Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why Pros Love (and Hate) Lake Champlain

Virginia pro Jacob Powroznic, who stands in third place after two days of FLW Tour competition at Lake Champlain, displays a fine sample of Champlain's bounties. FLW Photo by David Brown.

Ask pro anglers who travel the nation about favored destinations, and many will quickly mention Lake Champlain, where FLW Tour pros are fishing this week. Why Champlain? Mostly because of mixed opportunity to catch big numbers of big largemouths and smallmouths. There may be nowhere in the country where larger quantities of both species grow to large sizes and where tournaments might be won with all largemouths, all smallmouths or or a mix of the two species.

As much as virtually anyone who likes to catch bass enjoys the opportunity to visit Lake Champlain and ply its waters, many pros don't particuarly like to compete there. Looking at results of the tournament that's going on now, Matthew Stefan's tournament might best illustrate what's NOT to like about Champlain as a tournament venue. Stefan's two-day total of 30 pounds, 3 ounces (two limits, with a 3-pound average per fish) landed him in 61st place, which is out of the money and barely above the middle of the pack.

Champlain is also massive, stretching nearly 200 miles in length, with portions in Vermont, New York and Canada. The good part about the size is that Champlan offers endless-seeming high-quality habitat for largemouths and smallmouths alike. The bad part is that the main lake can get rough in a hurry, and an angler's top spots are often a LONG distance away, making for tough strategical decisions.

At the moment, Virginia pro David Dudley is probably really liking Lake Champlain. Dudley brought in a massive 24-pound bag on day 1, is leading the tournament after two days and seems well on his way to locking down his second consecutive (and third total) FLW Angler of the Year Award.

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