WADDINGTON, N.Y. — After a rocky start, Timothy Dube of Nashua, N.H., regrouped, secured his limit and claimed a wire-to-wire win at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Northeast Regional at the St. Lawrence River with a three-day total of 62 pounds, 10 ounces.
Setting the Day 1 mark with 23-3, Dube added a second-day limit of 21-4. After entering Championship Friday with a lead of 2-1 over Hamburg, N.Y.’s Billy Gilbert, Dube finished with 18-3 and edged Danny McGarry of Newcastle, Canada, by 1-14.
Dube won the top prize of $5,500 and qualified for the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which will be held Nov. 9-11 on Pickwick Lake. The top boater and nonboater from each state and the province of Ontario qualified for the championship.
“Eight years ago, I fished my first qualifier and I never thought I’d be here,” Dube said of his win. “I have no words for this.”
The first two days saw Dube enjoying remarkable efficiency by catching his four-bass limit on his first four stops. The final round tested him with an early frustration, but Dube was able to overcome the setback and rally for the win.
“Today was a struggle; it was the first day all week that I’ve lost fish,” Dube said. “I worked on a big fish that was about 5 pounds for about an hour early in the morning, finally got it to bite, and she came off and disappeared.
“I was definitely nervous. I didn’t even have a fish in the boat when I lost that big one and I thought ‘Here we go.’ But I put the train back on the tracks, found some other fish and caught my limit.”
Targeting bottom with a rock/sand/gravel mix, Dube caught his fish on a Ned rig with a 3/8-ounce Swagger Tungsten head and a goby colored Z-Man Finesse T.R.D. and a drop shot with a 1-ounce weight, a No. 1 Owner mosquito hook and a white Berkley MaxScent Flatworm.
Day 1 brought mostly sunny skies, but Day 2 saw dimming cloud cover. Sunshine returned for the final round, but while Dube found the brighter day facilitated his sight fishing, the fish seemed to be in a finicky mood.
“Today it was about reading the mood of the fish and seeing how they reacted,” Dube said. “Today, they wanted it on the bottom, so instead of using a short drop-shot leader, I just used the Ned. I lost two fish on the drop shot today, so I switched over to the Ned and had better hook ups.”
Essential to his success, Dube expanded his territory. For two days, Dube fished upriver in the Alexandria Bay area, where vast land masses in the heart of the famed Thousand Islands region created more of the current breaks that smallmouth need for spawning.
“Today, I went to the Clayton, N.Y., area, past the American Narrows,” Dube said. “There seemed to be more fish pulling up every day in that general area and Alex Bay and this weather pulled even more up.”
Representing the Ontario team, McGarry spent all three days at the tournament’s western boundary where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River. Relying on his knowledge of this area, he turned in daily bags of 21-0, 20-6 and 19-6 to tally 60-12.
“I put probably 300 to 400 miles on my Mercury the past three days,” McGarry said. “I caught a lot of bedding fish and it was a good week.
“I caught my fish in 8 to 12 feet on sparse rock. It’s not everywhere, but when you do find it, they’re usually in it this time of year.”
McGarry caught his fish by drop shotting an XZone Finesse Slammer and a Ned rig with a Z-Man Finesse T.R.D. The drop shot produced the majority of his weight.
“I had to work on all of my fish for about 15 minutes each today,” McGarry said. “They were being tricky and I had to keep switching up baits.”
Brad Brodnicki of Buffalo, N.Y., finished third with 60-8. Focusing on bed fish, he used drop shots and turned in daily weights of 21-4, 20-5 and 18-15.
“Today, I made the run to Clayton,” Brodnicki said. “The first two days, the farthest I went was Morristown. I practiced in Clayton on Tuesday, found some fish and saved them for the third day.
“I had to space it out and today was the day to make that run.”
Thomas Waltz of St. Albans, Vt., won the $500 Big Bass award with a 6-9.
Dube also took home the $500 Garmin Tournament Rewards prize.
Tracy Rich of North Bay, Ontario, won the nonboater division with 36-12. Making his first trip to the St. Lawrence, Rich weighed daily limits of 12-12, 10-8 and 13-8 and earned the top prize of $2,750.
Rich caught his fish on a mix of drop shots with 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat, swimbaits, spy baits, a 4-inch YUM Dinger on a light ball head jig and a Ned.
“The first two days, I fished my baits really slow because we were fishing deeper water,” Rich said. “Today, I had to cast to the bed and let it sit there.”
Cole Moulton of Enfield, N.H., a former member of the Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, won the $250 Big Bass award among nonboaters with a 5-15.
The event was hosted by the Village of Waddington and St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. This tournament is supported by a Market New York grant from I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism awarded as part of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.