By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

The blueprint for winning Bassmaster Elite Series events appears to be clearly established: Squeak into the final round in the No. 10 position, then catch a giant bag on day 4 to leapfrog the nine anglers in front of you and claim the trophy and the six-figure paycheck.

That seemingly unlikely scenario played out for the second straight tournament as Micah Frazier, a ninth-year pro from Georgia, captured his first tour-level victory at the St. Lawrence River near the Canadian border in western New York. His 25-09 stringer, the heaviest of the derby, left him 14 ounces clear of runner-up Chris Johnston, who'd led after each of the first three days.

Jamie Hartman had pulled off the 10th-to-1st trick at the previous Elite Series stop at Lake Guntersville in June.

"This has been my passion ever since I was a little kid," Frazier said on stage in the immediate aftermath of the weigh-in. "There's no better feeling than cruising in here with 25 pounds of smallmouth in your livewell.

"This wasn't on my radar this morning when I left the dock in 10th place. When I was 16, 17, 18 years old I just wanted to be here and up until a few years ago I was content just being here. To catch 25 pounds and win against guys who really know this fishery and how to approach it, I'm speechless."

Johnston certainly didn't choke away the win he caught a 20-10 stringer for an 86-06 total. Scott Canterbury, the new leader in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race, was 3rd with 84-08 (21-05 on day 4), followed by Keith Combs with 84-04 (21-14) and Jay Yelas with 83-01 (19-01).

The remainder of the top 10 consisted of Steve Kennedy with 82-05 (20-04), Ray Hanselman with 81-12 (17-12), rookie Greg DiPalma with 81-11 (17-10), Chris Zaldain with 78-04 (12-05) and Brian Snowden with 74-06 (12-00).

Frazier will have no time to celebrate his victory as the circuit gets right back in action this week at Cayuga Lake, which is just over a three-hour drive from the St. Lawrence. Practice at Cayuga, the eighth stop in the nine-event regular season, gets under way Monday.

Frazier's previous best finish as a pro was a runner-up showing at the 2012 Lake Hartwell FLW Tour. He'd logged two 3rds, both this season one at Hartwell and one in the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest at Lake Fork.

"It feels good, man," he said. "I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. It's just crazy.

"I knew I had a giant bag, but I didn't know exactly how big, depending on what a couple of the fish weighed. I didn't do anything different than I'd done all tournament; I just got a few bigger bites."

Every fish he caught for the week came on a 3" prototype Yum Ned Dinger attached to various mushroom-head jigs (full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published this week). He visited eight spots on the final day, but caught all of his weigh-in fish from two of them. The biggest on his stringer was a 5-14 bruiser and the smallest was a 4 3/4-pounder.

"It was just my time, I really believe that. When you catch one that's almost 6 pounds, that's a game-changer in these type of tournaments."

Johnston considered making a long run to fish near Lake Ontario on the final day, but opted against it. He second-guessed that decision in the aftermath, but was more regretful of the big fish he lost during the event.

"It's frustrating; if I'd gotten just one of those into the boat I'd have won it," he said. "And then you don't expect somebody to go out and catch almost 26 pounds."



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Second-place finisher Chris Johnson caught three quality fish in the opening hours of day 4, but no more after that.

He boxed three fish in excess of 4 pounds during the first 3 hours in the final day, but managed no more thereafter.

"I had four hours to catch two that weighed 4-plus, but it just didn't happen."

Canterbury, who bounced up and down the top 10 throughout the tournament, was pleased with where he ended up.

"It was a really good finish, for sure," he said. "To come out of here with a top-5 is awesome."

He caught a 5-13 early in the day and a 5-pounder toward the end. He handled at least 15 keepers and didn't lose any that would've helped him.

An 18 1/2-pound haul on day 3 prevented Combs, a two-time winner on the Elite Series, from making a stronger run at the win.

"I struggled yesterday and that cost me," he said. "But I fished pretty clean this week I only lost one big fish all week. It's a great finish and I'll dang sure take it."

He went through about 25 keepers and took a pair of 5-pounder to the scale.

Yelas, who was fishing the FLW Tour during the Elite Series' four prior stops in Waddington, N.Y., had a blast on his maiden visit and left with his best tournament finish since 2013.

"It was good to be in contention again and I just had a ball all week," he said. "On the first (competition) day I caught a 5-pounder on my first bite and my last fish today was another 5, so I had those two bookend fish and a whole lot of fun in between.

"Every place that looks like it could or should hold a bass had one on it. The big ones weren't everywhere, but every good-looking spot you could pull up and get a bite. There aren't many fisheries like this."

Notable

> Day 4 stats 10 anglers, 10 limits.

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Micah Frazier -- Newnan, GA -- 20, 87-04 -- 100 -- $100,000
Day 1: 5, 20-11 -- Day 2: 5, 20-10 -- Day 3: 5, 20-06 -- Day 4: 5, 25-09

2. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, ON -- 20 -- 86-06 -- 99 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 24-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-13 -- Day 3: 5, 19-01 -- Day 4: 5, 20-01

3. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, AL -- 20, 84-08 -- 98 -- $21,000
Day 1: 5, 23-08 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10 -- Day 3: 5, 20-01 -- Day 4: 5, 21-05

4. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 20, 84-04 -- 97 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 21-05 -- Day 2: 5, 22-09 -- Day 3: 5, 18-08 -- Day 4: 5, 21-14

5. Jay Yelas -- Lincoln City, OR -- 20, 83-01 -- 96 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 20-10 -- Day 2: 5, 19-07 -- Day 3: 5, 23-15 -- Day 4: 5, 19-01

6. Steve Kennedy -- Auburn, AL -- 20, 82-05 -- 95 -- $16,500
Day 1: 5, 23-07 -- Day 2: 5, 22-14 -- Day 3: 5, 15-12 -- Day 4: 5, 20-04

7. Ray Hanselman Jr -- Del Rio, TX -- 20, 81-12 -- 94 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 22-10 -- Day 2: 5, 22-00 -- Day 3: 5, 19-06 -- Day 4: 5, 17-12

8. Greg DiPalma -- Millville, NJ -- 20, 81-11 -- 93 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 23-06 -- Day 2: 5, 21-11 -- Day 3: 5, 19-00 -- Day 4: 5, 17-10

9. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 20, 78-04 -- 92 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 19-12 -- Day 2: 5, 22-07 -- Day 3: 5, 23-12 -- Day 4: 5, 12-05

10. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 20, 74-06 -- 91 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 22-01 -- Day 2: 5, 22-06 -- Day 3: 5, 17-15 -- Day 4: 5, 12-00

Big Bass

> Steve Kennedy -- 6-02 (Day 1) -- $1,500