Page 1

Who will reel in the biggest catch this year?

LAKE CHAMPLAIN A product of the

June 21-23, 2018 PRESS-REPUBLICAN • Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2 W��������, J��� 20, 2018 • COSTA FLW SERIES

Lake Champlain • Plattsburgh, NY June 21-23, 2018


Brad Bailey Publisher

Costa FLW Northern Division tournament information..................3

Teah Dowling Special Publications Coordinator Dan Ladd Contributing Writer

Lake Champlain set for Costa FLW Series Northern Opener.........4

Tim Lyman Contributing Writer Alyssa Senecal Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau Contact Joseph Opager FLW Media Contact Christopher Yates East Coast Watercross Media Contact

Right at home on Lake Champlain with Benjamin Wright.............6 ‘A Battle of Endurance’: East Coast Watercross............................8

Questions? Comments? Email or call 518-565-4183

This year’s Costa FLW Northern Division local participants........10


Efforts to keep Lake Champlain’s bass population unharmed.....12 About the Welcome Anglers Sponsorship......................................14 Unified Fishing Derby upcoming.....................................................15


Content Notice

Unless otherwise stated, all content in this publication, including photography, was obtained through FLW media, with permission to reproduce. For information about this tournament on the web, go to

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Anglers idle at the beginning of last year’s tournament.


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4 W��������, J��� 20, 2018 • COSTA FLW SERIES

Lake Champlain set for Costa FLW Series Northern Opener M

ore than 400 pros and co-anglers are set to open the Northern Division next week, June 21-23, at the Costa FLW Series at Lake Champlain presented by Power-Pole. The tournament, hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, is the first regular-season event scheduled in the FLW Series Northern Division. The event will feature anglers competing for a top award of up to $95,000, including a brand new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard. “We’re hitting Champlain very close to when we did last year, and I expect that it will fish very similarly,” said FLW Tour pro Chris Johnston, who has four top-10 finishes on Lake Champlain in FLW competition. “There are a lot of shallow fish — a lot of smallmouth on beds right now. The only problem with that is that there are quite a few local tournaments happening before this one, so a large majority of those fish will have already been caught. Lake Champlain never fishes badly, though, and we’re going to see a lot of nice fish caught in this event.” A key decision for tournament anglers competing on Lake Champlain is always the choice to fish the grassy and stained headwaters filled with largemouth down south at Ticonderoga, the rocky midsection loaded with smallmouth or the clear waters with rock, grass and both species of bass at the north end. Johnston predicts that the majority of tournament competitors will stay north. “Ticonderoga has been fishing a little tough the past few years, so I think around 90 percent of the field will stay north,” Johnston said. “However, it’s tough to compete with the largemouth down there. If a guy can figure out the largemouth there, you can’t compete with it.” Johnston said that he predicts the three-day winner will likely have a mixed bag of both smallmouth and largemouth each day. “Last year it took 18 pounds a day to win,” Johnston said. “I think it’ll be very similar to that again this year. Maybe even a little more. I’ll guess that the winner of this tournament will likely have right around 56 pounds.”

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Pro Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs, Michigan, who started the final day in third place, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces to jump to the top of the leaderboard and win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain presented by Power-Pole in 2017. Nelson’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 54 pounds, 9 ounces, was enough to earn him the win by a 10-ounce margin and the first place prize package worth $93,200, including a new Ranger Z521C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard. Courtesy of FLW/Photo by Charles Waldorf

Anglers will take off and weigh-in at the Plattsburgh City Marina, located at 5 Dock St., in Plattsburgh. Takeoff will be held at 6 a.m. each day of competition and weigh-ins will start at 2 p.m. All takeoffs and weigh-ins are free to attend and open to the public. In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event. At Lake Champlain, pros will fish for a top prize of $95,000, including a brand new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup qualified. Co-anglers will cast for a brand new Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard, and $5,000 if Ranger Cup qualified. Continued on page 5



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The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions — Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western — along with the International division. Each U.S. division consists of three regular-season tournaments with competitors vying for valuable points that could earn them the opportunity to compete in the seasonending Costa FLW Series Championship. The 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship is being held Nov. 1-3 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For complete details and updated information visit For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.

