Potomac Pressure Cooker

Morning clouds muting the Potomac sunrise bespoke a much-needed break from sweltering conditions.

MARBURY, Md. – It’s a fish-rich waterway, but the Potomac River is not likely to yield any easy fortunes for Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division competitors. FLW Tour pro Adrian Avena says the river is fishing a little behind where it should be for this time of year. This, he says, is due mainly to habitat issues. Recent harsh winters and the lingering effects of large construction projects have diminished the massive offshore grass beds that have long been the bread-and-butter of Potomac tournaments. Moreover, recent rains have turned much of the river’s upper reaches murky, while massive amountsNew Jersey pro Adrian Avena hopes to tempt big fish with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper. of floating wood and debris have littered the water and created navigational concerns. “The grass really isn’t up to par,” he notes. “In the places where there is grass there are concentrations of fish, so you just have to keep yourself around it. “We had some mud come through and the north end is really muddy. The river is going to fish small. It’s going to fish, I’d say, from Piscataway Creek south. There will be a lot of guys in the community areas such as Chickamuxen, Mattawoman, Occoquan, Aquia. There’s a bunch of fish in those areas. You just have to hunker down and hopefully catch five good ones.” Avena will throw a Zorro buzzbait early during low tide, and a frog. As the water rises, he’ll use a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper on a weighted-shank hook.  Matt Stasiak adds scented chartreuse dye to his flipping bait.Pennsylvania pro Matt Stasiak also expects tough conditions and crowded fishing. Grinding it out in high-percentage areas will be his game plan. Fortunately, for him, today’s tide schedule favors his style of fishing. The outgoing tide turned about an hour and a half after takeoff, so incoming water will comprise most of the fishing day. “If I can catch them on the incoming tide, that’s going to be 90 percent of the day,” Stasiak says. “I’ll use a mix of reaction baits and flipping baits. If you get on a school of fish that’s fired up, it’s going to happen really fast.” Prior to launch, Stasiak accented the pinchers of his craw baits with garlic-scented chartreuse dye. He’s hoping this extra attraction will coax a few more bites. A few others also shared their thoughts and strategies: Jim Dillard (West Monroe, La.): The Capri-Su pro is no fan of finesse tactics, but he recognizesFLW Tour Pro  Jim Dillard thinks he may have to go finesse to get his bites today. the potential rewards of slowing down and going light in these challenging conditions. He’ll throw a wacky-rigged 7 Fifteen Tricky Worm with a nail weight inserted about an inch above the tail. This positioning, Dillard notes, maintains the enticing tail action. Troy Garrison (Topsham, Me.): Topwater frogs have produced bites in practice, so he’ll keep one tied on today, but Garrison believes his best be will be flipping/pitching a weightless, Texas-rigged Z-man Zinkerz into gaps within the fields of spatterdock. Rick Nitkiewiecz (Pittsburgh, Pa.): A 3/8-ounce Bigmouth Penrod Special spinnerbait with a red and a chartreuse blade should get plenty of attention. Nitkiewiecz  A chatterbait will be a primary tactic for Dan Welch.Daniel Welch (New Martinsville, WV): Fishing slowly around whatever grass he can locate, Welch will remain close and fish between Mattawoman Creek and Belmont Bay. He’ll fish a mix of flipping baits and chatterbaits. Morning clouds started thinning shortly after takeoff, but the day will likely see more sky cover by the afternoon, with scattered thunderstorms possible. Dillard predicts the shading and cooling effects could stimulate more feeding activity. Logistics Anglers will take off from Smallwood State Park located at 2750 Sweden Point Road in Marbury, Md., at 6 a.m. daily. Weigh-ins will be held at the launch site beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturday’s final weigh-in will take place at 3:30 p.m. at Walmart, located at 40 Drury Drive in La Plata, Md. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or  Troy Garrison will fish a Z-man Zinker in gaps amid spatterdock fields.Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger Z117 with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. The Rayovac FLW Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship. The 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship is being held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Ala. The Rayovac FLW Series tournament on the Potomac River is being hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners and the Charles County Office of Tourism. For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.  Rick Nitkiewicz hopes his brightly colored spinnerbait will deliver a hefty limit.Thursday’s conditions: Sunrise: 5:43 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 75 degrees Expected high temperature: 90 degrees Water temperature: 67-71 degrees Wind: NW 5-10 mph Day’s outlook: Partly cloudy, scattered thunderstorms

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/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

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 »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/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

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

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Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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Lanter Wins on Rend Lake

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/news/2015-04-19-top-10-patterns-from-lake-murray

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 »

/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-college-title

Gamecocks Win College Title

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/news/2015-04-18-gamecocks-win-national-title

Gamecocks Win National Title

As any good Palmetto State bass fisherman will tell you, home lake advantage only works if you’re consistent in your catches from day to day. Anthony Gagliardi proved it here on Lake Murray last summer in the Forrest Wood Cup, and the University of South Carolina proved it again in the FLW College Fishing National Championship that concluded Saturday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-18-hallman-prevails-on-grand

Hallman Prevails On Grand

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