Monday, August 14, 2023

Brent Anderson Wins 2023 MLF Toyota Series on St. Lawrence River!

Canadian Gary Miller 2nd!

Since making the St. Lawrence River his summertime home, Brent Anderson has passionately chased a title on the fishery. Photo by Charles Waldorf.
By Jody White

MLF Fishing

MASSENA, N.Y. – Since making upstate New York his summertime home, Brent Anderson has craved a win on his adopted waters of the St. Lawrence River. He finally pulled it off Saturday by tallying 66 pounds, 11 ounces to come out on top of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Northern Division event and earn his 11th win with FLW/MLF. Weighing just over 22 pounds each day, Anderson won by less than a pound, and he’ll take home a crisp $80,500 (including a $35,000 Phoenix Bonus) for his efforts.

Dropping from the lead into second, Gary Miller totaled 66-1, and Spencer Shuffield finished third with 65-9. Overall, the event was characterized by some big single-day performances, but consistency won out, with most of the Top 10 staying very steady throughout.

This win is a long time coming for Anderson

A 10-time winner at the Phoenix Bass Fishing League level, Anderson has seen a lot of success in tournament fishing but hadn’t sealed the deal in a major event. Now, after a few close calls, he has convincingly outlasted the competition on a river he might be more fond of than the Tennessee.

“This is a big deal for me, it means the world to me,” Anderson said. “I’m really content. I’m not in it for the glory, I don’t like the risk that fishing the next level could put me back in the office. I’ll try to continue to do 100 guide trips a year if the tournaments are going good – I’ll try to squeeze in another 100 if they aren’t. Just spending time on places I really enjoy; once I fall in love with a place, I want to learn it as much as I can.”

Top 10 pros Below

Emotional on stage, it was easy to see that Anderson was surprised by the win, perhaps a little scarred by his recent near misses.

“I got a little shook up, I was very shocked,” he said. “I didn’t think there was any chance when I was running back today. Now I can breathe. That’s all I wanted was one (win). I don’t care if I never cash another check here. That’s all I wanted was one – I didn’t care if it was an Open, I didn’t care if it was a Toyota, I didn’t care if it was a BFL. I wanted to win here.

“That’s my 10th win. Three of them stand out as very special: My first, Dale Hollow and this one,” Anderson continued. “Sometimes you just go to a place and get a feeling it’s really special, and you have a bond with it, and to complete that you have to get a win. For some reason, I have that feeling here. You can look at my stats and see I’ve been close a few times and botched it on the last day. To get it done is amazing.”

River mastery finally proves out

Since adopting the St. Lawrence, Anderson has proved to be one of the best (perhaps the best) in the actual river. Not making long runs west toward the 1000 Islands, Anderson’s favored haunts run from Chippewa Bay to Massena, and that has proved very successful but sometimes very frustrating.

“I probably average 21 pounds a day in the tournament days I’ve fished here,” Anderson said. “It’s risky as far as sealing the deal, because there are so many big fish out west, but it’s safer. One reason I’ve stumbled on the final days is that I’m so far behind from catching those 20-pound bags, I have to swing for the fence on the last day, and it’s hard to do. Especially on a short day, especially when you need to weed through 30 or 40 fish to get a big bite.”

A confirmed drifter, Anderson’s most reliable technique is to point the bow up current and slip back, dragging a jig. This week, he fished mostly between Ontario’s Mallorytown and Brockville but hit places all the way back to Ogdensburg, New York. Each day, Anderson had to figure out a slightly different pattern.

“I was all over the place. I caught a 4-10 today in 9 feet — just different areas, different depths,” he said. “The whole thing I do, it’s patternable, but you have to look up. The big ones might be on the front of stuff one day, on top one day and behind the next.

“Out deep this morning, I wasn’t trying to catch big ones; I was trying to catch 20 pounds. But, I caught the 6-6 on Day 1 in like 22, on the side of a little hump. When you’re in a good area, a long stretch, with ups and downs, you’ll catch one in 40, then on the top in 13 and then at the back in 30. On one of those drifts, if I’m catching 3 pounders in 40, and then a 5 on top, I’ll start focusing on the tops.

“Basically, I try to get around a lot of fish, drift it, get an idea what sizes are doing what. Then hone in on that specific depth – and it’s been absolutely different every day.”

Anderson said his shortest drifts might take a minute, with his longest going as much as half a mile. Typically, his long drifts are meant to put quality keepers in the boat, and the shorter ones are precisely targeted at potential kickers.

“Pre-tournament, I talked about how they were getting on a lot of featureless places,” he said. “Typically, they are up more on the shallower areas where there’s a lot of contour change. I just kept moving out on areas where I knew they lived, and ended up finding the bigger schools on really featureless bottom. If I could get five out there I would start running, a boulder here, a point there, 1-minute drifts to catch a big one.”

One special jig did the damage

A prototype ¼-ounce GOBY 1 jig with a Z-Man Finesse TRD did the heavy lifting for Anderson this week. He fished it on a Redemption Rods Ned rod, with a Lew’s Custom Lite Series spinning reel spooled up with 10-pound Seaguar Smackdown and an 8-pound Seaguar InvizX leader. Anderson’s jig has been super key for him in recent years, and it’s been the result of his obsession with the St. Lawrence.

“I knew most everybody drop-shotted, so I wanted something different,” he said of the early days. “I watched a lot of video of a goby underwater, and realized they don’t do much. So, obviously the Ned is the next choice. Then I started looking at how a goby has a big head and a skinny tail.”

Next up was an actual finesse jig.

“I originally started with a Keitech football head, and it worked great, but you break off a lot and they’re about 8 bucks apiece,” he said. “Then I found the Z-Man ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig, and they like it just fine, but they get hung more because it isn’t a football head. So, I decided to make my own. It’s basically a ¼-ounce football jig with a good hook and a good keeper for a Z-Man type trailer.”

Anderson believes something about the entire package appeals to the smarter class of St. Lawrence smallies, and the stats prove him right.

“I’ve watched these fish for hours and hours on ActiveTarget and how they react to baits, and I may have had a client or two drop a live goby down before,” he said. “Here, more than anywhere else, I’m 150% trying to imitate a goby as natural as possible. The 2-pounders will eat anything, the 3-pounders will eat anything, but a big one will track your bait, sometimes a quarter or half a mile, almost like they’re waiting for that bait to prove itself fake or real. I feel like that’s just the closest presentation I can get, the jig and TRD.”

It’s worked really well lately, and now drifting a jig has finally paid off with a long-sought trophy for Anderson.

Top 10 pros

1. Brent Anderson – 66 – 11 (15) – $80,500 (includes $35,000 Phoenix Bonus)

2. Gary Miller – 66 – 1 (15) – $17,500

3. Spencer Shuffield – 65 – 9 (15) – $12,750

4. Tommy Dickerson – 65 – 1 (15) – $10,750

5. Brett Carnright – 65 – 0 (15) – $9,750

6. Clay Reece – 63 – 2 (15) – $8,375

7. Alec Morrison – 62 – 5 (15) – $7,300

8. Douglas Reed – 62 – 3 (15) – $6,300

9. Kyle Cortiana – 61 – 15 (15) – $5,300

10. Jason Gramada – 61 – 12 (15) – $4,200

No comments:

Post a Comment