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ABOUT FLW FLW is the world’s largest tournamentfishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2018 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct 286 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.


Anglers idle at the beginning of last year’s tournament.


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6 W��������, J��� 20, 2018 • COSTA FLW SERIES

Right at home on Lake Champlain with


By Dan Ladd

Photo by Tim Lyman


hen Ben Wright launches his boat into Lake Champlain early morning on June 21, he intends to have his homework done. The 38-year-old Peru local has climbed through the tournament and series ranks, from being a co-angler in the back of another fisherman’s boat, to having his own speedy bass boat. This summer, he’s primarily focused on being prepared for the three tournaments that make up the Northern Swing of the Costa FLW Series. The first of those tournaments is June 21-23 on Lake Champlain. The other two will be held on Lake Erie out of Buffalo on July 26-28 and in the 1000 Islands September 6-8. These are all waters the part-time angler is familiar with and plans to be prepared come tournament time. “This year, I’ve reduced my tournament count, and I’m really focusing by taking a week off for each of the three Costa events, which allows me to be on the water and

hopefully be a little more competitive than I was last year,” said Wright Just as he had done as a co-angler from 2011 through 2016, last year Wright fished the T-H Marine BFL — Northeast trail with his own boat as a pro. He would like to see better results and hopes all the practicing will result in more fish in the live well and more weight on the tournament scales. “I’m focusing this year on the Costa Series, but I’ll cherry pick some BFL events. I enjoy fishing them. They’re one day tournaments,” he said. “Last year, I focused on the BFL, but it’s difficult for a one-day tournament to commit the time needed to be successful so far away from home.” Wright is right at home on Lake Champlain as he's lived in the area his entire life. After graduating from Saranac Central School, he attended SUNY Plattsburgh and earned a computer science degree. He currently works full time as a IT Project Manager for the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.

Wright’s rise through the fishing ranks is much like that of any angler, but he actually started out trout fishing. “I grew up pond fishing with my dad. Hiking in, we’d camp for a weekend and trout fish,” said Wright. “As I got a little older into high school and college, I didn’t fish nearly as much, just occasionally with friends.” Meanwhile, Lake Champlain became a magnet for the major fishing trails like FLW and Bassmasters, as well as with local bass fishing clubs. “I think it was around 2008. I was at some downtown Plattsburgh festivities and a friend of mine was in the Plattsburgh Bass Club, and they had a booth set up,” said Wright. “I was talking to them, and they had an event coming up. So I signed up as a co-angler for maybe $25. I really enjoyed fishing and thought I’d like to see what this bass fishing is all about, and by that time bass fishing had become pretty popular in the area. Continued on page 7

COSTA FLW SERIES • W��������, J��� 20, 2018 7 “We were already hosting tournaments, and I’d see these big fancy boats with all these wraps come into town,” he continued. “So, I went out fishing with some friends in the Plattsburgh Bass Club, and I really enjoyed it. Doing something I enjoy, such as fishing, and with a competitive flair as well, [gave me] the bass fishing bug.” Wright paid his dues as a co-angler and took advantage of the opportunities to make friends and learn about competitive fishing. “I started fishing more and more. Early on, I wasn’t a boater; I was just a co-angler,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to learn because you didn’t have to have a big fancy bass boat and all the rods and lures. You could get by with a much smaller entry fee and a limited set of equipment and you could still get out there and learn a lot and catch fish.” Things really came together for Wright in 2013 when after climbing through the local, state and regional ranks he found himself fishing as a co-angler at the TBF (The Bass Federation) National Championship on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake.

