Potomac powerhouse

Leading wire-to-wire, Bryan Schmitt slammed the door on his Potomac win with a margin of 7 pounds, 4 ounces.

MARBURY, Md. - Weather presented two very different obstacles to Bryan Schmitt's quest for his third Potomac River title, but the pro from Deale, Md. brushed them aside with savvy solutions that delivered a decisive victory in the FLW EverStart Series Northern Division tournament on the Potomac River. First, let's get numbers. Schmitt, who also won the 2010 and 2011 events, took a slim day-one lead by catching a limit that weighed 18 pounds. He'd expand his margin to 5 pounds, 12 ounces on day two after sacking up 18-6. Today, Schmitt added 16-2 and blew the doors off this bus with a 52-8 total and a winning margin of 7-4. So now a little back story: An approaching cold snap brought thunderstorms and heavy rain on Bryan Schmitt stuck with his homemade jig throughout the tournament.Tuesday and a nippy little temperature drop on Wednesday. It's still June and while the weather never really turned "cold" per se, the water temperature dipped from the low 80's to the upper 70's a day before the event and that's all it takes to give those temperamental largemouth bass the pouty face. No worries, Schmitt simply shifted his focus to a new grass bed that he had located in practice. This deeper habitat, he said, offered refuge for fish displaced by the cold front. "I found this spot about two weeks ago and I just had a feeling about it," Schmitt said. "I hadn't gone to it for any other tournaments. I think the colder weather put them in this grass bed because it was outside a shallower grass bed. The weather pulled them out to mine." The second weather-related hindrance facing Schmitt actually reflected the weekend's stabilizing conditions. Lighter winds, mostly sunny skies and true summertime temperatures brought out the fleet of recreational pleasure boaters, which blanketed the river and kept the water churned with non-stop wakes. Sometimes, anglers call this "the nightmare." "There were a million jet skiers out today and with all the boat wakes, I was bouncing up and down on my spot," Schmitt chuckled. Aggressive jigging action was the key for Bryan Schmitt on day three.Again - he worried not. He simply adjusted his presentations to fit the conditions. The top pro had been fishing his homemade 1/2-ounce black/blue jig with a Zoom Super Chunk all week. Schmitt said he used traditional flipping and pitching tactics for days one and two, but he had to step up the show for day three's rough water. "Early in the morning, it seemed like they were biting first thing before the boats got up," he explained. "I had probably 13 pounds in the first hour but then it just died. My best tide has been in the later part of the day, but all the boats were up by then so that was the worst part of the day. "I just felt like I needed some reaction so I'd pop it, hop it just to get a bite. They didn't want the normal flipping presentation." Ultimately, Schmitt attributed his success to the 200-yard stretch of grass that he miraculously had all to himself: "I feel very blessed - I was just around the right fish." Hooker hops into second Second-place pro David Hooker made an impressive comeback after placing 37th on day one. TheTrusting his popping frog led David Hooker on a course of improvement all the way to second place. Stafford, Va. pro posted weights of 12-5, 17-10 and 15-5 to finish with a tournament total of 45-4. Hooker noted that his big day-two performance resulted from the right combination of low tide and light wind. Day one's east wind stalled the outgoing tide and Hooker had to contend with lingering high water on his key spots. With lighter winds shifting more to the north, he enjoyed normal tides that offered a traditional low-water scenario of matted grass - the kind that's ripe and ready for the popping frog he was throwing. Today's conditions offered little of Hooker's ideal scenario, but he stuck it out and ended up with a solid bag. "I made it work today," he said. "I got very few bites, but the ones I got, I got them to the boat and that's all you can ask for." Deep shakin' keeps Tibbetts in third Third-place pro  Jason Tibbetts fished a shaky head over deep structure.Jason Tibbetts of Centreville, Va., targeted fish over deep structure all week. He positioned over rocks in about 8 feet of water and dropped a 3/8-ounce shaky head with a finesse worm. The technique yielded bags of 14-2, 16-5 and 13-8 for a third-place total of 43-15. Tibbetts said that he was so dialed in on the deep game that he never considered a different pattern. The proof was in the productivity. "My thumb is super sore and it was bleeding," Tibbetts said of his high fish counts. "My co-angler today (Josh Demaury) won the event. My first-day co-angler had 15 pounds and my second-day co-angler had about 12 pounds. I ended up pulling probably (more than) 70 pounds of fish off one spot." Grike finishes fourth Robert Grike of Dumfries, Va., entered day three in fourth place and ended up in that position with aTexas-rigged stick baits were the primary tool for fourth-place Robert Grike. total weight of 43-0. After struggling in practice, Grike said his finish was a pleasant surprise. "For me to be up here in the top-10 is really a miracle," he said. "Every day, I had to find a new place to fish because nothing panned out two days in a row." Grike said he caught his day-one fish on a dropshot with a finesse worm. On day two, he couldn't get the dropshot bite going so he randomly tied on a Texas-rigged Strike King Ocho worm and caught 17-14 in about 20 minutes. Day three saw Grike catch one fish on the Ocho, two on a shaky head and two more on the dropshot. "Anyone who knows me knows I fish very neurotically," Grike said. "I'm proud of myself this week because I stayed calm. I was going crazy inside, but I kept it together." Olinger improves to fifth On day three,  Terry Olinger improved from ninth to fifth.Terry Olinger, of The Plains, Va., gained four notches on day three to finish fifth with 42-7. He caught most of his fish on finesse baits and that was quite a surprise to him. "This river is fishing a whole lot differently than normal for June," he said. "If you had told me that I was going to be doing what I did this week to catch my fish, I would have said 'no way,' because that's not my style. I like fishing the grass." Olinger said he fished hard cover early each day and then hit the grass later in the day to try and catch fish on a frog during low tide. The grass bite never materialized for him, so he made his weight by flipping the hard cover. Best of the rest Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Potomac event: 6th: Mike McDonald, of Randleman, N.C., 42-3 7th: Shayne Berlo, of Fairfax, Va., 42-0 8th: Rodney "Tank" Mosley, of Woodbridge, Va., 40-1 9th: Gilbert Gagner, of Highgate Springs, Vt., 38-7 10th: James Steiner, of Levittown, Pa., 37-6

