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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Dobson Sticks With Jerkbait for Win

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Johnston Targets Beds for Big Limit

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Football Jig Helps Bates Net Title

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Hipsher Hops Ledges for Victory

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Lauer Wins on Ohio River

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Creature Bait Does it for Berhorst

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Wendlandt Back at the Top

It’s been 14 seasons since Clark Wendlandt last stood on a Walmart FLW Tour stage and hoisted a tournament championship trophy. Since that time, the Texas pro has experienced ups and downs, including an Angler of the Year title (his third) in 2009 and a major medical issue that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season. All that’s in the past now, however, and Wendlandt is right back where he belongs in the world of bass fishing – in first place after the final day on the Potomac River in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

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Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

Clark Wendlandt didn’t pull off any secret techniques to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. He simply found an area with the right quality of bass to win and managed it perfectly despite facing a medley of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges. The rest of the top 10 stuck with the standard Potomac targets too, namely grass, docks and wood cover. The only underlying trend of the top 10 is that they found areas to themselves. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done at the 2015 Tour finale. READ MORE »

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Potomac River Day 4 Coverage

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Wendlandt Receives Helping Hand

Not to discredit Clark Wendlandt’s skills as a bass fisherman, but if it wasn’t for an extreme act of kindness on the part of fellow competitor Shin Fukae, Wendlandt wouldn’t be where he is this evening – leading through three days of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. READ MORE »

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Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 3

Pouring rain, gusting winds, a remarkable act of kindness, an Angler of the Year title on the line – day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River certainly was not boring. To say the top 20 anglers were waterlogged after Saturday would be any understatement, but as nasty as the weather was, it wasn’t the biggest story of the day. Shinichi Fukae generously helped Clark Wendlandt retain his lead, while Scott Martin sealed the deal on his first AOY title. Meanwhile, a number of other anglers scrambled to adjust with what the weather and the Potomac are throwing at them. Here’s how the rest of the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

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Potomac River Day 3 Coverage

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Wendlandt in Familiar Territory

A lot of flip-flopping took place on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. When the scale closed, it was three-time Tour Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt who found himself on top with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 10 ounces. Wendlandt caught 17-13 today – the day’s second-heaviest limit – and leads Potomac local Bryan Schmitt by 1-12 going into the weekend. Wendlandt missed part of last season after suffering a heart attack but has rebounded with good success this season. He has won three times on Tour but hasn’t finished in first place since Beaver Lake in 2001. Details to come on the patterns of the top five. READ MORE »

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Potomac River Day 2 Coverage

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Jersey Boy Leads the Pack

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Top 5 Patterns from Potomac River Day 1

It might seem impossible for 405 miles of water to fish small, but space was hard to come by on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The creeks near takeoff at Smallwood State Park have seen as much traffic as a Washington, D.C. highway at rush hour. On the flip side, anglers who were able to develop patterns that got them away from the crowds, such as day-one leader Adrian Avena, have been able to reap the benefits of what has been a stingy fishery. Here’s how the rest of the pros in the top five caught their fish today. READ MORE »

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AOY Shake-Up: Martin Makes His Move

Scott Martin has been talking about winning the Angler of the Year title since before the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season started. It’s on his mind and for good reason: Angler of the Year is the only major FLW title he hasn’t won in what Martin has built into one of the most decorated professional fishing careers in FLW Tour history. Today, on the first day of competition at the Tour finale on the Potomac River, Martin has unofficially moved into the lead in the AOY race for the first time all season. READ MORE »

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Potomac River Day 1 Coverage

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Richardson Wins All-American

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All-American Midday Update Day 3

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