Labelle wins on Champlain

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Bryan Labelle of Hinesburg, Vt., began Saturday’s final round of competition at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open No. 3 at Lake Champlain with the firm belief that he could catch 18 to 19 pounds. 
 
He felt that’s what he needed to hold off second-place Bobby Lane. Turns out the fishing was tough across the board, and Labelle caught just 15-8, the sixth heaviest limit among the final Top 12 anglers. Still, it was enough to best second-place Buddy Cippoletti of Wading River, N.Y., by 2-3 ounces and deliver Labelle the first significant win of his career.
 
Cipoletti weighed a 17-10 limit, while Lane, an Elite Series pro from Lakeland, Fla., who began the day in second place, weighed just 14-2 and finished third. Only half of the final 12 pros topped the 15-pound mark.
 
“I’m super excited, obviously — I didn't think I had it,” Labelle said. “It was my worst day ever on Champlain. I thought I had 12 1/2 or maybe 12 3/4 pounds. I didn’t realize I had 15. 
 
“This is my first big win. I was real nervous in line. Bobby (Lane) made it pretty hard on me. He was going through the weights back and forth — what we needed. For me, I think the most important thing was sticking to my game plan. I made a big mistake today, trying to target smallmouth to start. I was second-guessing myself all day, but once I changed to largemouth, I stuck with that all day.”
 
Labelle noted he has thousands of waypoints on the lake. He runned and gunned, stopping and dropping for about 10 minutes at each spot in search of largemouth. He weighed four largemouth and one smallmouth today.
 
Labelle’s key bait was a 1/2-ounce Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Flipping Jig, tipped with a Zoom Flippin’ Blue trailer. He was flipping and pitching grass areas in Mississquoi Bay, at the north end of the lake.
 
Cippoletti spent his tournament fishing largemouth on rock bottoms in Ticonderoga. He said he had an area to himself that was “loaded with fish.”
 
“I started this morning on what I thought was my ‘A’ stuff, but it didn’t pan out, so I made some adjustments and quickly caught 40 bass before 8:30. I worked through numbers to get a good, foundational limit, then culled throughout the day to improve it.
 
“I hate to say I’m disappointed, but I am disappointed,” Cippoletti added. “I had the goal of catching at least 19 at a place I call home (Champlain). I thought I did that today, but they weighed a little less than I thought. But just to be in a position where I can chase down the leader when I’m 4 or 5 pounds back was a thrill. My adrenaline’s pumping. It’s an amazing feeling.”
 
Cippoletti had been throwing a 3/4-ounce Bassman Spinnerbait and a 3/4-ounce Z-Man Original Chatterbait, but today he switched to an Outkast 5/8-ounce Stealth Feider jig in Magic Craw, tipped with a Missile Baits D Bomb in Wicked Craw, which he trimmed down in his hotel room last night to match the size of the bluegill he saw. He noted that the bluegill had a small blue dot on their tails, which matched the D Bomb.
 
Lane said of his finish: “It’s as frustrating as it gets. I needed 16-9 and I had 14-2. I lost a lot of key fish this week, but the way I was fishing, that happens and it just wasn't meant to be. Champlain is phenomenal though. You can target any species you want. What a great week it was.”
 
Lane primarily flipped a Berkley MaxScent The General in black/blue and a Bobby Lane Signature Series jig.
 
Austin Bonjour of Templeton, Calif., won the co-angler division with a three-day total of 32-7.
 
The Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament was awarded to Carl Jocumsen for a 6-5 largemouth on the pro side worth $750. In the co-angler division, Jason Betourney won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass worth $250 with a 5-10 bass.
 
Lane won the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $500 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat. 
 
The Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau and the City of Plattsburgh hosted the event.