Wolak takes 2010 Northern Open lead

High winds wreaked havoc on the 200-boat field on Day 2 of the first 2010 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open. Boats and anglers alike suffered on fish-factory Lake Champlain.

 Pro angler Matt Sphar of Pavilion, N.Y., may have suffered the worst of the damage. He was en route to the scales with his co-angler when the bolts holding his motor to the transom gave way under the repeated pounding of 8- to 10-foot waves were doling out. Thankfully, Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer was following the same path.

 In all the mayhem, it was the Elite Series pros who capitalized, taking over three of the top five spots. However, the race is very tight and it is still anyone's game. Less than two pounds separate the top five anglers.

 Dave Wolak of Wake Forest, N.C., moved to the top spot from 7th place with a 19-6 bag for a two-day total of 37-15. Wolak feels like he is on the fish to win the tournament but Saturday will determine whether that is the case.

 "I think I can repeat today's (Friday's) weight. I lost a big one yesterday that was about six pounds, so I'm in an area with good fish," said Wolak. "This is a multi-species lake, there are just as many smallmouth as there are largemouth. Today, I went for smallmouth first, got about 15 pounds worth and that put my mind at ease so I took my time and went looking for largemouth. By the end of the day I was able to cull every one of my smallies."

 Ish Monroe of Hughson, Calif., retained second position with a Friday bag that weighed 17-11 for a two-day total of 37-12. Once again, Monroe threw his Phat Frog, but lacked the big bites to break the 20-pound mark for the second consecutive day.

 "Hopefully I can pull it out for the win, but I may run out of fish, you never know," he said. "I'll definitely be using the Phat Frog again Saturday and hopefully I can get some bigger bites."

 As for Sphar, he landed 15th despite the boat troubles.

 "We were negotiating the waves when 'wham!' my motor tore off," said Sphar. "It scared us pretty bad, and we were drifting in high seas, dead in the water. However, James Niggemeyer saw what happened to us and was kind enough to take me, my co-angler and our fish back with him. That's when the real punishment began. We had a long ride back to the dock and I was on the front deck the whole time. I'll sleep pretty well tonight."

 While the field was cut only the top 30 competitors after Friday's competition, the possibility of an angler coming from way back still exists. Jason Knapp came from the teens to claim his first BASS win at the 2009 Lake Champlain Northern Open.

 Pro anglers are vying for the top prize of $54,000 and change as well as valuable points toward one of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic berths afforded to the top two anglers from the Northern Opens division.

 In third in the pro division was Brian Gates of Rutland, Vt. Gates managed 16-12 Friday for a two-day total of 36-3. In fourth was Mike Haggerty of Hendersonville, Tenn., who is doing well on Lake Champlain despite it being his first time there. He brought 19-11 to the scales today for a total of 36-2. In fifth is Elite Series pro J. Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga., who scored big today with 18-3 to pull him up from 11th place. His two-day total stands at 36-0.

 On the co-angler side, Vincent Mucci of North Haven, Ct., catapulted from seventh place to take top honors with an 11-10 Friday, bringing his total to 22-5. Behind him was Brent Heyn, whose 10-3 three-fish limit brough his weight up to 21-15. In third was Anthony Savino of Marlboro, N.Y., who sacked 10-6 for a total weight of 20-10.

 Co-anglers are vying for a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $44,000.

 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.

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