PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — The eighth of nine regular-season events began today at the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, and Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, leads after the first day of competition on the strength of a 21-pound, 1-ounce limit of bass. He is also leading in the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament with a 6-1 largemouth bass — that is a rarity in this northern New York inland sea.
Faircloth said he was surprised by what he caught — especially because his day started rather slow, then picked up in the afternoon.
"I caught my best fish in the middle of the day," Faircloth said. "I have some good water to fish, but whether those areas will replenish, it's hard to say. I weighed one smallmouth and four largemouth. That 6-pounder I caught was really unexpected."
Faircloth added that he's drop shotting for smallmouth and "fishing plastics" for largemouth.
Another Texan, Alton Jones of Lorena, is in second place after Day 1 with 20-11. Jones remarked how differently the lake is fishing compared to the last time he competed here. Its been 10 years since the last Elite event here, and "the grass has totally changed," Jones said.
"I weighed all largemouth," he said. "I'm fishing areas I've fished before, but I'm fishing different spots within those areas. I think the smallmouth are in a postspawn funk. I think you're going to need to weigh some largemouth this week to win. But if this was August or September, you could win here with smallmouth."
Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., is focusing on smallmouth and is currently in third place with 20-4. Kriet noted that he's running north, where he caught an estimated 50 smallmouth today.
"I'm switching up a lot," Kriet said. "I'm drop shotting, using an Eco-Pro Tungsten jig; I caught my biggest on a swimbait, and I'm using the new Big Bite Baits Limit Getter. I would have been happy with 15 or 16 pounds, so I'm really excited about today."
Lake Champlain again proved to be one of the best bass fisheries in the Northeast, and 107 of the 109 anglers caught a limit today.
Yesterday's competition day was cancelled due to weather, so the full field of 109 pros will fish tomorrow. The Top 51 will compete on Championship Sunday. Currently, the Top 51 cut weight is 16-9 — another testament to the quality of the Lake Champlain fishery.
Brandon Palaniuk, tied for 21st with 18-1, retained his lead in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Jason Christie (fifth, 19-8) moved into second with 700 points. Jacob Wheeler (30th, 17-12) moved into third.
Anglers launch Saturday from the City Marina in downtown Plattsburgh at 6:15 a.m. ET. Weigh-in begins at 3:15 p.m. at the Plattsburgh City Beach.
The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo will open at the beach at noon. Companies including Huk, Berkley and Power-Pole will be onsite featuring their latest products. Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels will be giving out a free set of tires. Skeeter, Yamaha, Nitro, Triton and Mercury will be offering free boat and motor demo rides. Toyota will have interactive displays such as designing your own lure and a NASCAR video game. There will also be food and beverage vendors and a watercross competition. All activities are open to the public.
The event is hosted by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau and the City of Plattsburgh.