OACOMA, S.D.-- South Dakota angler Monty Fralick took an unexpected swim in Francis Case Lake en route to winning his first B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional.
“I had dropped my (brand new) sunglasses and I saw them going down and I thought I could catch them,” the 60-year-old Fralick said. “I caught them and I learned that I could still swim. My partner just pulled me back over the side and we just kept fishing.”
While in the boat, Fralick managed to catch a 9-pound, 14-ounce limit to win the divisional title with 29-1. “This has been a goal my whole life - fishing to win this Northern Divisional - and I just can’t believe it happened,” the Bon Homme Bass Club member said.
After catching only one keeper weighing 1-14 and sitting in 42nd place after the first day, Fralick struck it rich and moved to the top spot the second day when he found a school of smallmouth bass that yielded the heaviest limit of the tournament at 17-5.
“I was fishing stump flats and there were humps inside the stump flats that were probably about 2 1/2 feet deep,” said Fralick, the father of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jami Fralick.
“A lot of times those smallmouth would stack on there, if there was a little bit of weeds on that. So the key spots were the humps with a little bit of weeds on them.”
Today however, Fralick got only one bite on the humps.
“So then I immediately went into scramble mode and caught the fish,” he said. “I had a little ditch that ended up paying off but it was only good when the current was right.
"I just kept checking it and it was good today. It was on fire when I first got there for a few minutes and then the current changed. So if I hadn’t gone there when I did I wouldn’t have caught those fish.”
The main lure he relied on was a green pumpkin Snack Daddy plastic tube stuffed with a 3/8-ounce football jighead.
He also caught some fish today on a LuckyCraft wake bait and a Power Team Tackle minnow bait on a drop shot rig.
By winning his first divisional and finishing as the top angler on his South Dakota team, Fralick earned a berth in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship (BNC) to be held on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas Oct. 24-26.
Other state winners who qualified for the BNC were David Junk, Illinois; Nathan Gray, Indiana; Dan Parker, Iowa; Ted Prisbe, Michigan; Jim Severson, Minnesota; Stan Dodson, Ohio; and Jim Barczak.
Team championship honors went to the Minnesota squad with 134 pounds, 7 ounces.
The host South Dakota squad finished second with 120-14.