PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.— As president of the Vermont BASS Federation Nation, all Sean Alvarez of Rutland wanted to do was make sure his team could be mentally hyped to compete on Lake Champlain, site of the Nation’s regional Eastern Divisional event.

Instead, he took the overall lead as the competition began Wednesday with an impressive limit of smallmouth bass that weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces.

“I really came here just to get our team set, you know, have them mentally prepared as a team to do well in this event,” he said. “We share one half of the lake with New York so it would only make sense for us to be a contender.”

Fishing as a co-angler, Alvarez discovered that he and first-day partner Josh Platt of Maine shared similar fishing strategies. So instead of competing against each other, as tournament anglers oftentimes do, the pair wisely combined their strengths to compete against the fish.

“We worked together,” added Alvarez. “We put together a milk run of our mutual areas and just stopped at them one by one.”

Alvarez said the duo combined to target smallmouth exclusively and made stops in both shallow and deep water where the fish congregated around ledges and other rocky bottom structure in the lake.

Overall, the anglers targeted a mix of largemouth and smallmouth with the latter bass emerging as the most consistent producer of quality five-bass limits.

Crowning an overall winner on Friday is only one part of this unique tournament format. The top finisher from each of the eight states and providence Federation Nations represented here advance to the BASS Federation Nation Championship, the sport’s exclusive amateur world finals.

Leading their states after Wednesday’s competition are Alvarez (Vermont), John Knowles (Connecticut), Robert Daly (Massachusetts), Lawrence Hogue (Maine), Brian Morin (New Hampshire), Joseph Matt (New York), Richard Verry (Rhode Island) and Mark Rorke (Ontario).

In the team competition, the eight Federation Nation teams are vying for a total payout of $31,000, with the prize monies to be used for each state’s conservation, civic and fishing outreach programs.

Massachusetts has taken commanding first-round bragging rights with its 12-angler team weighing a collective score of 146 pounds, 3 ounces. Rhode Island is second with 130-6 and host state New York close behind with 130-2. Connecticut is fourth with 128-2 with New Hampshire holding down fifth place with 116-6.

Daily weigh-ins begin at 2:30 p.m. ET at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin.

This divisional is next to last on the schedule of regional events that will qualify anglers to the Federation Nation championship set for January 2007 on Alabama’s Lake Neely Henry. From there, six Federation Nation anglers will advance to the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the sport’s most prestigious event that will crown its world champion in February on Alabama’s Lay Lake.

To download related photos of the Federation Nation event, click here. To register for a username and password, click here.

Sponsors of the Federation Nation include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide and Evan Williams.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit