Despite the wealth of limits toted across the scales on the first day of the 2010 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens, big bites were hard to come by. To Elite Series pros who have not already done so, the Northern Opens represent another avenue to qualify for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. The competition is as stiff as ever with 23 Elite anglers gunning for one of the two Classic spots available to Northern Opens anglers.
With Wednesday night ushering in torrential rains and winds, Lake Champlain was thoroughly churned up and presented a whole different set of circumstances than the practice period. Still, 172 anglers were able to land a five-fish limit of bass and two anglers broke the 20 pound mark.
Travis Manson of Green Bay, Wis., managed 21 pounds, 5 ounces, Thursday despite losing power midday.
"It got kind of rough there for a bit because I lost my batteries, and we had to be towed for a while," he said. "However, I think what I had will hold out for Friday."
What he had' was was top secret and Manson was reticent to reveal any details. Manson's lead is scant though as Elite pro Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., was hot on Manson's heels with 20-1. Monroe worked a Snag Proof Ish's Phat Frog to entice largemouth from under the vegetation that is abundant in certain areas.
"There were not a lot of anglers fishing where I was at," Monroe said, hopeful to retain his solitude for Day 2. "I figured something out that I think will pay off."
In third place was Mike Haggerty of Hendersonville, Tenn., with 19-11. This is Haggerty's first time seeing Lake Champlain. He relied on "textbook" techniques for catching smallmouth. Behind him was Elite Series pro Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C., who is also fishing for a Classic berth. He had 19-7. Tied with Robinson was Brian Gates of Rutland, Vt.
Elite pros Matt Greenblatt and Dave Wolak were sixth and seventh, respectively.
With a full field of 200 anglers, pros are fishing for a top prize of more than $51,000. Co-anglers are vying for a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $44,000. Leading the charge was Johnny Claeys of Warwick, N.Y. Claeys managed to bring in a three-fish limit that weighed 12-11. In second was Brent Heyn of South Hero, Vt., with 11-12. In third was Justin Moore of Portage, Mich., with 11-9.
Fans are invited to catch the Lake Champlain action by attending the morning takeoffs and afternoon weigh-ins, all open to the public and free of charge. Boats will launch at 5:30 a.m. ET at Wilcox Dock on Cumberland Avenue in Plattsburgh. The weigh-ins will begin each day -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- at 2 p.m. ET at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin, Dock Street Landing in Plattsburgh.