Top lures at St. Lawrence River Open 2023

Here are the baits and techniques the pros used to catch big bags of smallmouth at the St. Croix Rods Bassmaster Open at St. Lawrence River.

Although postspawn conditions made fishing a little tougher than normal, the St. Lawrence River once again impressed during the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Open. Big bags of smallmouth hit the scales as well as some quality largemouth.
While plenty of anglers stayed closer and accumulated important points, almost the entire Top 10 made the long run to the mouth of the river in search of better than average quality. Cory Johnston and Jody White battled for the top spot all tournament, and in the end, White secured 23-10 on the final day to overtake Johnston and win his first Open.
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Gary Miller (10th place, 53-1): Gary Miller targeted smallmouth with two techniques.
The Canadian boater built a custom black marabou hair jig using a 1/5-ounce Z-Man NedlockZ HD Ned head.
He also threw a Duo Realis Spinbait 80 in the green smelt color.
Josh Bragg (9th place, 59-15): Josh Bragg caught the majority of his weight with three baits.
A 3/8-ounce Ned rig with a Berkley MaxScent Lil’ General One in Canada craw was a top choice.
He also tossed a 3/32-ounce homemade marabou hair jig. For a little extra weight for better casting, he threaded a piece of soft plastic onto the hook.
A drop shot built with a No. 4 Trokar drop-shot hook, Megabass Hazedong Shad and a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight was another top choice for Bragg.
Rich Ortiz (8th place, 60-13): Rich Ortiz notched a Top 10 finish by targeting smallmouth with three different baits.
Ortiz threw a 3/8-ounce PB&J Missile Baits Micro Jig with a Lil’ General trailer that he split at the end for added action.
A 1/8-ounce OutKast Feider Fly hair jig with a Lil’ General trailer also was a key contributor.
He then threw a drop shot with a 2/0 Gamakatsu Aaron Martens drop-shot hook and a 3/8-ounce weight that he cuts down slightly to avoid hang ups. In cloudy conditions, Ortiz used a Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm in brown back or white and switched to a Flatnose Minnow in sunny conditions.
JT Thompkins (7th place, 62-12): JT Thompkins cashed his fifth straight check.
Thompkins moved into first place in EQ points by using one primary bait.
Thompkins threw a 3 1/2-inch Strike King Baby ZToo in the shiner color on a 1/2-ounce drop-shot rig. Instead of nose-hooking the bait, he threaded the ZToo on a G-Finesse light wire worm hook to increase his hookup ratio.
Brent Anderson (6th place, 63-1): Anderson was one of the few anglers to have Top 10 success closer to takeoff in Waddington.
Two baits did most of Anderson’s damage.
Anderson built a drop-shot rig using a 4.25 green pumpkin Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm, a 3/8-ounce drop-shot weight and a No. 1 Gamakatsu Aaron Martens G Finesse hook. 
Nicknamed “Goby-Wan Kenobi,” Anderson also threw this homemade jig which will be available at Harpeth River Outfitters soon. Using a 1/4-ounce football head with a bait keeper and a green skirt, he added a Z-Man TRD in green pumpkin goby to generate bites.
Ready to go catch some big brown bass? has everything you need, including all the baits used by the pro’s this week at the St. Lawrence River.
Zach Goutremout (5th place, 65-7): Zach Goutremout notched his first Top 10 of the season on his home waters using three different presentations.
Goutremout built a drop shot using a Missile Baits Bomb Shot in black, a No. 2 Gamakatsu split shot/drop-shot hook and a 1/2-ounce Omega Custom Tackle drop-shot weight.
He also dragged a Beast Coast Open Water Sniper Jig in MB pumpkin with a Missile Baits Ned Bomb trailer in goby.
Several of his bigger bites came on a Carolina rig with a 1/2-ounce tungsten weight and a Missile Baits Baby D Stroyer in super bug.
Bo Thomas (4th place, 65-9): Thomas used one primary bait last week in New York.
This simple approach notched Thomas his first top five of the season.
Thomas tossed a drop shot built with a Gamakatsu drop-shot hook with a 3-inch Megabass Hazedong Shad and a 3/8-ounce Eco Pro Tungsten.
Jamie Bruce (3rd place, 69-12): Bruce notched his first top five of the season.
Bruce called on three different presentations.
Bruce caught pelagic smallmouth using a 3/8-ounce Bass Tactics Fishing Smeltinator Underspin with a 3-inch Z-Man Slim SwimZ in the slam shady color.
Bruce also threw a 4-inch Z-Man scented Jerk ShadZ on a drop shot built with a No. 4 VMC Redline drop-shot hook with a 1/2-ounce VMC tungsten weight.
He also utilized a 3/8-ounce, 2/0 BT Fishing Crusher football jig with a Z-Man TRD TicklerZ trailer.
Cory Johnston (2nd place, 70-1): Johnston used one primary technique to secure three bags over 20 pounds on his way to a runner-up finish.
Johnston caught the majority of his smallmouth on a prototype 6th Sense soft plastic rigged on a drop shot. He built his rig with a No. 2 Gamakatsu G-Finesse hook and a 3/8-ounce 6th Sense tungsten weight.
Jody White (1st place, 71-15): Vermont’s Jody White claimed his first Opens championship on the boater side.
White used three smallmouth techniques to land the victory.
He caught many of his smallmouth on a 3.3 or 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbait threaded onto a 3/8-ounce Queen Tackle tungsten ball head.
He also caught smallies with a 3/4-ounce Carolina Rig complete with a 3/0 Gamakatsu Hybrid worm hook and a green pumpkin Zoom Speed Craw.
A drop shot was a big player as well. He used a green pumpkin or brown back colored Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm with a No. 2 Gamakatsu split shot/drop-shot hook and a 3/8-ounce weight.