The anticipation has been building all year for our Championship Event on Chautauqua Lake.
We started today off with four matches and 8 of our top anglers from the season. As mentioned in the practice rounds, Chautauqua Lake is a tale of two lakes. The deep and murky North end and the shallow and clear South end. The North end of the lake features deep wintering holes and stained water, but as you travel South, the water turns more clear and shallower. The entire lake has a defined weed perimeter.
Not typical for October 11th, Chautauqua Lake sustains healthy weeds and water temperatures ranging from 67 degrees to 69 degrees, which is more of a late summer pattern. Day 1 had sunny skies and a light breeze from the South. As we all know, late summer patterns can be tough as fish stay spread out, some holding to shallow waters and healthy weeds, others chasing clouds of baitfish into the deepest parts of the lake.
Lakich vs. Lapine
Lakich (1) vs. Lapine (16) was our first matchup of the day. Isaac is having a phenomenal year and is the PWS AOY winner. With multiple bracket finishes, Isaac is a tough out and statistically the favorite for the event. With that being said, anything was likely to happen, especially with a diverse angler capable of catching fish anywhere like Jake Lapine is. Out of the gate swinging, Jake Lapine started virtually in the middle of the long and skinny lake of Chautauqua in terms of North and South. Within the first hour, Lapine’s rod was bending and, he had a gorgeous 4lb-13oz fish going into the net. Facing the AOY champ quickly, Jake went right back to work searching for another fish. As the day went on, Isaac was figuring out a program. Late morning came, and Isaac hooked up with 4lb-12oz fish, just one ounce less than Jake. Glued to his electronics, Isaac did what Isaac does best, advance by catching one more final fish pushing his total weight to 8 lbs and 2 oz. Our AOY champ lives to see another day in the BRACKET and is now fishing in the GREAT8 on Wednesday, October 10th.
Heiser vs. Meleen
The Heiser (8) vs. Meleen (9) matchup takes two of the most consistent PWS anglers of 2021 and puts them head-to-head in a win or go-home matchup. Anyone that follows these anglers knows they are both great competitors. Paul Meleen fished hard all day but was unable to connect with one of these Chautauqua Lake walleyes. Corey Heiser, on the other hand, was able to strike early with a 3 lb – 13 oz fish. Corey’s one fish was all he needed to punch his ticket for the rest of the week. As time ran down today, Paul Meleen hooked up with a monster walleye he thought to be over 6 lbs. As Paul reeled his fish up towards the surface, it came unhooked and swam away. This action happened within 100 yards of where Corey was fishing, which made for a dramatic finish within the last 6 minutes of legal fishing time.
Wiesner vs. Hanson
Wiesner (5) vs. Hanson (12) was a matchup between two excellent anglers capable of catching a lot of walleyes at any moment. Even though it was the last thing anyone wanted to see, we knew that going into this event, there was a chance that DINKFEST could come up. As the morning went on and the 10 o’clock hour struck, neither Wiesner nor Hanson had a fish on the line, and DINKFEST was in effect on Day 1. Hanson fought hard, and we saw concentration like we haven’t seen all season as he focused on catching a walleye. Unable to connect, Mike ended the day on Chautauqua without a walleye. Despite not catching a fish, this was a special tournament for Mike because his family made the trip to New York. The bite was tough for Wiesner as well. Josh was grinding away until he connected with a target species and he recorded a walleye into his WeightLive App that weighed 1lb and 5oz. That walleye means Josh will be fishing all week, and we will see him LIVE on camera come Wednesday!
Blosser vs. Wilson
Blosser (4) vs. Wilson (13) was a match everyone had circled today. Two of the PWS’s most exciting anglers would go toe-to-toe in a slugfest. Right out of the gate, Robert Blosser hooked up with rod-in-hand and landed a scorable fish that weighed 3 lbs – 4 oz. Catching one fish today was a lot of the angler’s goals, and it very well could have been what it would take to win. However, Mr. Let’s Go Max Wilson had other plans. Using his electronics as he did so well all year, Max found fish and was able to get two to chew, including a beautiful 5 lb – 2 oz Chautauqua Lake walleye, the biggest of the day! We saw Max with rod-in hand-throwing reaction baits.