First let’s get this straight:
> He went from 10th to 1st in 1 day
> 5 lbs outta 1st to start day 4
> Made up that margin over a BUNCH of sticks on a SMALLMOUTH river, meaning no chances for 8-lb bites to leapfrog folks
How ’bout that?! Told Micah he honestly wasn’t even on my radar to possibly win that deal, didn’t think it was possible. He said:
> “I didn’t either. I just went out fun-fishing, no pressure. It was just a special day — kind of a blessing. If I would’ve thought I had a shot, I might not have caught what I needed.
> “…coming from that far back…no pressure til I caught that 6-lber. Then I kind of had a feeling it was gonna happen — which is really weird coming from me. I’m really not the kind of guy who thinks I’ll win every tournament. With that 6-lber I had over 20 lbs and it was just one of those magical deals. It felt like it might be my time to win one.”
Aaaaaaaaand — that’s how it went down. He sacked the biggest bag of the tourney and won it. Np mang! And he used a dang do-nothing Neddy Flanders Rig all 4 days! Why that vs the ol’-reliable dropshot:
> “The story behind that was last year [at the St. Lawrence] I was in a really good area — I threw a dropshot on day 1 and really struggled to get bit…I had 18 lbs on day 1. Day 2 I started throwing that Ned Rig, and I had 23-14 and caught 5x as many fish. The 3rd day I had 21-05.
> “So…couldn’t wait to get back and drag a Ned Rig. It’s one of my favorite ways to catch ’em…lot of confidence in it up here.”
He used the just-coming-out YUM Ned Dinger in gp and a 2-tone prototype color that YUM’s Chad “cray man” Warner poured:
> Gp: “…just a good all-around color. Smallmouth aren’t the most intelligent fish in the world…they see that little thing scooting across the bottom and they just want it.”
> Prototype color: “The bottom is purple and the top is gp. The thought process behind it was gp in the morning and deeper — lower-light situations — and as the sun got up [and fishing shallower] I started using the other one…don’t think it mattered….
> “I used all kind of generic mushroom Ned heads — 1/8-oz up shallow and 1/4-oz deep…black and gp. They all had good hooks…not sure what hooks they were….
> “Those rods and reels were key — I think that’s the lightest spinning reel on the market. Drifting my bait in 40′ and 50′ of water, if a fish picked up my bait I could feel the difference. It’s one thing to have a light setup when you’e casting a shakey head, but when you’re doing the drifting deal you really gotta know what’s going on.”
Where and how
> “I was fishing shoals…like 90 degrees [to the current]…with the current flow across them. I can’t explain [why those ones] — the ones that [were perpendicular to the current] — got the bigger bites.
> “Depending on the spot some were as shallow as 15′, others were out to 40′ and 50′. I caught some legit 45′ fish in the tournament.
> “I just would kind of control the drift a little…try to keep the bait under the trolling motor. You could let it drag and feed it line, but it would get hung up all the time. The more vertical I kept it, the more productive I was. It protected the line better too…not snagging in all the mussels.”
> Electronics (Lowrance HDS-12 Lives): “…pretty straightforward. I did stare at ’em all day long, moreso to make sure I hit my waypoints. There were a few key little stretches on these deals…move around a little to drift across the right spots. The bait would be a little bit behind the boat.
> “If I saw an arch down there I’d maybe slow down a little bit and let out a little line to try and catch that fish. I caught several after I drifted over them.
> “It’s not much different than the way you’d drag a dropshot. If you learn how to drift a dropshot or a tube, it’s the same deal…. There’s an art to it, but not any different than any other bait [you drag].”
> Day 4: “I did lose fish but I can’t say they would’ve helped me.”
> Late takeoffs: “I think it made it better because the afternoon bite was so good.”
> In the day 4 weigh vid he thanked Stetson Blaylock for hippin’ him to some feesh.
> “That Z521L Ranger with the new Merc V8 is bad to the bone. I’ve been impressed with it all year…it’s one of best big-water boats I’ve ever owned. The motor has so much low-end torque you can really manage those big waves….”