“I was fortunate enough to win the TBF National Championship. That really spring-boarded my career,” said Wright. “At that time I’d already bought a boat, so I was out fishing club events as a boater, but I had not yet made the transition to fishing larger FLW and Bassmaster events. Three or four years ago, I got a bigger boat, and I started to feel a little more comfortable and started fishing some larger



“I’m thankful for the work that has been done to increase the awareness, the tourism aspect of the area and what fishing means to tourism,” said Wright. “Lake Champlain is continually listed as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. That’s really played a lot into tourism, so the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau has done a great job with the marketing campaign. I’m fortunate they reached out to me and brought me on so I’m able to travel the country and promote the Adirondack Coast, and not only what it has from a fishing perspective. That’s what I try to Photo by Tim Lyman pass on to the folks in my travels.” Although Wright has had some success and loves what he does, he maintains that this professional fishing is just a hobby and that he plans to keep events as a boater.” it that way, at least for now. For the past two seasons, Meanwhile, he has some advice, Wright has a been on the water especially for young people and in a Skeeter bass boat. He’s also other aspiring anglers. landed solid sponsorships which “Get out there and just do it,” offset his expenses. Among those he said of tournament fishis the Adirondack Coast Visiing. “If you want to get in and tors Bureau, a relationship that learn, a co-angler, especially at Wright sees as a win-win situation the lower federation levels, is a simply because they stand solid very inexpensive way to go. If behind promoting fishing and anything else, you just get out other forms of outdoor recreation there and enjoy the lake. I guar— something Wright finds easy to antee you’ll have a good time.” promote himelf as a pro angler.



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he start was Christopher Yates' most important moment in last year's East Coast Watercross in Plattsburgh. Yates took off with his 1997 Seadoo HX and maneuvered his way through 30 buoys against 13 competitors in the sports specs class. "Dealing with constant water in your face, splashes and the other competitors out there...It’s exciting," the organizer of East Coast Watercross said. "It's a battle of endurance." This year's East Coast Watercross will be returning to Plattsburgh on July 28 and 29 at the Plattsburgh City Beach on 2 Beach Road. Racers of different skill levels and ages will compete on various watercraft types from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. The races, consisting of a maximum of 15 participants, last about 10 laps, and the winner is the racer who crosses the start/ finish buoys first. Two races take place per round — morning and after lunch. The racers are scored and assigned a point value for their finishing order at the end of the day. An award ceremony follows for the top finishers. Continued on page 9

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COSTA FLW SERIES • W��������, J��� 20, 2018 9 Continued from page 8

Whoever racks up the most points by the end of the tour wins the overall grand prize — $100,000.

For racers planning on participating in other events, those points will go toward the tour's point system. SUMMER-LONG TOUR East Coast Watercross represents the IJSBA's (International Jet Sports Boating Association) 'Region 8' made up of Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. East Coast Watercross hosts 10 rounds of racing on five separate weekends throughout the summer; rounds 5 and 6 are taking place in Plattsburgh. The tour started May 19 at Cini Memorial Park in Niantic, Connecticut and continued at Sylvan Beach, New York the end of June. After Plattsburgh, the tour will continue on to Clute Memorial Park in Watkins Glen, New York and Lake Chaubunagungamaug in Webster, Massachusetts. .

'GREAT LOCATION' The tour first went through Plattsburgh last year after another location in Connecticut fell short. At first, organizers found Plattsburgh to be a drawback because of the location. "It's quite a commute for some of our participants," Yates said. "It's the most northern stop on the tour." Last year, the tour attracted to the area 67 competitors for Saturday and 63 competitors for Sunday from different areas such as New York, Canada, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and more. "People had a lot of fun in Plattsburgh last year," said Yates. "The space, the water, the people...Everything was great. "Plattsburgh is our best location."

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This year’s FLW Northern Division local participants Eric Bechard

Plattsburgh, NY Co-angler status 1 event fished total

Brett Carnright

Plattsburgh, NY Pro status 1 career top 10 finish 2 events fished total Earnings: $11,000

Casey Casamento Plattsburgh, NY Pro status 2 career top 10 finishes 17 events fished total Earnings: $14,330

William Clute

Hogansburg, NY Co-angler status 1 career top 10 finish 8 events fished total 1 year as FLW Tour co-angler Earnings: $3,457

Chris Heckard Plattsburgh, NY Co-angler status

Rob Lamoy

Chazy, NY Pro status 4 career top 10 finishes 37 events fished total Earnings: $18,202


