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/2015-03-28-birge-buzzes-ahead

Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-lewis-smith-lake-day-3-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 3 Coverage

Day 3 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-topwater-takes-birge-to-the-top

Topwater Takes Birge to the Top

On a day when chilly, windy post-front conditions challenged many Walmart FLW Tour anglers who were relying on sight-fishing for spawning bass, Zack Birge bucked the trend and pulled out a pair of topwaters to haul in 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Birge jumped from third place past day-one leader Drew Benton to take over the top spot on Lewis Smith Lake in the event, which is presented by Evinrude. Birge’s two-day total of 36-13 has him positioned 1 pound ahead of Benton. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-lewis-smith-lake-day-2-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day 2 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-benton-blasts-20-12-on-lewis-smith

Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-lewis-smith-lake-day-1-coverage

Lewis Smith Lake Day 1 Coverage

Day 1 reports from the Walmart FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-22-arkansas-anglers-win-college-open

Arkansas Anglers Win College Open

Consistency was the key for the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open as Zachary Pickle and Drew Porto won the event with a two-day total of 43 pounds, 12 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-kendrick-king-on-guntersville

Kendrick King On Guntersville

Kendrick, who is fishing the Rayovac FLW Series in hopes of qualifying for the FLW Tour, caught more than 25 pounds each day of the event and finihsid in fine fasion when it counted. Kendick was catching nearly all of his bass around big schools of bait with a Houdini pearl-colored Scottsboro Tackle swimbait from 15- to 25-feet of water. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-epting-s-30-pounds-tops-on-santee-cooper

Epting's 30 Pounds Tops on Santee Cooper

SUMMERTON, S.C. – Chris Epting of Chapin, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 30 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the second Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Santee Cooper. For his victory, Epting earned $3,679. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-wood-rock-key-for-middleton-s-victory

Wood, Rock Key for Middleton's Victory

HUDDLESTON, Va. – Dennis Middleton of Madison Heights, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 19 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Middleton earned $7,199. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-johnson-wins-on-dale-hollow

Johnson Wins on Dale Hollow

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Robby Johnson of Byrdstown, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Dale Hollow Lake. For his victory, Johnson earned $5,689. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-21-griffin-gets-win-on-ross-barnett

Griffin Gets Win on Ross Barnett

BRANDON, Miss. – Jason Griffin of Benton, Mississippi, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 23 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament of 2015 on Ross Barnett Reservoir. For his victory, Griffin earned $5,349. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-top-5-patterns-from-guntersville-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Guntersville Day 2

The second day of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division tournament on Lake Guntersville proved as remarkable as the first – or perhaps better, considering today’s parade of big fish included a 12-pound, 10-ounce behemoth caught by fourth-place pro Trevor Fitzgerald for the day’s Big Bass prize. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-hall-holds-steady-for-lead

Hall Holds Steady For Lead

Joe Hall of Lake City, Minn. wasn’t confident about his chances going onto the second day of competition of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Lake Guntersville. Nonetheless, he held steady with a 27-pound, 5-ounce catch that only barely fell short of the 28-1 he weighed on the first day. With a two-day total of 55 pounds, 6 ounces, Hall holds a 1-pound, 12-ounce lead over Cameron Gautney going into the final day of the Mercury presented tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-missouri-anglers-lead-college-open

Missouri Anglers Lead College Open

Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almohtadi of Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., took the lead in the opening round of the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake with 25 pounds, 2 ounces. Heading into Saturday’s second and final round, the University of Kentucky’s Ryan Collins and Hunter Fulcher sit in second place with 22-14, while Ethan Flack and Konnor Kennedy of the University of Alabama are currently third with 22-9. Details to follow. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-day-1-patterns-from-the-college-open

Day 1 Patterns from the College Open

The Northwest Missouri State University team of Andrew Nordbye and Adam Almontadi took the day-one lead in the FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake. While their pattern seems to be effectively refined – they were using only one lure and had no others out on the deck – Nordbye and Almontadi don’t have this one sewed up yet. The rest of the top five is just a few pounds behind the leaders. Here’s how they made it into contention going into the final day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-gautney-under-pressure

Gautney Under Pressure

Day two of the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event on Guntersville is just as misty and nasty as the first. Lucky for us, the first day of the Mercury-presented event featured huge catches throughout the field. READ MORE »