FLW Rayovac Preview – Lake Champlain

The second stop on the Northern Division begins next week, as the FLW Rayovac Series visits Lake Champlain in Plattsburg, NY. Originally the final tournament in the Northern Division, Champlain became the “middle child” after extreme weather conditions forced the postponement of the first tournament in the series on the James River in VA. Unlike the James or the Potomac, Lake Champlain is a vastly diverse non-tidal fishery, and anglers will have to make a multitude of decisions in order to be successful next week.

The sixth largest lake in the U.S., Lake Champlain stretches 120 miles north to south with almost 600 miles of shoreline and 435 square miles of surface area. With a maximum depth of 400 feet, Lake Champlain features more than 80 species of warm and cold-water fish including large and smallmouth bass, walleye, lake trout, brown trout, land-locked Atlantic salmon, perch, carp, steelhead and bowfin.

Anglers during the Rayovac Tournament, however, will have to choose between two trophy populations of fish: smallmouth bass in the deeper water or largemouth bass in the shallower bays.

Pepper’s Eyewear Pro Matt Stasiak is no stranger to the FLW Events on Lake Champlain, having finished 99th in 2011, 35th there in 2012, and 33trd in 2013.

Matt, like all anglers will face crucial decisions during the tournament, and he listed five things that all anglers will have to consider daily while performing this week:

Big fish location

“Champlain is very versatile, you can have hundred fish days up here throwing anything under the sun, but it’s trying to figure out where the big ones are and what they want that will win the tournament. Finding the key schools and locating them when they move during the week will be crucial.”


“Whether or not to make the run to Ticonderoga – its in the back of every fisherman’s head up here” says Stasiak. “It’s a 60 mile run to Ticonderoga to fish the grass, and some guys wont (decide) to make it, depending on the weather. If you can find a good school in Ticonderoga, it’s really just a matter of making it down there come tournament time. You can have 16-18 pounds in a half an hour.”


Stasiak learned the hard way just how fickle the smallmouth bite can become in the ever-changing conditions on Lake Champlain in 2011, finishing 99th. “What I’ve learned from the first time I fished Champlain is the smallmouth are inconsistent: you can pull up on a hump and catch 20 pounds one day and come back the next day and they are gone. So if you are going to target the smallmouth, you have to have a lot of spots ”. He turned that knowledge into 35th and 33rd place finishes in the two Rayovacs on Champlain since, but the Stasiak says the smallmouth will still be on his mind. “You can’t rule them out, you have to try. You can win this tournament on smallmouth, if it’s the right time and they are staying put; but three days of smallmouth is VERY tough on this lake.”

Wind and Weather

“Lake Champlain has a ton of current” says Stasiak, “if the wind pushes out of the south against the current, it will make it very rough and will affect the run down to Ticonderoga, as well as scatter smallmouth schools across the lake”.


Having sponsors like Pepper’s Eyewear and Gamma Fluorocarbon will have extra value to Stasiak on Champlain, as it is a deep, clear Northern Lake. “Champlain is a super clear lake, you have to have the right eyewear and polarization, as some of these fish may still be on beds in ten feet of water and you will have to be able to see them.”

As far as his line, Stasiak has great confidence in his Gamma fluorocarbon – “You’ll need strength, feel, and the ability to hide your line from the fish. You will also need to be able to feel (your bait on) rocks, gravel grass – and to know if it’s gravel or grass, or if it’s a bite.”

Lake Champlain will be full of unknowns for the Rayovac anglers on July 17th-19th that won’t be solved until the tournament begins. Be sure to watch the weigh-ins on www.flwoutdoors.com. To learn more about Matt Stasiak, follow his season on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matt-Stasiak/274653562613355) and his website: www.mattstasiak.com.

By Chris Murphy