What's at stake: $673,150 in cash to the top 50 Elite pros and valuable points towards qualifying in the Bassmaster Majors, CITGO Bassmaster Classic and the race for the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award. The top 25 co-anglers compete for $115,400 in cash and merchandise.
Telecast: The Champion's Choice will be aired on The CITGO Bassmasters on Saturday, July 22, at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
The Pros Said It
"The bass are in a post-spawn pattern and I think the wind will play a big part in how I do because this is such a gigantic lake. A lot of guys will do the same thing I'm doing. We're going to be in a small area where there's been tournaments won recently. Still, there's so many variables, you never know until you get out there." — Five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Mike Reynolds, 40, Modesto, Calif.
"I had a really good practice a while ago and now it's changed a little bit. The lake has come up and I'm not getting big fish like I was before. I've had to change my strategy and technique. The fish are still there, but I'm catching smaller fish." — 13-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier and winner of the Empire Chase presented by Mahindra Tractors, Tommy Biffle, 48, Wagoner, Okla.
"My expectations are sky high. I've had two good events now, just missed the top 12 in the first Major and I'm qualified for the next Major right now. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to get this thing started. It's Lake Champlain, everyone should have a good time." — Two-time Classic qualifier Lee Bailey, 44, Boaz, Ala., who led Day 1 of the Empire Chase.
"I've had a really tough time so far. All of the fish have been small, so I don't know what I'm going to go do tomorrow. To free my mind and open my mind tomorrow, that will be most important." — Yusuke Miyazaki, 36, Mineola, Texas, who led Day 2 of the Empire Chase.
Reynolds: He'll use heavy rods to catch fish under heavy cover. Like a handful of other anglers, he's fishing the middle-southern area of Champlain in search of largemouth.
Biffle: Just as he did to win on Oneida Lake last week, Biffle will target largemouth bass using both jigs and soft plastics. He's planning to fish both ends of Champlain, targeting offshore shallow grass and predicts it will take 15 pounds a day to make the cut.
Bailey: Bailey is targeting largemouth bass in shallow water 2 to 6 feet deep. He is flipping 5/16-ounce to 1/2-ounce jigs most of the week, and trying his hand at a new lure, the MegaStrike Evolution jig. Bailey estimates a daily average of 17 pounds a day to make the Elite 12 final day cut.
Miyazaki: He's suffered mechanical problems the last two days, making it difficult for him to focus on fishing. Miyazaki found lots of 2- and 3-pounders, but doesn't believe he's tracked down the 14- to 15-pound limits he'll need to make the cut. When competition begins Thursday, he'll change locations and lures and think freely — that will be the key to his success.
Location and Field
Champions Choice — CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series