Rusert Three-peats at Champlain!
The 2005 Bergen Classic was held on September 10th and 11th on Lake Champlain out of Whitehall, NY. This was the first time South Bay was used as the launch site giving anglers several options. Of course, there was the fog to contend with every morning and the decision on whether to make the 20 mile run north to Ticonderoga spending loads of money on gas with prices exceeding $3 a gallon. Some went the "cheaper route" and stayed south both days while others "braved the expense" running up north. Saturday's fishing was the better of the two days with 14 limits brought in and close to 100 pounds more total weight than Sunday where only six limits came to the scales. Champlain is a quality fishery with a reputation for some big bass and sizable catches each day would be needed to place.
Steve Rusert had a plan to fish in South Bay until the fog lifted and then fish his way north. On day one, Steve started out on a spot that had rocks mixed in with lilly pads and landed two quick keepers. Fishing numerous spots on his way up north, he had his limit by 11:30. Eventually fishing by Ticonderoga in 14' of water, Steve landed three big smallies on Senko's and culled each time. On the second day, he started at his sweet spot down south and caught two five pounders there. He repeated his day one tactic fishing his way north to catch 7 keepers and 16 pounds 3 ounces bringing his total to a record tying 30 pounds 7 ounces. The win was Steve's 4th Classic win and third consecutive Lake Champlain victory.
Pat VanWetterning has been known to drive up to Champlain for the day. With a good knowledge of the lake and lots of confidence, Pat brought in 13.14 on day one and 15.02 on the second day for a total of 29 pounds and second place overall. The first day, Pat made a long run north fishing two different spots. Both were "slop" areas and he used a rat over the top. Pat said "I lost two big fish today because they hit so far out that I never had a chance to get them in." On day two, he stopped at a spot in the narrows and caught three fish on a buzzbait. After the fog lifted, he ran back north to finish out his limit.
John Ernest's plan was to flip the slop in two prime areas up north. By flipping two different sized Brush Hogs, John caught 7 or 8 keepers the first day. Fishing alone on day two, John stayed around South Bay until the fog lifted where he boated two and lost one he claims was over six pounds (you always lose a monster when you're fishing alone). After running back north, he caught four more keepers. John's two solid limits of 13.13 and 12.13, a total f 26 pounds 10 ounces was good for third place.
Jason Mordhorst tied for fourth place after leading the field on day one with a whopping 17 pound 13 ounce limit. he spent the first 6 hours fishing two different slop areas. He fished his rat very, very slow and while most people just fished the edges, Jason gets his boat way into the thick stuff. He caught his bigger fish early and limited by 8:30. He had about 17 OR 18 fish on the day. Although he was catching lots of fish, his partner only had two so Jason ran south to the lock where his partner managed to finish off his limit. Three factors made Jason's second day much different from the first. First, the wind shift messed up one of his spots, secondly, fishing alone can make slop fishing difficult and lastly the fog got him to his main spot late. Although he caught three fish, he lost many more right at the side of the boat.
Mark Scocco placed fourth in the event. He located some big fish, including one over six pounds during practice and he concentrated on those areas for both days of the tournament. In one spot, Mark and his partner, Brian picked up 7 nice fish. He later added his fourth fish tot he well on another area of slop and lost his fifth fish numerous times. Day two would prove much better as he concentrated on one main area that produced his big fish in practice. There, he landed a total of seven nice fish, four of which came off an intersection of two boat trails in the middle of the slop he thanked Jason for those trails). Although HIS bait of choice was a Sumo Frog, numerous fish were caught on follow up casts with a brush hog after an explosion. With one four fish and 9 pounds 7 ounces on day one, Mark need a big bag of 14 pounds 11 ounces on day two vaulted him into a tie for fourth place.
The winning team was captained by Steve Rusert and included other top finishers John Ernest and Jason Mordhorst along with Alvin Walters, Renato Santos, and observer, Jim Salvaggio. Their total weight for the two days was 112 pounds 13 ounces, more than 17 pounds ahead of the runner up team. Lunker on day one was a 5 pound 6 ounce largemouth caught by club president, Bob Murphy on a rat. Day two's lunker was landed by Kirk Stober with just 15 minutes left in the day and weighed a monstrous 6 pounds 3 ounces. It was Kirk's only fish of the day. In all, the 25 anglers caught 165 fish and over 383 pounds for the two days.