Friday, June 24, 2011

FLW EverStart Lake Champlain Day 2: Avena Leads for a Second Day!

by David A. Brown

Avena taking commnad of Lake Champlain.
(Photo: David A. Brown FLW)

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Lake Champlain didn’t make things easy for Adrian Avena, but the New Jersey pro stuck to his plan and held onto the top spot at the EverStart Northern Division tournament on Lake Champlain.

After grabbing the day-one lead with 21 pounds, 3 ounces, Avena added a day-two limit of 16-10 and held off all challengers with his 37-13 total. Confident that he could get back on the fish he worked yesterday, Avena ran south to Ticonderoga and. The day’s rainy conditions weren’t a big deal, but a southeast wind whipped the lake into a washing machine, so the trip was grueling to say the least.

“Today, I got down there a little faster than I thought I would and I left myself about two hours to get back and I cut it close,” he said. “But I had a decent day down there. I just couldn’t get those kicker bites.”

Avena said the rough ride left him with some housekeeping chores before he could start fishing. This brief delay probably cost him some weight.

“It was pretty rough the first 15 or so miles and when I got there my rod locker was destroyed and all my rods were tangled,” Avena said. “My co-angler just tossed out there and caught a 5-5. He caught another one about 4 ½ and those were two bites I really needed.”

Avena said his bait selection was similar to that of day one, but he had to scramble and keep fresh baits in front of the fish. He caught one good fish on a Lucky Craft crankbait, some on a 4-inch swimbait and several more by flipping 3/8-ounce black/brown/amber All-Terrain jig with a Berkley Chigger Craw trailer and a Zoom Brush Hog.

Lucarelli rises to second

With an 18-pound, 7-ounce bag paired with his day-one weight of 18-6, Joe Lucarelli, of Center Harbor, N.H. has been the most consistent pro in the top-10. His total weight of 36-13 has him in second place and just a pound off the lead going into the final round.

Today, Lucarelli caught his fish on a Strike King HC 2.5 crankbait. He found his fish in an area with very little in the way of defining features. Despite the mystery, he was keen to capitalize on the opportunity and wrapped up his day early.

“It’s a stupid, nothing bank and I do not understand why the fish are there,” Lucarelli said. “They’re there and I don’t argue with them. I made one pass down the bank and caught four, turned around, made another pass and caught one. I went to another spot, culled one fish and turned around and came home at 8:30.

“I fished this spot in practice with a north wind and it didn’t matter – they were there. We’ve had a south wind the past two days and it just didn’t matter. They’re using this bank for some reason. These fish are all spawned-out and I think they’re just on the bank recovering and feeding.”

Lucarelli said his father Steve – a past Champlain champion – played an essential role in his day-two success. Both Lucarellis were heading for Ticonderoga this morning when Joe’s boat broke down. Steve switched boats so his son could fish, while he coordinated the task of getting Joe’s boat back to port.

Jig and swimbait push Babineau to third

Glenn Babineau, of Mechanicville, N.Y., started day two in seventh place with 18 pounds, 4 ounces and added 18-6 to boost his total to 36-10 and gain four spots to third.

Babineau’s primary tactics were flipping a 3/4-ounce Stamina jig with a Zoom Super Chunk Jr. trailer and slow rolling a Strike King Shadalicious swimbait. He knew going into the day that this duo would handle whatever he needed to do.

“I guess it’s a confidence thing – you go with what’s good in your head,” he said. “The jig actually got them a little better.”

Babineau fished an inside grass line with an outer edge of about seven to eight feet and an inner depth of four feet. He worked the swimbait along the outside edge and switched to the jig when he moved in shallower.

Townsend flips into fourth

Craig Townsend, of Mt. Holly, N.J., moved up four spots to fourth place with a day-two bag that weighed 17-12 and gave him a tournament total of 35-14. Townsend caught his fish by flipping plastics into shallow grass and around flooded trees.

“I was catching postspawn fish,” he said. “They’re healed up and starting to eat again. By 9 o’clock, I had most of my weight and then I caught my big fish (a 5-pounder) about 11.”

Townsend fished Ticonderoga and caught plenty of the largemouth that dominate the lake’s south end. Notably, he said he caught one keeper smallmouth on a tree in about two feet of water.

Bed fishing Wolfenden improves to fifth

Michael Wolfenden, of Warwick, R.I., also gained four notches to earn the fifth-place position with a total weight of 34-6. He weighed 17-8 on day one and added another 16-14 today. Wolfenden was bed fishing and found his most consistent bites with grubs and tubes.

“In between catching those bed fish, I was working a spinnerbait, a Zara Spook or a Zoom Fluke,” he said. “I was trying to catch fish as I went from bed to bed.”

Remaining in the north end of Champlain, Wolfenden targeted smallmouth and caught most of his fish in about five feet of water. He worked a 15-mile stretch of shoreline in search of quality fish.

“I knew the more traveling I did, the more good sized smallies I could find,” he said. “It was just a matter of spending the time to find the better fish because there are a lot of pound to two-pound fish on the shoreline right now. You just have to put the time into finding the right sized fish.”

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Lake Champlain event:

6th: Thomas Lavictoire, of West Rutland, Vt., 34-4
7th: Adam Singer, of Brookfield, Conn., 33-13
8th: James Schneider, of Watervliet, N.Y., 33-11
9th: Chris Adams, of Rutland, Vt., 33-7
10th: Aaron Wessels, of Watervliet, N.Y., 33-6

Wessels earned Snickers Big Bass award with his 5-3.

Mcleod moves into to co-angler lead

In a sport that sees far more male participation than female, it’s statistically uncommon to find a woman leading a bass tournament. Two days in a row is extremely odd. Well, don’t tell that to Emily Mcleod, of Williston, Vt., who followed in the footsteps of day-one co-angler leader Trudy Noechel to top her division with a 5-fish limit weighing 15-1. Adding her day-two limit of 16-8 gave McLeod a two-day total weight of 31-9.

McLeod caught all of her fish on wacky-rigged green pumpkin Senkos. She and her partner fished the Vermont side in about 5-10 feet of water.

“We started out with really small fish, but we found some good ones toward the end of the day,” McLeod said.

Myron Worona, of Hermitage, Penn. placed second with 30-14, while Chris Kinney-Hermes, of Champlain, N.Y. was third with 29-7. Kenneth Hoffman, of Cambridge, N.Y. took fourth with 29-1 and fifth place went to Brad Rutherford, of Lavonia, Ga. who tallied 27-1.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Lake Champlain event:

6th: Dick Gum, of Woodbridge, Va., 27-1
7th: Chris Girouard, of Epsom, N.H., 26-15
8th: Trudy Noechel, of Lost Creek, 26-13
9th: Jacob Wheeler, of Indianapolis, Ind., 26-7
10th: Brian Keister, of Cedar Brook, 26-6

Day three of EverStart Series Northern Division action on Lake Champlain continues at Saturday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:00 a.m. (Eastern) at Plattsburgh Boat Basin located at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

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