Play the numbers game


Andy Crawford

Strip away the beautiful natural scenery, forget about the mostly pleasant weather and anglers will still adore Lake Champlain. Why? Because it is absolutely loaded with bass — the green ones and the brown ones.

Sounds like a dream scenario, but a catch-fest kinda lake can quickly become a nightmare for the tournament angler that becomes so enamored with a bent rod that they lose sight of the necessary numerical calculations.

Summarily, 3-pound smallmouth are not hard to find on Lake Champlain; and while everyone of these firecrackers is a blast to catch, 3-pound smallmouth will not win an Elite tournament. That’s why the wheels of analysis and time management turn constantly behind those polarized sunglasses.

Gotta have a Plan A, B and C.

Gotta have a target weight.

Gotta judge each catch and factor it into emerging or declining trends.

Most importantly — gotta know when to pull the plug.

Day by Day

We saw such key decisions on Friday, as Hartman decided to start his day on the spot that quickly yielded a 4-pound smallmouth at the very end of Day 1. Returning the next morning, Hartman tallied a solid limit in short order; but when he determined he wasn’t upgrading as he needed, he moved north, where he found two late-day fish that kept him in the lead.

Feider also made a key move yesterday. After collecting a good bag of smallmouth on a grassy flat, he moved to the marina that produced a 5-2 largemouth on Day 1 and cracked another “bucket head” — this one, a 6-6 that currently leads the Phoenix Boats Big Bass standings.

Day 3 began with strong morning action, as BASSTrakk had two-day leader Jamie Hartman, Seth Feider, Koby Kreiger, Dave Mullins and Micah Frazier around the 15-pound mark by 8:30.

That’s certainly the right way to start a day, but these pros know there’s a lot more work to be done. With the general consensus that a Champlain win will require pretty close to a 20-pound daily average, you can bet that each of the top-40 anglers fishing today are well aware of where they entered Day 3 and what they need to do to reach Championship Sunday.

Hartman demonstrated the right plug-pulling judgement this morning by enduring a dry spell and sticking with his opening spot until it produced a key upgrade. BASSTrakk showed Hartman boating a 4-4 at 8:19. Nearly 90 minutes later, he replaced an earlier keeper with a 4-pounder that pushed him to an unofficial weight of 17 1/2 pounds.