WADDINGTON, New York — Four days after fishing Championship Sunday and finishing ninth in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Lake Champlain, Caleb Sumrall is in the hunt for the coveted blue trophy again on another body of water in the Northeast.
Sumrall, 34, charged into Day 1 of the 2021 Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite tournament on the St. Lawrence River in eighth place in the Angler of the Year standings thanks to his showing at Lake Champlain, solidly in line to earn a berth in the 2022 Bassmaster Classic. That was his ultimate goal before leaving New Iberia on June 29 for the last two tournaments of 2021, both in New York State.
With his confidence level perhaps at an all-time high Thursday, Sumrall enjoyed a midday blistering of the smallmouth bass population in the St. Lawrence River. He culled a 1-pound, 6-ounce, smallie with a 4-4 at 11:37 and got his second 5-pound class brownie in his hands at high noon to finish the day with 22 pounds, 2 ounces, good enough for fourth place in the 95-angler field going into today’s Day 2.
Only one of the country’s smallmouth bass experts, Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Florida, and two Canadians brothers, Chris Johnston of Peterborough, and Cory Johnston of Cavan, who are fishing “home waters,” are ahead of the bass angler who grew up fishing the bayous and swamps across the Teche Area.
“Hey, man, today was fun!” Sumrall said on the weigh-in stage as he talked to the crowd and emcee Dave Mercer.
Mercer introduced the Westgate High School graduate as a bass angler “looking to make another ’10 cut.’ ” Sumrall made the Top 10 this past weekend at Lake Champlain and finished with 73 pounds, 10 ounces, to win $16,000.
Sumrall’s day of smallmouth bass bashing began when he hooked and boated a 5-pound class bass at 8:19 a.m., according to BassTrakk. He added a 3-pounder at 8:46, a 3-4 at 9:39, then caught a 1-6 and a 2-0 just before 11.
Then he really got the big bites he was looking for. He reeled in a 4-4 at 11:37 a.m. and another 5-pound class bass at noon.
His limit was anchored by a 5-pound, 11-ounce brown beauty that held big bass of the day for quite a while. He eagerly dug into his weigh-in bag to show the crowd after the total weight was announced, then talked about his day on the water.
Sumrall and 93 other Elites are chasing Schultz, who had two “hawgs” for smallies in his limit that weighed 25 pounds, 5 ounces. He also boasted the day’s biggest bass, a 6-2.
Chris Johnston and his brother Cory Johnston are tied for second with 23-7.
Today’s takeoff is scheduled for 6 a.m. at Whittaker Park.
The weigh-in will be held at the park at 2:15 p.m.
The Top 45 anglers will advance to Semifinal Saturday.