Pro Fishing: Newnan 23-year-old Micah Frazier reaches $500,000 championship event
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Baseball players often imitate themselves in the World Series while rising football stars imagine themselves holding a Super Bowl trophy.
By the time Micah Frazier left his teens, though, competing in the Forrest Wood Cup became the virtual dream dangling on the end of his fishing line.
And this time, the 23-year-old Newnan native finds himself in the mix for the big prize.
Frazier qualified among the tour’s top 46 anglers vying for a top award of $500,000 while competing as a professional at the event for the first time. With his three-year professional earnings closing in on $100,000 it’s a chance for one of the sport’s youngest faces to continue to build his reputation, as well as his name, among it’s biggest stars.
During his short career, Frazier already has 11 top-10 FLW finishes after making his way up the ranks starting with a victory in a Bass Fishing League event at 16 years old, the youngest BFL winner in history.
His steady progress continued in both the Stren and FLW series before eventually earning his way onto the FLW Tour. All totaled, his career earnings since his first major prize of $ 4,000 at West Point Lake in 2005 now sit at more than $162,000.
None of his previous events may compare, however, to next week’s setting at Lake Lanier where the total prize money is well over $1 million. He is guaranteed at least $10,000, given to 31st through 46th place.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments around ... it’s the biggest that I’ll have competed in so far,” said Frazier of next week’s event beginning Thursday and continuing through Sunday where he will be one of just two native Georgians in the field. “I’ve thought about getting to this moment for a long time. It means everything.”
Frazier competed in the Wood Cup’s co-angler division in the 2010 tournament — also held at Lake Lanier — following his first season in the FLW Tour Majors Division. He reached professional status a year later and finished with a No. 44 ranking while unable to qualify for the Forrest Wood.
The breakthrough, however, came this season, beginning with a second-place finish and a $35,000 payday in his opener at Lake Hartwell on March 8.
“It was a huge boost of confidence,” he said of the opener. “I had done ok in the past. But this year everything is in its place. I’ve grown a lot in my Faith. It’s hard to explain. Before I used to wonder if I could even make it out here. I don’t worry any more. If I do good, I do good. If I do bad, I do bad. I just take it day by day.”
Despite stumbling his next time out during a trip to Missouri, he relied on his faith, more than his fishing to stay focused on qualifying for next week’s championship. He finished no worse than 56th position in his last four events to lock up 28th place in the points standings to secure his first professional outing at the Forrest Wood.
While baseball and fishing may be as opposite as the objects slung over players’ shoulders, hurling a 90 mph fastball toward home plate may come with as much pressure as finding an invisible opponent hiding underwater.
“It’s not an easy sport. There’s more variables, there’s so much to know and learn. Every time you go to a lake, you learn a little more. You’ve got to be careful with your decisions,” Micah said. “Sometimes the harder you try, the worse you can do.”
Frazier spent more than a week in Gainesville before an off-limits period to get the feel of his surroundings. Despite already having a huge day inside Georgia’s boundaries in March, he called Hartwell and Lanier “two totally different lakes.”
While Hartwell has a larger population of bass that tend to chase bait in open water to fight for food, the largemouth at Lanier, “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.”
Regardless of next week’s finish, Frazier’s faith in his fishing, himself and renewal in his values outside the boat, have provided a new outlook for his career.
“It’s changed a lot in the last year. I know there are bigger things out there than this, more impactful things. It’s a blessing to be out there at any level,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”