Thursday, July 28, 2011

FLW EverStart Nothern 1000 Islands/ Lake Ontario Day 1: Big Smallies Shine

Big Smallmouth Dominate Lake Ontario
by David A. Brown
FLW Press Release
Big Smallie help Hippert take Day 1 lead.
(Photos from David Brown FLW)

CLAYTON, N.Y. – The door of opportunity stood wide open for much of day one, but with cloudy skies overtaking sunny conditions by early afternoon – a precursor for tomorrow’s rainy forecast – EverStart Northern Division anglers saw the situation shifting at the 1000 Islands.

In sunny conditions, bass hold tight to cover and that makes them easier to target. Fish roam more in low light, so finding them requires more time searching. Of course, the dimmer conditions had little effect on those fishing deep, however, an afternoon wind made traversing Lake Ontario’s vastness a little sporty, to say the least.

Only a few scattered rain drops fell today, but the day-two forecast calls for wet conditions and very little chance of direct sunlight until the weekend. The approaching weather system will surely bring puffy winds, so today’s productive scenarios may diminish by the time day two arrives.

Fortunately for many, day one produced good sacks that will position them well for a berth in Saturday’s finale. Seven pros broke 20 pounds and it took 18-8 to make today’s top-10. Jeff Hippert, of Hamburg, N.Y. leads the show with a 24-pound, 8-ounce bag that included the day’s Snickers Big Bass – a 5-11.

Hippert fished four different shoals in one main area and found his fish in 18-30 feet. “It’s a good area and I think these fish are just sliding up to feed. It was just being in the right spot at the right time. We caught a lot of fish today.”

Hippert caught his fish on tubes and dropshots with finesse baits like a Jackall Cross Tail Shad on 8-pound fluorocarbon line. Water clarity made a stealth approach essential.

“It’s really clear water and you just want to throw the smallest (rig) you can,” he said.

Hippert said today’s shifting meteorological clearly impacted his day. “The fish bit early in the day when it was sunny. Once the clouds started rolling in, they just went down to nothing. I’m just glad to have what I had.”

Johnston slams into second

Through local tournaments on his Canadian homeland side plus a week of practice for the EverStart event, Ontario angler Chris Johnston has spent much of the past three weeks on the water. That gave him plenty of options, but today’s weather complicated matters.

“I did a lot of running today, but it was hard because it was so rough,” Johnston said. “I got a couple of spots that are one- or two-fish areas, so I ran a lot, got one or two off each spot and kept going.”

Because his fish were deep – 20-40 feet – Johnston said today’s clouds didn’t affect him much. He caught his fish on the 3-inch Slammer in watermelon red fleck.

“Within an hour this morning, I had three close to five pounds but it slowed down from there, so I had to do a lot of running,” Johnston said. “I couldn’t get to some of my spots because it was so rough.”

Johnston’s limit catch of 22-11 landed him in second place.

Short varied depth, places third
Arkansas pro Kevin Short placed third with 21-3. Equipping himself to effectively deal with weather variances, Short developed divergent patterns and worked them accordingly.

“I’m catching some nice fish shallow and I’m catching some nice fish deep,” Short said. “I have a couple of different things going on; it just depends on what the conditions are. Whether it’s sunny or whether it’s cloudy, I can catch them fairly well. In shallow, I’m throwing a jerkbait and out deep, I’m catching them on a Zoom worm on a dropshot.”

Short said he fished a lot of water today and caught most of his fish in two different areas. “I caught three of the big ones pretty quickly and then slid off to the side of (my spot) hoping that maybe there’s something there tomorrow.”

Seal secures fourth
Gregg Seal, of Eldred, Penn., spent his day in the St. Lawrence River and caught a fourth-place limit of 20-12. Having signed up for the tournament on Monday afternoon, Seal had minimal practice time, but three strong catches gave him confidence going into the event.

“I just took a chance on those three big fish I caught,” he said. “We actually had to make a change today, but we figured it out and we had a really good day. With the cloud cover, I started out shallower because I thought they’d move up, so I went back to the normal depth I was fishing and they weren’t there. We moved deeper yet and that’s where we found them. We started in 15 feet and ended up catching them in 50 feet in the river channel.”

Lavictoire lands in fifth
The first angler to weigh fish on day one, Tomas Lavictoire Jr., of West Rutland, Vt. sacked up 20 pounds, 5 ounces and took fifth place. Targeting rock piles in 20-25 feet, he caught his fish on dropshots and Senkos. His bite was slow to start, but once it did, the action was intense.

“I never got a bite until 8 o’clock and then I found on sweet spot that turned on and I stopped fishing at 11:30,” he said. “There are spots within the spots and once you find the sweet spot, you just keep going over it, give the fish a rest, come back and usually it will reload with a big one.”

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series 1000 Islands event:

6th: Bill Chapman, of Salt Rock, W.V., 20-2
6th: Masahiro Yanase, of Knoxville, Tenn., 20-2
8th: Richard Garlock, of Alexandria Bay, N.Y, 19-14
9th: Eric Foltin, of Lebanon, Penn., 18-10
10th: Jason Putman, of Cicero, N.Y., 18-8

Lafaver drops into co-angler lead

Paired with Seal today, Larry Lafaver of Watertown, NY also fared well in the river. He caught all of his fish by dropshotting with 5-inch Berkley Gulp! leeches and green pumpkin Senkos. The only co-angler to break 20 pounds, Lafaver bagged a limit that weighed 20-1 and took the top spot in his division.

Lafaver rigged his dropshot with a ¼-ounce weight, 1/0 hook and a 16-inch leader. With bottom-dwelling gobies a dietary staple for local smallies, many anglers rig dropshots with 4- to 6-inch leaders, but Lafaver said his schedule limited his rigging options.

“That’s what I had leftover from (the EverStart event on Lake Champlain),” he said. “I never changed out and the rig was still there. I wasn’t sure if I was coming or not and it was a last-minute thing when I got in and I basically grabbed what I had.”

Gary Knight, of Magnolia, Del. took second with 18-5, while Ken Golub, of Pittsford, N.Y. placed third with 18-4. Kevin Dorsey, of Napanee, Ont. and Anthony Savino, or Malboro, N.Y. tied for fourth at 18-0.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series 1000 Islands event:

6th: Milton Goff, of Knoxville, Md., 17-12
7th: David Kelly, of Goose Creek, S.C., 17-11
8th: John M. Ciavaglia, of Pittsford, N.Y., 17-8
9th: Bill Valberg, of London, Ont., 17-6
10th: Nathan Knapp, of Brooktondale, N.Y., 16-12

Dennis Carnahan caught a 5-pound, 15-ounce smallmouth that earned Snickers Big Bass honors.

Day two of EverStart Series Northern Division action at the 1000 Islands continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:00 a.m. (Eastern) at French Creek Marina, located at 250 West Street in Clayton, N.Y.

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