Well our buddy Jon Bondy plans on turning his season around in the coming weeks as he gets set to fish waters that touch both Canadian and US soils. Lake Champlain borders Vermont New York and the province of Quebec and if the smallmouth are on then Jon will be a force to be reckoned with. Fish On Line Canada Readers have become familiar with this lone Canadian professional bass angler through previous articles here. We caught up with Jon in early July as he prepared for the final stretch of the 2007 Elite Series.
The "Champions Choice Bassmaster Elite Series" event on Champlain runs July 12-15, 2007. This lake is a favorite stop for most competitors - with so much variety, one way or the other you can find water to your liking. We are happy to share with avid Fish On Line bass anglers, the following interview with our good ol' Canadian boy - Jon Bondy
Jon Bondy of Windsor Ontario is a rare breed here in Canada. He is a full time fisherman, who at 34 years of age has never had a job other than fishing. He has competed in tournaments since he was 16 years of age and has guided full time for 13 years. Jon is recognized as one of the premier full time multi-species fishing guides in the Windsor-Detroit area and is fully licensed to fish both U.S. and Canadian waters. Logging over 200 days every year on the water from March to December he is a busy guide who has clients from as far away as Japan.
As his prowess with a rod and reel grows Jon finds himself fishing bigger and bigger tournaments - often traveling south of the border to compete in some of the larger events. In 2005 while only fishing five major events Jon secured two 'Top 10' finishes in Bassmaster tournaments, including one second place spot. In 2006, Jon completed his rookie season on the Bassmaster Elite series. This is the premier professional circuit in North America. His best 2006 finish was on Table Rock Lake, Mo where he took 5th place overall. He's won over $117,000 during the last two seasons and qualified last year to fish the 2007 Bassmasters Elite Series. Jon is the only Canadian pro who qualified for this series and fishes in a beautifully wrapped Moose Tracks bass boat!
Are you excited about the upcoming Elite Series event on Champlain?
Yes I am. This will be our first crack at the smallies for the season, and with the way my year has gone, it can't come quick enough.
How many times have you fished it, how have you done and what do you think of this fishery?
I've fished it about four times, and have had great practices only to have my spots covered up come tournament time by other anglers. Or, the smallmouth have just moved on me - as they so often do by their very nature. Even with largemouth's I've had some bad luck. One year in an Open, I was doing real well catching them with a frog. Every pocket or bay I went into I would get at least four bites. A slight cold front came through the night before the event, and that was it, they wouldn't eat it. I had to flip them out of new water. I ended up in the middle of the pack as smallies dominated the event.
The thing about the Elites that is stunning to me is that if you have an average day, instead of finishing in the middle of the pack, you are at the bottom. Last season, the water was high, but I went for smallies. I wasn't catching many, but the ones I was getting were huge. I tried to force the smallies to bite, and it didn't work. The high water meant largemouth ruled, and as we all know Denny Brauer won with them pitching to pencil reeds.
Can we assume then that your style of fishing lends itself more to the lake's offshore smallmouth than the shallower largemouth?
Yes, I am typically an offshore structure fisherman. I was a student of guys like Paul Elias and Mickey Bruce growing up, both excellent offshore anglers.
I guess all the bass will be finished spawning?
The water is in the mid 60's from what I heard, so it should be mostly done. However, if there is one single nest left in the entire lake, at least 10 of these guys will find it!
How far 'offshore' do you think smallmouth will be this early in the season?
My hope is that they will be deep, maybe as deep as 40 ft. This lake is weird; some guys catch them deep all season long. I went up there about a month ago and spent about a week just graphing it. I found at least 75-100 separate deep water spots, mostly subtle rock points, turns, etc. from 15-40ft deep, so I hope it pays off.
What type of structure do you think they will relate to now vs later in the year?
There could be a lot shallow too so I surely will not discount the jerk bait bite. That could be awesome too. I'll likely spend most of my first day with a jerkbait tied on.
How will high water play a role? What about normal or even low water levels - could this be possible, and if so, how will your gameplan change?
The largemouth will always be a factor; they always are on Champlain but the water level is at about 96ft, where it was at 99+ when Denny won last year, so the smallies will be a big player.
Do you think this lake will lend itself more to a run and gun style of fishing - with multiple spots to fish, or will you need to milk a few key areas thoroughly in order to weigh-in a good sack?
I've never been a run and gunner, just a milker. I fish slow, milking every last fish from my area. Kind of like Mark Davis likes to fish…slow and methodical.
Will your gameplan change if you find the smallmouth aren't cooperating? Are you confident in the largemouth areas you know on this big lake as well?
I have some good largemouth areas in the north end and. I am willing to chase them, but only out of desperation…
At 107 miles long and 14 miles wide, Champlain offers plenty of room to spread out. Map Courtesy of Bassmaster.com
Finally on the lighter side … you were quoted recently by ESPN/BASS in their regular "Weirdest Catch" segment as having once caught a horseshoe in the Detroit River. Did you save that horseshoe and has it ever brought you any luck? Where is it now? Have you ever caught anything else rather strange?
No, I gave that horseshoe to my customer. I'm not even too sure what he did with it to be honest with you.
I would say the other weird thing I've seen, happened one day when we saw a a big fat Butterball turkey … still in the package … come floating down the river … just bobbing along…! I told the clients I had out for the day that it really wasn't a big deal around here until the box of Stove Top Stuffing comes down ½ an hour later! Still, the sight of that turkey on the river sure was a crazy sight.
Jon with the type of beautiful smallmouth he hopes to weigh in during the Elite Series on Lake Champlain