Canadian Erik Luzak 9th
Canadian Erik Luzak 9th
|Cox continues stellar year, Cifuentes ounces behind.|
TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT
Catching 24 pounds, 12 ounces of smallmouth in a day is a big deal. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime bag for most. The type of bag that should’ve put distance between John Cox and the rest of the field by a decent margin.
It didn’t. Not even a little. Welcome to the St. Lawrence River.
While Lake Ontario often steals the show for tournaments in the area, Day 1 of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers event showed that the river is hardly a slouch in terms of quality.
So, circling back to Cox, yes, he had an incredible day; the best day of smallmouth fishing he says he’s ever had. However, it’s just a day here, and he knows it, especially since it was so unexpected.
“It’s crazy,” Cox said. “Both days of practice, I was like, ‘This is the worst practice I’ve ever had.’ Day two was so bad I loaded up at noon, went back to the hotel, took a nap, and then came back out at 5 and got a couple more bites.
“I don’t know why today was so different. I really just wanted to catch five because you don’t want to not catch five at this place. And I caught seven and they were just all big ones.”
If this story from Cox sounds familiar, it should. The man rarely has good practices and often finds things on the fly. Yet, it’s a pattern that routinely works for him, which should worry the rest of the field.
“Everyone’s throwing ChatterBaits these days—and for good reason,” notes Clausen. “But that means bass eventually tune out the same baits and vibration, cast after cast, day after day. It’s been a major motivating factor driving the development of this new, bite-sized ChatterBait: to produce a subtler sound, profile and a vibe that stands apart from traditional bladed jigs.”
From the first crank of the reel with Z-Man’s finely-honed ChatterBait MiniMax, lively tremors up the line sing an alternative tune— albeit, a few octaves above the usual bladed jig melody. As Clausen notes, too, its downsized blade and frame yield advantages such as the ability to burn the bait like there’s no tomorrow.
“We crafted the MiniMax with a downscaled hex-blade and other componentry, but with enough punch and muscle to handle big, tough smallmouth, spotted and largemouth bass, even in high-pressure tournament scenarios,” notes Clausen.
Cory Johnston 4th & Chris Johnston 5th
WADDINGTON, N.Y. — Saving the best for last may not have been his intention, but Taku Ito’s eye-popping 26-pound limit propelled the Japanese sensation to a convincing victory at the Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a four-day total of 90 pounds.
Chris Johnston 3rd & Gustafson 18th
WADDINGTON, N.Y. — For the past three days, Cory Johnston has mentioned saving certain fish he’d previously located for when he needed a big bite. On Saturday, he started with a trio of those difference-makers and took over the Day 3 lead of the Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a three-day total of 68 pounds, 10 ounces.
|Seth Feider wins with 792 points. Chris Johnston in second place in the Angler of the Year standings with 729 points. Former AOY (2017) Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, is in third with 702 points. (Photo: BASS)|
WADDINGTON, NY — Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., wrapped his arms around a lifelong dream as he kissed the Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy on Day 2 of the Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.
Chris & Cory Johnston Tied for 2th & Gustafson 15th
Bernie Schultz, of Gainesville, Fla., is leading after Day 1 of the 2021 Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with 25 pounds, 5 ounces.
BASS PRESS RELEASE
Bryan Schmitt, of Deale, Md., has won the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain with a four-day total of 78 pounds, 5 ounces. (Photo: BASS)
BASS PRESS RELEASE
But the most special one happened just 15 minutes before Sunday’s final weigh-in, as Schmitt landed a 3 1/2-pound smallmouth that gave him a 12-ounce upgrade and allowed him to secure his first Elite Series win with a four-day total of 78 pounds, 5 ounces.
Call it luck. Call it fate. But the win seemed meant to be for the second-year Elite Series pro from Deale, Md.
“I pulled up to a buoy cable this afternoon right before time to come in and saw two fish on my (Garmin) LiveScope,” Schmitt said. “I threw that drop shot in there, felt the bite and didn’t really think it was a bass. But it turns out it was a bass — and without that fish I don’t win.
“When things like that are happening, man, it’s a special week.”
Schmitt talked each day about a waning bite, but he still managed to catch 21-11, 21-5 and 19-4 the first three rounds. Then on Championship Sunday, things did get tougher and he only managed to bring in 16-1.
That barely helped him stave off a hard charge from Texas pro Keith Combs, who finished with 77-13 — just 8 ounces behind the leader.
To catch his bass, Schmitt used a Spro Spin John, a Neko-rigged Missile Baits Quiver Worm and a Missile Baits Ned Bomb on a drop-shot rig.
“I caught a couple of key fish on the spinbait, but the Quiver Worm produced the bulk of my fish for sure,” he said. “I was fishing it on a Hayabusa Spin Muscle Guard Hook with a little nail weight just to get it down.
“These fish are smart, I guess. You could throw a jig in there and they wouldn’t bite it, but they would eat that Quiver Worm.”
Chris Johnston 12th & Gustafson 15th
To hear Bryan Schmitt talk there isn’t a single bass left in Lake Champlain. They’re all gone. Just vanished.
But don’t buy any of it for a second.
The perennially pessimistic Maryland pro caught another big limit Saturday — this time five bass that weighed 19 pounds, 4 ounces — to increase his three-day total to 62-4 and maintain his lead at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain.
He’ll lead a field of 10 qualifying anglers into Championship Sunday with a chance to claim his first Elite Series victory and a $100,000 first-place prize. But of course, he sounded less than confident about his chances.
“I don’t even know how we got it done today, to be honest with you,” Schmitt said. “Tomorrow’s the day. Whoever catches the big bag tomorrow. It’s still anybody’s tournament.”
Schmitt, who has been either first or second all week long, said he spent Saturday’s semifinal round fishing the same areas he fished the first two days. The areas produced big bites, but Schmitt had big bass break his line twice and he admitted he was starting to feel a bit defeated.
After going to an area where he knew he could catch some small fish “just to calm down,” he revisited more familiar areas and put together the bulk of his weight with largemouth.
“I can’t get my smallmouth to go,” Schmitt said. “Yesterday, they were there but it was too rough to fish for them. Today, they were just gone, not even there. I saw one or two fish on my electronics, but I’m not even sure they were smallmouth because they wouldn’t bite.”
Schmitt’s five-bass limit included three largemouth and two smallmouth. Those two smallies came late in the day after he had abandoned his largemouth pattern.
“I caught a 4-pound largemouth that made me feel a lot better, but I started feeling like my largemouth were just burned,” he said. “So, after I caught that 4-pounder, I went smallmouth fishing and caught two that helped me upgrade.
Gustafson 5th, Chris Johnston 25th & Cory Johnston 48th
BASS PRESS RELEASE
Bryan Schmitt has insisted two days in a row that big smallmouth will be the key this week if he wins the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain.
But he just keeps catching big largemouth.
The second-year Elite Series pro from Deale, Md., caught a five-bass limit Friday that weighed 21 pounds, 5 ounces and moved from second place into the lead with a two-day total of 43-0.
Once again, his bag was anchored by a big largemouth — this time a 4-15.
“I’ve burnt my largies down,” Schmitt said. “I got some lucky bites today. They happened on some places that I like fishing, but I know they were lucky bites.”
One of those lucky bites came late in the day and helped him upgrade into the lead.
“I pulled up on a spot this afternoon and made a cast with a spybait,” he said. “As I was reeling it in, something boiled out beside me and a baitfish jumped out of the water. I cast over there and caught a 4-pound smallmouth.
“That, to me, is very lucky. Little things like that have been happening for me this week.”
Besides good fortune, Schmitt has also benefited from the generosity of fellow Elite Series competitor John Crews.
The Virginia pro and founder of Missile Baits gave Schmitt a “goody bag” that was filled with Quiver Worms in the green pumpkin flash color. Schmitt said both species have been eating the worms when conditions will allow.