WADDINGTON, New York — The St. Lawrence River’s dominant but shifty and oft-finicky smallmouth bass population foiled a New Iberia pro bass angler’s bid to fish today on Championship Sunday, despite his best efforts and a proven pattern.
Caleb Sumrall, 32, who was sitting pretty in 11th place after two days of the 2019 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River presented by Black Velvet, fished hard again on Day 3 after making the Top 35 cut for the fourth time in 2019, and culled to a five-fish limit weighing 16 pounds, 6 ounces, on Saturday.
That bag of bass he placed on the scale Saturday for weighmaster Dave Mercer wasn’t enough to propel him into the Top 10 for Championship Sunday.
It gave him a three-day total of 58 pounds, 3 ounces, good enough for 18th-place in the 75-angler field and $10,000.
Sumrall, who weighed the heaviest limit among all the Elites on Friday, a 23-pound, 6-ounce, stringer to give him a two-day total of 41 pounds, 13 ounces, was unable to hook and boat as many smallies in the 4-pound class on Saturday like he did Friday when he had four 4-pounders.
He did get two that size, an estimated 4-pounder and a 4 ½-pounder around midday, but couldn’t coax bites out of more 4-pound or better smallies in the famed smallmouth bass fishery ranked No.1 by Bassmaster Magazine.
Most importantly, Sumrall left Waddington on his way to the next Elite tournament later this week at Cayuga Lake near Union Springs, New York, in 24th place with 493 points in the Angler of the Year standings on the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series. He arrived at the St. Lawrence River in 30th place with 403 points.
His goal on this swing through the Northeast is to solidify his position and qualify for the end-of-the-year Angler of the Year Championship on Sept. 28-Oct. 1, at Lake St. Clair near Detroit and, of course, punch his ticket to fish the 50th Bassmaster Classic next year at Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
Sumrall was on Cloud 9 at the weigh-in Friday. He pulled a pair of 4 ½-pound smallmouth bass out of his bag on the stage with a big smile and a warning that he had figured out a successful pattern for the second day in a row.
“I’m fired up, man,” he told the crowd and Mercer.
On Saturday, Sumrall said he was pleased with his tournament outing because he had a “very tough practice” while prefishing the St. Lawrence River. He also cited some “missed opportunities” on his third and final day on the St. Lawrence River.
A Canadian who specializes in smallmouth bass fishing is the one to beat going into Championship Sunday. Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Canada, owns the top spot after three days of fishing with a total of 66 pounds, 5 ounces. He had 24-7 Thursday, 22-12 Friday and 19-1 on Saturday.