Schmitt takes Open lead

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Ronnie Moore

Plattsburgh, N.Y.—Bryan Schmitt had planned on catching a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth bass on Lake Champlain, but he strictly targeted smallmouth Thursday to take the lead in the pro division of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open #3.

When the lake' surface turned slick in the afternoon, Schmitt knew what to do. He knew Lake Champlain smallmouth liked to feed on calm, sunny days.

"So I leaned on the smallmouth as hard as I could and that really helped me out," said Schmitt, who took over the lead with 40 pounds, 15 ounces.

"I had a lot of fun out there and hopefully I have one more day of it." The Deale, Md., angler caught a five-fish limit of smallmouth bass weighing 20-6 today, while on Wednesday he weighed in a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth totaling 20-9.

The first morning Schmitt concentrated on largemouth and caught a couple of keepers but had to switch over to a smallmouth pattern that he ran the rest of the day to complete his limit. Thursday he decided to stick with brown bass especially when the weather turned favorable for a smallmouth bite.

Both days he has keyed on three spots and he said he never saw another competitor's boat.  

"I really sat on those spots a long time and tried to work them the best I could," the 35-year-old Chesapeake Bay charter guide said. "Tomorrow I can go lean on the smallmouth again the rest of the day and I am hoping a couple of things that I am doing will work since there shouldn't be anybody there."

A couple of missed fish plagued Day 1 leader Jesse Tacoronte who slipped into second place with 40-8. "I jumped two 4 1/2-pounders off," Tacoronte said.

"I had one of them in my hand and it jumped over my hand and broke the line." The 49-year-old owner of Enigma Fishing used different baits and a different approach to catch smallmouth today but still caught most of his 19-5 limit by 9:38 a.m.

The Orlando, Fla., angler plans to focus on two spots that are loaded with smallmouth for the final day.

"I haven't seen a single boat anywhere near my water," he said. "So who knows how many hundreds of thousands of fish I have to myself. With smallies you can throw in the same spot a hundred times and catch 40 fish."

Rounding out the Top 5 in the pro division are Chris Molineaux, Hope Valley, R.I., third place, 40-4; Wil Hardy II, Harlem, Ga., fourth, 38-14; and Alton Jones Jr., Lorena, Texas, fifth, 38-5. Molineaux currently holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass with his Day 2 largemouth weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces.

Drop-shotting with one of his own lures helped Nicholas Sokolowski, Brewerton, N.Y., move into first place in the co-angler division with 23-4. The 22-year-old construction worker and owner of Soco Baits caught three keepers weighing 12-5 today with a Soco Baits Large Fry, a 2 1/2-inch minnow bait, he rigged on a drop shot.

The Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau (www.goadirondack.com) is the host for this week's Northern Open. The final-day launch and weigh-in featuring the Top 12 anglers in the pro and co-angler divisions will be held at Dock Street Landing at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh.