There’s a showdown looming on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, New York tomorrow, and how it’s going to end up is anybody’s guess.
West Monroe Louisiana pro Tyler Stewart is in the lead for the third consecutive day at this week’s FLW Tour event, which is presented by T-H Marine. But Stewart, who weighed, 18 pounds, 5 ounces today, has been catching his fish a 60-mile ride away from the weighin down at Ticonderoga. That’s all he has, and he says a hurricane can’t keep him from making the long run to Ti tomorrow.
It’s easy to understand why. At stake is the first major tour win for the young pro, a former member of the ULM Fishing Team and a tidy little check for $125,000 that goes to the winner.
Getting there doesn’t look to be an issue, but if the weather forecast is correct, getting home from Ti tomorrow afternoon could get a little dicey. The wind is supposed to blow out of the north at a clip that pro Daryl Biron, who’s fished Champlain for years, thinks might build big enough waves to more than double the normally 50-minute run down there.
Stewart isn’t the only one making the run. Four of the top five and seven of the top 10 are fishing in Ticonderoga, including Biron in fifth, second-place pro Casey Scanlon and third-place pro Eric Jackson. The only one in the top five staying up north is Bryan Thrift, who’s in fourth. It’s highly likely that Thrift will have a limit in the boat before anyone fishing at Ti even gets to his starting spot – and that’s during the calm period forecast for the morning. The fact that Thrift is nipping at their heels and they’ll have a shorter day doesn’t seem to be dissuading any of the top pros from making the run to Ti.
“I’ll zero tomorrow before I don’t go down there,” Stewart says.
The thing Stewart has in his favor this week is that Ti continues to churn out postspawn largemouths that exceed 4 pounds. A 4-pound bass is worth a lot of money in a tournament at Champlain. Stewart probably needs at least a few of them and another upper teens limit tomorrow if he wants to hold off the competition. So far, he’s weighed in 58-6 in three days.
“It started off kind of slow,” Stewart says of his morning today. “I got down there to my main places, and it was crowded. There was a tournament out of Ti, and on one of my main holes, there was a guy fishing it just fun fishing.
“I didn’t get to fish that. I had two places that were covered up with people today – where I was really planning on smackin’ them today. I ended up catching a 4 1/2-pounder and got some momentum going and just grinded all day and ended up catching some good fish and just kept the wheels going.”
Stewart had to adjust and run some new water on the fly to stay on the caliber of fish he’s been catching. His primary tactic all week has been flipping shallow cover on the main lake where the bass are keying on a particular type of baitfish. Today, he did get a few bites on a square-bill just “showing them something different,” which produced one of the keepers he brought to weigh-in. Then he lucked into a 3 1/2-pound smallmouth that culled one of his largemouths once he got back to Plattsburgh.
The leader says the smallmouth bites he’s gotten have been all luck, and he has no other pattern to run in the north end of the lake. He’s all in on the shallow largemouths in Ticonderoga, no matter the wind or waves. Stewart is gunning for his first-ever FLW Tour victory, and he’ll have to earn it in challenging conditions tomorrow.
You can keep up with all the action at
1. Tyler Stewart – West Monroe, La. – 58-6 (15)
2. Casey Scanlon – Lake Ozark, Mo. – 56-8 (15)
3. Eric Jackson – Walling, Tenn. – 55-13 (15)
4. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 55-6 (15)
5. Daryl Biron – South Windsor, Con. – 55-2 (15)
6. David Dudley – Lynchburg, Tenn. – 55-2 (15)
7. AJ Slegona – Pine Bush, N.Y. – 54-15 (15)
8. Tom Redington – Royse City, Texas – 54-15 (15)
9. Christopher Brasher – Longview, Texas – 54-11 (15)
10. Hensley Powell – Whitwell, Tenn. – 54-4 (15)
Jeremiah 29:11 — “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ”