Rookie Fujita moves into lead at Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Champlain

Everyone is allowed the same amount of fishing time, but after an opening round disappointment, Kyoya Fujita was particularly motivated to make the most of a full Day 2.

Returning to the same area of the Inland Sea where he fished on Day 1, the rookie from Minamitsuru, Yamanashi, Japan, tallied a two-day total of 45 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain.

After placing 10th on Day 1 with 21-5, Fujita added 23-14 — the event’s heaviest bag and leader for VMC Monster Bag honors. He heads into Semifinal Sunday with a 7-ounce lead over Alex Redwine of Blue Ash, Ohio.

“I had a boat problem on Day 1, so I couldn’t fish everything I wanted to fish,” Fujita said through a translator. “Today, I had more time to fish, so I did better.”

Fujita said he caught his fish on a drop shot and a minnow-style bait on a light ball-head jig. Keeping his distance, watching his fish on Garmin LiveScope and making precise presentations with a medium retrieve speed was the key to his success.

With cloudy skies and intermittent rain dimming the scene, Lake Champlain bore the turbid aftermath of a storm system that postponed the tournament’s second round by one day. While other competitors reported struggling to find consistency, Fujita said the Day 2 conditions did not hinder him.

“(The weather) was no problem,” he said. “I didn’t change anything from Day 1.”

Fujita’s action started early, as BassTrakk showed him with a limit of approximately 17 3/4 pounds shortly after 8 a.m. The first angler to report reaching 20 pounds, he continued to pick off quality fish and made his final cull around 12:30.

Fishing some of the same spots he visited on Day 1, Fujita expanded on his main area. He did most of his work on one particularly productive spot, but rotating through a handful of other spots allowed him to accumulate his leading weight.

“I don’t know why this one spot was better,” he said. “I located that spot in practice, and I just kept fishing it. My area had a lot of baitfish and that was important.

“I had a good day; I caught (approximately) 50 fish.”

Throughout the day, the Bassmaster LIVE cameras showed Fujita’s trademark calm, measured demeanor. Clearly, this relaxed style facilitated his flawless performance.

“The key to my success was I never lost a fish today,” Fujita said.

Redwine, who placed second on Day 1, also spent his day in the Inland Sea. He added a limit of 21-14 to his first-round bag of 22-14.

After a slow start, Redwine benefited from an afternoon day-maker, as he anchored his limit with a 5-pounder around 2:30. An hour later, he followed with a 4.

“I started on the same spot where a lot of things happened the first day early on,” Redwine said. “I caught one decent one and a few smaller ones, and I gave myself until about 11 o’clock. I left there and spent two hours elsewhere and caught one 4 1/2-pounder.

“I gave myself another two hours before going back to that starting spot and just grinding it out. Later in the day, the fish just set up better. I think the wind just slicked off and the rain stopped momentarily, so the fish were able to sit up higher in the water column and commit to my baits.”

Fishing in 20 to 40 feet, Redwine caught his fish on a Damiki rig. Sometimes, he’d vertically drop on the fish, but most of his presentations were casting.

Bryant Smith of Roseville, Calif., is in third place with 44-1. After placing fifth on Day 1 with 22-1, Smith virtually mirrored his performance with a 22-pound bag.

Making the strongest showing of his rookie season, Smith said the Lake Champlain fishery is like nothing he’s encountered in any of the West Coast’s diverse fisheries. However, he noted that his comfort level is growing daily.

“I know what I’m doing now, and I have confidence in it,” Smith said. “I know what to look for; the whole thing is just running into the right groups of fish.”

Like much of the field, Smith committed to the Inland Sea and used his Lowrance Active Target forward-facing sonar to hunt fish that were relating to bait schools. Referencing his contour map for likely areas, he caught his fish on a Damiki rig and a drop shot.

Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky., took the day's Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 5-4 and shares the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament with Jay Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis.

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., leads the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 660 points. Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., is in second with 643 points, followed by Drew Cook of Cairo, Ga., with 619, Przekurat with 616, and Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., with 613.

Joey Cifuentes III of Clinton, Ark., leads the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 598. Fujita is in second with 595.

Sunday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET at Plattsburgh City Marina. The weigh-in will be held at the marina at 3 p.m. FS1 will broadcast live with the leaders at 8 a.m. before coverage shifts to

The tournament is being hosted by the City of Plattsburgh and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau.