Several competitors spun tales of thrilling rides in 5- to 8-foot waves, but the most exciting moment for Scott Siller was weighing in a 20-pound limit to take the pro division lead in the Bass Pro Shops Northern Open presented by Allstate at Lake Champlain.
The 44-year-old police officer from Milwaukee, Wis., also experienced a rough ride on wind-swept Champlain, which reminded him of fishing back home. “It reminded me of Lake Erie,” he said. “It was terrible. We got soaking wet.”
Siller noted Champlain fishes similar to his home waters of Sturgeon Bay, so he was able to fish his strengths. He found some areas in practice that were holding smallmouth bass, but he could never catch any brown bass more than 3 pounds.
“I really didn’t have a very good practice,” he said. “I had a couple of areas where I caught some big fish (largemouth), and I went in there today and within an hour and a half I had about 20 pounds.”
After culling out a keeper, Siller left the area and looked for some spots to help his partner catch some fish. Siller noted that he didn’t see any other competitors in his primary area, so he plans on making the long run again tomorrow.
The Wisconsin angler is competing in his sixth B.A.S.S. event, and his previous highest finish was a 22nd-place effort last year in a Northern Open at Lake Erie.
Challenging Siller is Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike Iaconelli, who moved into second place with a 19-6 limit. Iaconelli has plenty of history on Champlain, having fished club tournaments here in the early 1990s and winning his first professional tournament, a Bassmaster Top 150 event, in 1999. “That was a pretty special thing, so I would like to win here again,” he said.
The wind changed the lake level in the area Iaconelli was fishing, so he had to make some adjustments. “It was a slower day than what happened in practice,” he said. “My (lake) level rose today and the fish got scattered.”
“I am concentrating on largemouth, but I am catching a few smallmouth mixed in,” he said. “I went out of my way in practice this week to strictly fish for largemouth.” The touring pro from Pittsgrove, N.J., knows smallmouth tend to roam this time of year on Champlain, so he is sticking with a more reliable largemouth pattern.
The rest of the Top 5 in the pro division includes Ryan Cooper, Nashua, N.H., in third place with 19-1; Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, in fourth with 18-13; and Rick Nitkiewicz, Pittsburgh, Pa. in fifth with 18-11.
Fishing for only the second time on Champlain, Shawn Parenteau of Kingston, N.H., caught a three-fish limit weighing 11-2 to take the lead in the co-angler division. “I was drop shotting and catching all smallmouth,” said the 39-year-old Parenteau, who caught his limit by 8 a.m.
Hosting this week’s Northern Open is The Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau. The launches and weigh-ins each day will be held at Dock Street Landing at 5 Dock Street in Plattsburgh.
Image courtesy James Overstreet/Bassmaster