By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Micah Frazier posted on solid finish, one decent showing and one bomb in his first three visits to the St. Lawrence River. He discovered something in 2018, when he ended up 19th, that helped him capture his first tour-level victory in last week's Bassmaster Elite Series event.
"The Ned Rig is 'the deal' on that river," he said of the finesse presentation involving a mushroom-style jighead and (oftentimes) a thick, stubby plastic worm. "I learned that last year and I have a lot of confidence in it.
"It's about all I threw in practice because I know if I get it around the fish, they're going to bite it. It's not a matter of throwing it the right way, it's just getting it in the right areas."
Frazier, a ninth-year pro from Georgia, didn't break into the top 10 until the field was reduced to that number for the final round, and even then he was right on the cut line. He then caught the biggest bag of the derby (25-09) on day 4 to overtake the other nine survivors, including three-day leader Chris Johnston, a semi-local who ended up having to settle for 2nd place.
Frazier finished with an 87-04 total and was the only competitor to eclipse the 20-pound mark on all four days. His victory pushed him from 20th to 10th in the Angler of the Year race with two regular-season tournaments and the championship event still ahead.
Following are some of the details of his triumph on the renowned smallmouth fishery in western New York.
Competitor's Tip Was Key
Frazier began his practice in the vicinity of Brockville in the Canadian province of Ontario, where many of the top finishes in last year's derby had fished. However, he got a tip from Stetson Blaylock (with whom he shares information) that there were good bites to be had farther upstream around Ogdensburg.
"There aren't many people out here who'll tell you the absolute truth, but what he tells me I can take to the bank," Frazier said of Blaylock. "The insight he gave me is what got me to come up and spend time in the Ogdensburg area. Without it, I'd have just been doing my thing down at the other end."
He found eight locales where he could make drifts with the Ned Rig and tap into the type of quality that's needed to contend at the St. Lawrence. The fish were holding at a variety of depths ranging from 15 to 45 feet.
"Some of those (depth extremes) were on the same places," he said. "I might catch one at the top of the drift and then one on the backside of a bar at the bottom. A lot of places had little sweet spots to drift over, but a lot of it was random, too."
> Day 1: 5, 20-11
> Day 2: 5, 20-10
> Day 3: 5, 20-06
> Day 4: 5, 25-09
> Total = 20, 87-04
Frazier managed 20-pound stringers on each of the first three days despite conditions that he described as slightly less than ideal for what he was doing.
"I was battling the wind blowing against the current most of the time and it was making it hard to drift," he said. "I had to make a lot of adjustments with the trolling motor to get it right."
He encountered no such difficult on day 4. He could drift freely with the water, his boat and his bait all moving at the same speed, creating a seemingly natural presentation. It resulted in a stringer that was more than a pound heavier than any other caught during the event.
He caught two big ones on his first drift and just kept hooking up throughout the day. His bulging bag included a monster that was just shy of 6 pounds and no fish lighter than 4-12. He estimated that he went through 25 or 30 keepers and at least 10 of them were over 4 pounds.
"I ended up putting lots of fish on the balance beam," he said.
Winning Gear Notes
> Ned Rig gear: 7' medium-action Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier Spin rod, Abu Garcia Revo MGXtreme spinning reel, 12-pound Sunline SX1 braided line (hi-visible yellow), 8-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon (12' leader), various 1/8- to 1/4-ounce mushroom-style jigheads (depending on depth), prototype 3" Yum Ned Dinger (green-pumpkin).
> He said the Yum Ned Dinger's hollow tail cavity creates much more buoyancy than similar baits.
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