His winning spot in Canadian waters out of the picture, Micah Frazier is working to find new areas to defend his title in this week’s SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River.
Frazier, of Newman, Ga., was consistent the first three days of last year’s tournament on the St. Lawrence before a big rally. His 87-4 total gave him a 14-ounce margin over three-day leader Chris Johnston and landed Frazier his first B.A.S.S. title.
“I’m excited to get back. It’s just a special place up there,” Frazier said. “Having won, of course, makes me excited for that. It’s just somewhere I enjoy anyways. I’ve always loved going to upstate New York. Coming from Atlanta, it’s so hot down there. It’s kind of a getaway to go up there in the summer. It’s nice, mild temperatures, it’s pretty country and the fishing is always good.”
Considered by some the smallmouth bass capital of the world, the St. Lawrence has ranked high in Bassmaster Magazine’s annual Best Bass Lakes. It was the top-rated fishery last year and stands 12th in the decade rankings. Last year on Day 1, there were 25 bags topping 20 pounds, and the field was one fish short of filling limits all four days. The 4-pound fish are abundant, and Frazier said the key is finding bass closer to 5 pounds.
“That’s always the goal,” he said. “You have to be on the right section of the river. You do that and capitalize on everything, I feel like you’ve got a chance to be in contention. It seems like there’s always an area that has better quality and more numbers of those size fish. Last year, 100% of the guys ended up where I won. That 2- or 3-mile section of river was better than everywhere else.”
It was north of the international border that splits the river where Frazier said he caught 98% of his fish, which is off limits now because of coronavirus restrictions. The takeoff and weigh-ins were also moved to Clayton, only 15 miles from Lake Ontario, the U.S. waters of which will be in play.
“I might look at that some,” he said of Ontario, where Brandon Palaniuk fished during his 2013 victory. “I know before it used to be the lake fish were a lot bigger than the river, but I’m not sure if that’s the case anymore. Just judging from the weights we’ve seen in our events out of the river, the weights have gone up a lot over the last five or six years. I’m going to say a guy can still keep in the river.”
Frazier reached Championship Sunday as the 10th and final angler by half a pound, then continued what’s becoming all the rage by leapfrogging nine others. Jamie Hartman jumped from 10th to win at Lake Guntersville last July, and Buddy Gross did the same last month on Lake Eufaula. It’s been somewhat trendy with three of the last seven Elite tournaments playing out last to first.