Bassmaster Elites to converge on picturesque Lake Champlain
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published July 19, 2017
The world's best bass fishermen will be catching mixed bags of fat largemouth and smallmouth while surrounded by some of the country's most beautiful scenery in upstate New York at the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels out of Plattsburgh, July 27-30.
The last time the Elite Series visited the huge lake was during July 2007, when Alabama's Tim Horton won with a four-day total of 83 pounds, 10 ounces. The lake forms a border between northeastern New York and Vermont stretching approximately 125 miles in length, 14 miles at its widest and boasting a max depth of about 400 feet.
As the season is winding down, a $100,000 payday is not the only thing on the line. After this derby, there is just one regular-season event remaining on Michigan's Lake St. Clair. The field of 109 anglers will have their final opportunities to earn valuable Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points.
Point totals in the Top 50 earn an invitation to the Toyota Bassmaster AOY Championship on Minnesota's Mille Lacs Lake, and from there a possible berth into the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.
"Tournament catch rates have been very good over recent years on Champlain," said Bernie Pientka, fisheries biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. "The popularity of both species of bass has been increasing, and a very healthy resource exists thanks to the lake's dynamic forage base and modern catch-and-release practices."
Available baitfish include sunfish, yellow perch, golden shiners and alewives, said Pientka.
"Recently, we've really seen the bass' focus shift from traditional prey species like sunfish and perch to a heavier focus on the alewife population," he said. "As a result, the bass are very healthy and in plentiful numbers. I fully expect to see a smallmouth tip the scales at 5 pounds or better, and a largemouth over 6 pounds."
He also mentioned that a 20-pound, five-bass limit each day is very likely, which would put the event on par with the one Horton won a decade ago.
"It's been a cool spring and early summer in this part of the country," Pientka said. "The water north to south is cooler on average for this time of year, and that will impact how anglers approach their patterns. The bass quality won't suffer very much, but the fish may be spread out and somewhat unpredictable when compared to years past."
Overall, Pientka believes Lake Champlain is in fantastic shape and will really show off when the Elite Series anglers begin competition on Thursday, July 27.
Takeoff will occur each morning at 6:15 a.m. ET out of Plattsburgh City Marina, and weigh-in will take place at 3:15 p.m. near the Plattsburgh City Beach.
The event is hosted by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau and the City of Plattsburgh.