Ryan Latinville

Plattsburgh, NY Pro status 4 career top 10 finishes 13 total events fished Earnings: $18,011

Brett Carnright of Plattsburgh Photo courtesy of FLW Fishing

Brent Lyons

Altona, NY Co-angler status 2 events fished total Earnings: $540

Joshua Miller Plattsburgh, NY Co-angler status

Continued on next page

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Alec Morrison

Peru, NY Co-angler status 2 career top 10 finishes 5 events fished total Earnings: $5,336

Paul Spaulding North Bangor, NY Co-angler status 19 events fished Earnings: $139

Barton Vanleuvan

Mooers, NY Co-angler status 7 events fished 1 year as FLW Tour co-angler Earnings: $484

Ben Wright

Peru, NY Pro status 1 tournament win: The Bass Federation National Championship, 2013 4 career top 10 finishes 37 events fished total 1 year as FLW Tour co-angler 1 cup appearance Earnings: $16,934

Alec Morrison of Peru Photo courtesy of FLW Fishing

* The list of local participants in this year’s Costa FLW Series Northern Opener was provided by Joseph Opager, director of public relations for FLW Fishing. Statistics on each participant was obtained by angler profiles on Photos were taken off of FLW’s website with permission by Opager.



12 W��������, J��� 20, 2018 • COSTA FLW SERIES



The effort to keep Lake Champlain’s bass population unharmed through the season By Tim Lyman


he Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series tournament will take place later this month, and no harm should come to Lake Champlain's fishing population, ecological experts say. Any damage that occurs is minimal, according to University of Vermont Professor of Fisheries J. Ellen Marsden, as fishing organizations condone certain practices to promote environmental consciousness, such as imposing a penalty against a fish's total weight for each dead fish brought to the scale. “It's really good education and stewardship of the environment,” said Marsden. If an angler brings a dead fish to the scale to a FLW Costa Series event, they're assessed

an 8-ounce penalty, said FLW Director of Public Relations Joseph Opager in an email. But FLW proudly maintains a 92.8-percent live-release rate. “From the moment a bass is caught, the effort begins to keep it alive until it can be weighed and returned to the water,” said Opager. Fish are held in aerated live wells that contain additives that help protect the natural slime on the bass, a biological defense mechanism for the fish. When the fishers return to the weigh-in site, the fish are transported in special weigh-in bags that sit in tanks filled with treated water. “The fish are briefly pulled out of the water, weighed, then immediately brought to the FLW live-release boat,” he said, adding Continued on page 13



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the boat is a custom pontoon with three live wells on board. "Once the boat is full, a driver brings it out to the middle of the lake, and the live wells are flushed out, sending the fish back into the water they came from." When competitors release their fish, the fish might be approximately 50 miles from where the fisher hooked it, and because many fish species have their own territory, they could be displaced from the only area they've ever known, according to Marsden. In that time, fish have to find food in unfamiliar territory since officials are unlikely to tell anglers to bring the fish back to where they hooked it after it's weighed. “For a little while, until they redistribute, things are out of whack for a little bit,” said Marsden. “I don't think we're completely disrupting the lake, but there's certainly a little bit of disruption in the bass populations.” A 2015 recreational tournament fishery conservation plan from the Adirondack

Coast Visitors Bureau showed numbers remaining relatively constant in a 10-year span for an average daily catch from 2005 to 2015 with no sharp declines shown. “If these tournaments were really having an impact," SUNY Plattsburgh Lake Champlain Sea Grant Extension Specialist and Aquatic Resource Specialist Mark Malchoff said, " you'd see a decline in the quality of the fishery." Angler Benjamin Wright of Peru, who's competing in this year's FLW Costa Series Event on Lake Champlain from June 2123, praised the polices of FLW and other organizations like it for its efforts. The local angler also stressed the difference between a tournament fisherman and a bank fisherman — stating how bank fishermen with less experience are more likely to injure a fish due to tournament fishermen being able to feel the bites on the line without the fish swallowing the hook. “These guys are striving to do live release,” said Malchoff. “They don't want to kill fish.”

