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St. Lawrence River Smallmouth Send Sands to Bassmaster Classic

Cole Sands reeling in a smallmouth bass on the St. Lawrence River.

Going into the last Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season, I knew I needed to have a good event to make it into the Bassmaster Classic next spring.

Our practice time was shortened to only two days because one of the tournament days was canceled the week before at Lake Champlain. Having no experience on the St. Lawrence River, I spent all of my practice time close to the boat ramp. I ended up finding about a two-mile stretch that seemed to hold a little bit better size than the rest of the river.

The area that I found ended up producing three good days of smallmouth fishing with limits weighing 22 lb 10 oz, 21 lb 2 oz, and 19 lb 13 oz. I was around a lot of fish, but they were tough to get to bite. I would catch one smallmouth every 30 or 40 times I threw at it.

I kept it very simple with bait selection by using a 4-inch soft plastic worm on a drop shot with a quarter, half, and three–quarter-ounce weight. The various weight sizes were used depending on the depth of water I was fishing in, as some spots were in 12 feet of water while others were as deep as 60 feet.

Cole Sands holding up smallmouth bass from the St. Lawrence River.For each drop shot setup, I used a 7’2″ Medium Light Shaman or Voodoo II series Witch Doctor Tackle Spinning Rod, with a 10-pound braid to a 6-pound Yo-Zuri Superfluro fluorocarbon leader.

I ended up finishing the event in 36th place which was just good enough to earn a spot into the 2024 Bassmaster Classic!!

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