t survive that.

“You may as well just erase those places from your brain.”

One thing he does expect to resemble last year is his strategy for targeting mixed bags of smallmouth and largemouth.

“My game plan every time I’ve been there has been to catch 15, 16, 17, 18 pounds of smallies and then go catch two big bucketheads to fill out a big bag,” he said. “I’ll spend most of my practice looking for largemouth just because I think it’s harder to find the big ones. 

“Most of the places that have smallmouth have 3- to 3 1/2-pounders. But with the largemouth, it seems like there’s a million 2- to 2 1/2-pounders and just a couple of places that have those 4-plus-pound fish.”

He said the one exception to the “mixed bag” scenario could be if the Ticonderoga region of Lake Champlain is still on fire. It’s a portion of the lake that is known for producing primarily largemouth, but it’s sometimes only good during the early part of the summer.

“I think they spawn earlier down there and then move offshore onto some really obvious stuff, and they get beat up,” he said. “The last two times we’ve been to Champlain it was August and late July, and it really wasn’t happening down there. 

“If it happens to still be on fire when we get there, you could catch all largemouth and win it. You could see somebody catch 22 or 23 pounds of largemouth a day, at least for the first two or three days.”

Among the techniques he expects to play well for the week are topwater for both species (walking baits for smallmouth and frogs for largemouth), flipping soft plastics and jigs for largemouth, hair jigs and drop shots for smallmouth and maybe even Carolina-rigged plastics for both species.

“We’re hitting Champlain at a good time — and I really don’t think there’s a bad time to hit it,” Feider said. “I’m assuming most stuff is going to be done spawning. If there are a few left, they’ll be smallmouth.

“But it’ll be a typical Champlain tournament where you can catch them any way you want.”

An Elite Series field that began the year with 101 anglers is now down to 95 after three pros dropped out earlier in the season and three more — Rick MorrisBrett Preuett and Clent Davis — exited due to various issues since the last regular-season event on Lake Guntersville in May.

The full field will fish Days 1 and 2 with the Top 45 advancing to the semifinal round on Saturday. Only the Top 10 will advance to Championship Sunday with a chance to win the $100,000 first-place prize and the coveted blue trophy awarded to each Elite Series champion.

Live coverage for all four days of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live with the tournament leaders beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. 

The Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau.