South Dakota angler Monty Fralick took an unexpected swim in Lake Francis Case 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.”
When he stayed 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 small mouth bass that yielded the heaviest limit of the tournament (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, father of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jami Fralick. “A lot of times those small mouth would stack on there if there was a little bit of weeds. So, the key spots were the humps with a little bit of weeds on them.”
However, today, Fralick got only one bite on the humps. “So then I immediately went into scramble mode and caught the fish today,” 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 Lucky Craft 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, Wisconsin.
Team championship honors went to the Minnesota squad with 134 pounds, 7 ounces. The host South Dakota squad finished second with 120-14.
The Carhartt Big Bass Award of $500 was presented to Chuck Steinbauer for bringing in a 3 pound, 8 ounce bass.
The Livingston Lures award of $250 was presented to the winner, Monty Fralick.
Image courtesy B.A.S.S.