By Todd Ceisner
Micah Frazier recalls getting his first taste of the Forrest Wood Cup. It was 2 years ago at Lake Lanier, site of this year’s Cup. He’d qualified as a co-angler and was fortunate to draw Californians Cody Meyer and Brent Ehrler, respectively, as his pros the first 2 days.
Both pros were in the Top 10 throughout the event so Frazier had a pretty good seat to watch the two dropshot sages ply their trade on the brush piles Lanier’s known for.
“I couldn’t have gotten any better draws,” he recalled. “I didn’t learn everything they knew about dropshotting, but I definitely saw what it takes to do well.”
In a few days, Frazier will be one of the 46 pros calling the shots from the front deck when the Cup returns to Lanier, just an hour’s drive from his home in Newnan, Ga. He’s excited for the opportunity to fish against the FLW’s best in front of plenty of friends and family.
“It means everything,” he said. “This deal is a lot more meaningful and to be able to qualify for the Cup at home makes it more special because everybody can come watch.”
The common refrain among pro anglers is that much of their success is due to momentum and confidence. Frazier got a stiff jolt of both when he finished 2nd to Ehrler at the season’s first Major at Lake Hartwell.
“It was definitely a boost of confidence,” he said. “A goal I had for myself this year was to make a Top-10 cut. Last year, I had some opportunities that I missed on. I’d catch them one day and expected to catch them the next, but didn’t. To start the year off like that and take 2nd, that was pretty awesome. With five tournaments left, I knew I still had to catch them. The competition’s pretty stiff. You can’t slack off.”
Not that he slacked off at Table Rock 3 weeks later, but he committed to a sight-fishing pattern that just didn’t produce and it resulted in a season-worst 118th-place finish.
“I should’ve gone up there and shallow cranked like I did at Hartwell and I would’ve been fine,” he said. “But I kept seeing those big fish up in the shallows trying to make beds. I made the wrong move and thought they were going to lock down. On the last day of practice I kept seeing more and more fish up in the shallows. They just didn’t do what I though they were going to do. The water was falling and they were kind of spooky. I could see 20 to 25 pounds of bass each day. I just couldn’t catch them.”
He bounced back over the final four Majors, finishing no lower than 57th to lock up 28th place in the points standings and secure his first Cup berth as a pro. While he’s thrilled to have a chance to fish for a $500,000 payday, he’s taking it as just one step down what he hopes is a life-long career path.
“I want to be a household name,” he said. “I’d love to be one of those guys. I want to establish myself as a competitor and leave no doubt that at any given tournament to just be up there in contention.”
Frazier spent more than a week at Lanier before the off-limits period, getting a feel for the lake he fished sparingly while growing up. He’s pegged “several hundred” brush piles and that’s likely how he’ll fish the tournament, barring some sort of seismic shift in where the fish are holding. In that way, it’s reminiscent of 2010.
“It’s very similar this year, but it’s a little different because it seems like the swimbait bite is a little better,” he said. “It might change a lot, but they seem to be willing to come up and eat something more than in 2010.”
While some BassFans might be quick to lump Hartwell and Lanier together as similar fisheries, he’s quick to point out Lanier’s largemouth shortage will likely make this year’s Cup a spotted bass event.
“It’s a herring lake and there are fish that get out and chase those herring, but they’re two totally different lakes,” he said. “Hartwell’s largemouth population is greater and they’ll get out and chase herring over open water. At Lanier, the largemouth don’t do that. You have to go, whether it is up the river or back in a creek and find the stained water to catch them or target them.”
With Wahoo Creek off limits for the Cup, he doesn’t expect anyone to get into a swarm of bigmouths.
“Someone might have a largemouth or two each day, but I don’t know if I can see someone winning on largemouths only or really do well on them 4 days in a row,” he added. “I may be wrong, but I think spots will win it for sure.”