Memorable showing at Lake Champlain

Jul. 27, 2013 @ 05:40 PM

Last week’s 28th-place finish out of 125 mostly professional anglers at the Lake Champlain FLW Everstart tournament in Plattsburg, N.Y. was my best major bass tournament finish ever.

Even though I am proud of my finish, it is disappointing to miss a good payday by 7 ounces of bass (the top-25 received checks). And it was even more frustrating to know that either of the two big fish I lost on day one of the tournament would have been worth a sizeable sum of money.

I don’t know how one man could come so close so many times and not be successful. I can’t tell whether the Lord is telling me to quit trying so hard or to try harder.

Practice for the event began on Saturday, July 13 and I caught lots of bass each day in all areas of the lake. Lake Champlain is over 110 miles long, stretching from the Canadian border down into the U.S., straddling the Vermont/New York border.

It was nice to get away from everything, especially after my phone got wet and quit ringing. It would dial out but not ring. And since I’d “accidently” left my Blackberry email device on my desk there was no temptation to keep up with work. 

Sitting way down in 90th place at the end of day one was bad enough, but on top of that, my boat engine stopped working about 40 miles south of the boat ramp.

Luckily, another contestant stopped to take my co-angler and our fish to the weigh-in with them. Sitting there wondering how I’d get home, I realized that my truck key was in the boat with me but my truck was 40 miles away in Plattsburg.

Had I sent my keys in the other boat, they could have come to get me and picked up my boat. As it was, I had to get a tow in to the marina and then wait for someone from New Hampshire who I barely knew to come get me and carry me to pick up my truck. It took almost until midnight to get all this settled down and get to bed, which gave me three hours to sleep before getting up to start fishing on day two.

I don’t know what caused my engine to blow up, but I’m sure it had nothing to do with me driving 75 miles to the south end of the lake in exactly 59 minutes, including a quick pit stop to answer nature’s call.

Luckily, a friend from Vermont had a boat I could borrow, and even more luckily, I missed what appeared to be a young moose that ran out in front of me on the way to his house to get it.

Tune in to this column next week for more of this adventure. Find out how I ended up way inside the Canadian border without a passport, put 24.7 gallons of diesel in a 24-gallon tank at a station in the middle of nowhere, ended up fishing in a boat crawling with maggots, and driving through 6-foot waves at 40 mph in a 19-foot boat on the way back in on the second day on my roughest boat ride ever to make it to the weigh-in on time with 34 seconds to spare.

At least most of the maggots got bounced off the boat.

Kerr Lake fishing report – Striper fishing has slowed a little. They’ve been deep recently but should start to move a little shallower (30 feet or so).

Upcoming area tournaments – I don’t see any tournaments scheduled for next weekend on any area lakes. There is an ABA on Gaston on Saturday, Aug. 10 launching out of Holly Grove and Brandon Grays Kerr Lake tournament Sunday, Aug. 11 launching from Occoneechee.

Next week’s report – Lake Champlain wrap up and Kerr/Gaston fishing reports. Susan and I are competing in an ABA couples event on Lake Gaston.

Tip of the week — Make sure to match the fishing line to the situation. For instance, use fluorocarbon to get deeper as it sinks, and use monofilament when fishing top water as it floats.

Contact the writer by email at, on Facebook under Walt Bowen, and on twitter at @WaltBowen.