OCEANSIDE, Calif. - The Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored By Power-Pole® rolls into Ticonderoga, New York, June 26 and 27 with competitors anxiously awaiting a shot at the world-famous black bass fishery on expansive Lake Champlain. For many bass fans, this massive waterway is a bucket-list destination that also features superb action with lake trout, salmon and a variety of other fun-to-catch species.
“After years of heavy demand for us to bring an event to the Northeast, we finally landed a destination that’s hard to beat,” says an enthusiastic A.J. McWhorter, tournament director for the two-day, catch, photograph and release (CPR) event. “This is a storied fishery with truly great bassin’ potential. We can’t wait to see what this part of the country will showcase in terms of both it’s fishing productivity and generating new anglers for our tournament trail. This lake shares a border with Vermont, but we’ll be doing all of our launching from the New York side and competitors will have vast areas to cover and explore in their search for the big ones.”
Make no mistake about it, Lake Champlain bass fishing is top shelf. With nearly 600 miles of shoreline, 435 square miles of surface area and a maximum depth of roughly 400 feet, you’ll find bass habitat of every type ranging from weed beds and shoreline brush in shallow sections of the many bays and coves to man-made structure like bridges and pilings. Farther off the bank, an abundance of rock piles and natural ledges can be found as you progress out to more open water or explore long, sloping points. As a rule, oft broken, the lake’s largemouths tend to favor the flats and near-shore sections while the bronzebacks roam a little deeper – but the two species do co-mingle in some areas and it’s likely that many competitors will check in with mixed-bag limits at the end of each day.
“I’m predicting it will take more than 190 inches of bass to win this event,” says Brian Baulsir, 38, of Saratoga Springs, New York, who is no stranger to these waters. “The bass here are big and fat because the lake holds huge schools of northern baitfish like yellow perch, smelt and alewives. It’s chock-full of 15-to-18-inch fish, plus a fair number that can top 20 inches as well. My best largemouth on this lake is a 6-pounder taken off Crown Point that was absolutely stuffed to the gills with baitfish. My best smallmouth here measured 19.75 inches, but a 20-inch bronzeback is a possibility anywhere you launch.”
Baulsir advisers first-timers at Lake Champlain to narrow their focus. “This is big water and while there are a lot of places that look real enticing on a map, once you push off the bank you’ll be awed by how much area there is to cover. Find the structure or water type that matches your strengths and concentrate on a specific area. Roaming too far here can really eat up your time.”
Baulsir, who became a father on June 14 (wife, Erin, and son, Clayton, are doing fine) plans to probe mostly shallow water during this contest. In addition to an arsenal that plays to their own strengths, he suggests anglers bring along weedless frogs for working the bank and thick vegetation, a walk-the-dog-style surface lure for open patches, and a drop-shot rig to probe deeper water. “I’ll be bringing along my favorite St. Croix rods because they are so sensitive and strong,” he says. “My favorite is a 7-foot, 1-inch, medium-fast action Mojo Bass (#MJS71MF) spinning stick that I love for working drop-shot rigs on light lines.”
While Baulsir has experience fishing Lake Champlain, Kurt Smits, 50, from Cincinnati, Ohio will be seeing these legendary waters for the first time. “I can’t wait to get there,” he says. “I’ve got friends who have fished it and they tell me it’s clean and clear. It’s a destination I’ve long wanted to hit and I plan to hit it hard.”
Smits already has a few places picked out where he expects to find a mix of bigmouths and smallmouths. He intends to key on largemouth early, possibly switching over to bronzebacks in slightly deeper water later in the day. “I’ll probably try flipping vegetation for bigmouths both mornings, then move a little deeper for smallmouths in the afternoons,” he offers. “I’ll be throwing small swimbaits and a big TRD. I’m hoping for some overcast skies but no rain. I’ll be using my Hobie PA 12 with 360 Drive. I think it’s going to give me a real edge on this lake because it’s so easy to maneuver and keep in place. It’s like fishing with ‘spot-lock’ capability when it comes to staying on a selected piece of structure or a school of suspended bass. It should be perfect for working long, sloping points that offer both shallow water and deeper areas in close proximity.”
In addition to substantial cash prizes, competitors at Lake Champlain will have plenty more on the line. The top three non-qualified anglers will punch their ticket to the Hobie Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) at Lake Eufaula, Alabama, November 12 – 14. All-important points toward Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App, will be distributed to the top 100 competitors, and the largest bass of the two-day tournament will earn a $400 check for the Bassin’ Big Bass Award. Also up for grabs is the Dakota Lithium Power Move award, which recognizes the angler with the greatest leap up the leader board from Day 1 to Day 2. That prize is a Dakota Power Box with a 10-amp lithium battery.
“It’s going to be a ton of fun to fish here and check out the surrounding communities,” sums up Baulsir. “I can guarantee you are going to see plenty of fish on your electronics. As always, the key is going to come down to who figures them out and makes the most of their opportunities. You’ll have plenty of chances.”
In terms of the surrounding communities, Matthew Courtright, president and CEO of the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, assures that competitors are always welcome. “We love anglers here and annually host between 30 and 40 tournaments. We’re very much looking forward to hosting this Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored By Power-Pole® event,” he says. “Lake Champlain offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the nation and we can’t wait for you to enjoy it. Our Chamber serves five towns, Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Hague, Moriah, and Putnam, NY., and we are perfectly positioned between Lake Champlain and Lake George. In addition to the great fishing, you’ll find historical sites, scenic vistas, restaurants, arts, retail shopping, plus plenty of hiking, biking and walking trails. Bring the family and stay around a few days after the tournament. You’ll have a great time.”