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Morgan Maintains His Lead

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Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

Andy Morgan didn’t light up the world on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake, but he caught what he needed to maintain the lead and put a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion between he and Matt Arey. Most of the rest of the top 20 scrambled today, abandoning their patterns and trying new options to try and make the final-day cut. Here’s how the top five got it done. READ MORE »

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Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

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Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

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Make Way for Morgan

“Hidden largemouths” is quickly becoming the buzz term at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac, as those atop the leaderboard are using the term to refer to spawning largemouths that are so well hidden that other competitors never found them. These hidden fish are covered by thick brush, hidden so deep that they were only found during the very rare windows of sunshine during practice or located off the beaten path. The latter are not in obvious pockets or places where one would expect to find beds, but rather out on the main bluff channels where few ever look. On day one, Jacob Wheeler caught hidden largemouths to take the lead. On day two, former Beaver Lake champion Andy Morgan caught hidden largemouths to take over the pole position going into the weekend. His catch of 15 pounds, 7 ounces today gives Morgan a two-day total of 28-09 to take the lead by just 11 ounces. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 2

At halftime of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five reads like a who’s who of Beaver Lake. Leader Andy Morgan is a former Beaver Lake champion. Behind him, Darrel Robertson has been very close to winning here with a runner-up finish in 2005. In third is 2014 Beaver Lake champion Matt Arey. Bryan Thrift, in fourth, has never won on Beaver Lake, but has led here before. And finally, fifth-place pro Stetson Blaylock knows his way around this lake pretty well, too, with a couple of top 10s. READ MORE »

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Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

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Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

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/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

Wheeler with a Slim Lead

Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management. Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift. “Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

Though there were plenty of fish caught off beds at Beaver Lake on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five is rounded out by a group of anglers who relied on sight-fishing very little. Opinions on where exactly bass are in the spawning cycle at Beaver Lake vary greatly from angler to angler, but a few common denominators did come to light on day one. For starters, most agree that one major spawning cycle has already occurred. Plenty of empty beds and a lot of gaunt, postspawn fish at the scale were evidence of that. Second, there are still some bass (of all species) trying to spawn, but the ones left on beds are extremely wary. Finally, the order of difficulty to catch each species ranks as follows: smallmouth bass – extremely easy; spotted bass – not as easy; largemouth bass – extremely difficult. READ MORE »

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Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

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TBF Championship Tips Off

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Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

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Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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Top 10 Patterns from Lake Murray

As contestants in the FLW College Fishing National Championship on Lake Murray discovered last week, fishing the blueback herring spawn can be backbreaking work. All that stooping over to grab a different rig to cast at bass busting their favorite forage, and then quickly straightening, is hard on the old spinal column. Flexing up and down is what it took to contend in the championship, however, as bass couldn’t make up their minds whether they wanted their grub served on the surface or closer to the bottom. Typically, the collegians were fan-casting Carolina rigs, umbrella rigs, hard jerkbaits and even crankbaits to likely looking points and broad flats. Sometimes they caught fish with such random prospecting, but perhaps more bass were taken when anglers found themselves within casting distance of blowups and were quick enough to grab a soft jerkbait rig or topwater lure and virtually spoon-feed it to the fish. READ MORE »