Bryan Labelle Wins Toyota Series at Lake Champlain

Pro Bryan Labelle of Hinesburg, Vermont, brought five bass to the stage Saturday weighing 21 pounds, 10 ounces to win the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at Lake Champlain Presented by Boat Logix and earn the top payout of $86,500. Labelle’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 61-11 earned him the victory by a narrow 2-ounce margin over second place pro Kyle Hall of Granbury, Texas, who finished first at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Champlain last week.

The three-day event, hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, was the second event of the season for the Toyota Series Northern Division.

“It’s awesome, undoubtedly,” an excited Labelle said after earning the win. “I didn’t expect it. I didn’t think I was on that caliber of fish in practice, but it worked out.”

While others have made headlines with smallmouth in recent years, Labelle never hesitated on his plan for the week, going for a classic Champlain mixed bag every day. 

Day 1 saw him bring four largemouth to the scale. Day 2, he brought just one, and on the final day, three green ones made the cut.

Of course, his start to Day 2 would be the envy of any smallmouth specialist on the lake.

“I had 20 pounds, 1 ounce in 25 minutes on Day 2, and I said ‘I gotta go largemouth fishing,’” Labelle said. “So I did, but I only upgraded a little bit.

“I’m new to the forward-facing sonar. I’m a knucklehead when it comes to it,” he joked. “Learning it, it’s easier than what I thought. I guess I didn’t understand it. I was seeing a few fish, but I wasn’t seeing what these guys are. But on Day 2, I understood it very well. It was unbelievable, and undoubtedly it helped the win.”

Still, Labelle put quality largemouth in play every day, and he did it mostly in grass and on deeper rock, not the docks Champlain is so known for.

“The largemouth are not that good this year, they’re really not,” he shared. “I had a couple deals in Missisquoi early that I got some real big fish on, but that dried up and it became very tough. I thought it was going to be a good largemouth year, but I think it’s gone downhill. Forward-facing sonar I think is going to take some pressure off them, and that’ll be a good thing.

“I tried some docks. I tried to mix in a few, but they’re just not on the docks good. I’ve got some rocks a little bit deeper that really helped, and grass. The grass really wasn’t all that good. I didn’t get a lot of big bites – I feel like I got lucky with the fish I caught.”

For baits, Labelle said he caught fish on his trusty ½-ounce Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Flippin’ Jig, plus a drop-shot with either a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flatnose Minnow in white or a perch-colored Jackall Crosstail Shad.

The top 10 pros on Lake Champlain finished:

1st:          Bryan Labelle, Hinesburg, Vt., 15 bass, 61-11, $86,500 (including $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
2nd:         Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 15 bass, 61-9, $20,000
3rd:         Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 15 bass, 60-7, $14,250
4th:         Brett Carnright, Plattsburgh, N.Y., 13 bass, 60-5, $12,250
5th:         Wayne Vaughan, Chester, Va., 15 bass, 59-12, $11,250
6th:         Joseph Thompson, Coatesville, Pa., 15 bass, 59-6, $9,125
7th:         Stephen Estes, Auburn, N.H., 15 bass, 59-6, $7,900
8th:         Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 15 bass, 58-15, $6,900
9th:         Kyle Gelles, Pingree, Idaho, 15 bass, 58-3, $5,900
10th:       Colby Miller, Elmer, La., 15 bass, 57-14, $4,500

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Pro Jimmy Kennedy of Plainfield, Vermont, won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Thursday with a largemouth weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. On Friday, pros Wendell Causey, Jr., of Irmo, South Carolina, and Scott Wiley of Bay Minette, Alabama, split the $500 Berkley Big Bass award after each brought a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass to the scale.

Labelle took home an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

Tim Nichols of Pittsgrove, New Jersey, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Thursday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 54 pounds, 4 ounces. Nichols took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Lake Champlain finished:

1st:          Tim Nichols, Pittsgrove, N.J., 15 bass, 54-4, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd:         Chad Dorney, Slatington, Pa., 15 bass, 49-7, $6,125
3rd:         Cody Howard, Snow Hill, N.C., 15 bass, 48-13, $5,050
4th:         Jim Opetaia-Williamson, Winter Garden, Fla., 13 bass, 46-5, $3,950
5th:         Randy Sullivan, Breckenridge, Texas, 15 bass, 46-4, $3,450
6th:         Todd Adamitis, Glen Carbon, Ill., 13 bass, 44-7, $2,950
7th:         Lenny Baird, Stafford, Va., 14 bass, 44-4, $2,850
8th:         Carter Wijangco, Naperville, Ill., 12 bass, 42-1, $1,975
9th:         Ryan Fronina, Mohrsville, Pa., 14 bass, 40-13, $1,590
10th:       Harry Moore, Clarington, Ohio, 12 bass, 40-3, $1,350

The Day 1 Berkley Big Bass $150 award winner in the Strike King co-angler division, was Drew Crawford of Knightstown, Indiana, with a 5-pound, 13-ounce bass, while the Day 2 $150 award went to Leslie Brandenburg of Springfield, Missouri, with a 5-pound, 9-ounce fish.

After two events in the Toyota Series Northern Division, pro Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, leads the Toyota Series Northern Division Pro Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 512 points, while Carter Wiijangco of Naperville, Illinois, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 513 points.

The next event for Toyota Series Northern Division anglers will take place Sept. 22-24 – the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Boat Logix in Massena, New York. For a complete schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2022 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains Presented by Outlaw Ordnance, Southern, Southwestern Presented by Outlaw Ordnance and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions and finish in the top 25 – or the top 12 from the Wild Card division – will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 cash. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2022 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Championship will be held Nov. 3-5 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama, and is hosted by Marshall County Tourism and Sports.

Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, AFTCO, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Outlaw Ordnance, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.

For complete details and updated information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitterInstagram and  YouTube.

About Major League Fishing

Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019, MLF expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh, and immediately release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement, and fish care.

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