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Courtesy of FLW/Photo by Jody White



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14 W��������, J��� 20, 2018 • COSTA FLW SERIES

WELCOME ANGLERS! Hello visiting anglers! The Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau created the Welcome Angler Sponsorship years ago as a way for local businesses to help welcome you to the Adirondack Coast during the summer long fishing tournament season on Lake Champlain. Here’s all the businesses excited to see you all this year: • America’s Best Value Inn • Applebee’s Grill & Bar • Best Western Plus • Butcher Block • Buffalo Wild Wings • Champlain Centre • Days Inn • Elfs Farm Winery & Cider House • Ground Round • Hannaford • Jackson and Callie • La Quinta Inns & Suites • Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel • Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham • Plattsburgh RV Park • Twin Ells Campsite • Uno Pizzeria & Grill During registration, you’ll find a goodie from each of them in your swag bags, including meal coupons and deals for when you book a room next year. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, make sure you look out for a long waving two-tone blue flag that says “Welcome Anglers”. We hope you enjoy your stay and visit the Adirondack Coast again soon! For more information on what to do and where to go in the Adirondack Coast during your stay, visit

Welcome Anglers!

Pictured right: The swag bag handed out to all anglers on registration day by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau. Inside is deals from businesses participating in this year’s Welcome Angler Sponsorship, as well as booklets showing all the Adirondack region has to offer.

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UPCOMING: UNIFIED FISHING DERBY June 23, 2018 • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Wilcox Dock, 104 Cumberland Ave , Plattsburgh, NY 12901


osta Series Angler Tom Stark will be hosting a Unified Fishing Derby this Saturday at Wilcox Dock in Plattsburgh. The inclusive event will be for area residents, specifically young anglers under the age of 18 and special olympics athletes of all ages. First and second place will be awarded for biggest fish on the FLW stage the same day at 2:30 p.m. Participants are asked to bring rod and tackle, if you have it, along with chairs, life jackets, sunscreen, hats, snacks and drinks. Cameras are recommended.

FLW rods will be available to the first 50 participants, as well as event goodie bags. An adult or legally authorized caregiver must accompany all participants and sign a waiver form. On-site registration begins at noon. To pre-register or for more information, contact Stark at ABOUT THE HOST Stark is an angler from Angola, Indiana. His earliest recorded appearance in the Costa Series, according to FLW Fishing, was the

Bass Federation - Northern in 2007 where his caught six bass under co-angler status. Since then, Stark has fished in over 20 events — four of which he ended up in the top 10. Stark has also made one cup appearance and has spent two years an FLW Tour co-angler — earning almost $20,000. Stark participated in the last two Costa FLW Series Northern Division events — placing in the top 50 in 2016 and top 20 in 2017. He plans on competing in this year’s tournament on Lake Champlain from June 21-23 under co-angler status.



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Call Today!! 518-493-2582


518-493-6300 • Fax 518-493-6301 Hours: Mon., Wed., Fri. 9am-5pm Tues. & Thurs. 9am - 4pm

Lowest Prices and Full Concession M-F 8am-5:55 pm Sat. & Sun. 9am - 6:55 pm

Ganienkeh Territory Fuel

Gas & Diesel • 518-2 3 M-F 7am–9pm •Sat. & S 6-6541 un. 7am-10pm


3 Days A Week! Wednesday & Friday: Starts at 6:30pm Doors Open at 5pm Sunday: Starts at 12:30pm Doors open at 10am

3083 Rand Hill Road, Altona, NY (corner of Rand Hill Road and interstate 190) Devil’s Den Road Via Altona, NY • 518-236-7099 • 518-493-2247

Profile for Press-Republican

FLW 2018 Costa Series Tournament Guide  

Get ready for a new brand of angling action to hit Lake Champlain with the FLW's Costa Series. The Northern Division kicks off their tournam...

FLW 2018 Costa Series Tournament Guide  

Get ready for a new brand of angling action to hit Lake Champlain with the FLW's Costa Series. The Northern Division kicks off their tournam...