June 21, 2014 by David A. Brown
MARBURY, Md. - Persistence and perseverance paid off for William Kemp, as the pro from Scotland Neck, N.C., turned in a strong final-round performance and won the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on the Potomac River.
After leading day one with the 19 pounds, 2 ounces - the event's heaviest sack - Kemp slipped to fifth on the second day with a small limit of 10-9. On the last day, he stormed back with 15-14 and closed the deal with a tournament total of 45-9 and a winning margin of 1-4.
"This has been an unbelievable week," Kemp says of the roller coaster ride he took to victory. "This week was all over the map."
As he recalled, Kemp saw the Potomac's potential, but also the river's stinginess.
"On day one when I had that 19-2, I had seven keeper bites," he says. "Yesterday [Friday was a real struggle; I only had four fish at 1 o'clock. I came back into Mattawoman Creek [near the tournament site] and caught a 12-incher and I was pretty excited.
"Saturday I started out by catching about 30 fish on a topwater. I ran back down to where I had caught the bigger fish (on day one) and culled once or twice. I had maybe 11 1/2 pounds with an hour to go and stopped on a spot and caught a 5- and a 3-pounder. It was definitely a blessed day."
Flipping a Zoom Brush Hog produced most of Kemp's fish on days one and two. In the final round, he caught them on a black/blue swim jig with a blue Netbait Paca Craw trailer and a Rico Popper.
Displaying what appeared to be a weathered and aged topwater bait, Kemp says: "This was a new bait, but I think we can retire this one."
Kemp's 6-pound, 10-ounce largemouth earned Big Fish honors on day one for the pro side. The fish stood as the largest of his division and second-largest overall (behind co-angler Jeremy Ives' 7-7 on day one).
Aquia Creek south of the tournament site held Kemp's primary spot for the week. He also fished Occoquan to the north.
Wilder winds up second
Gregory Wilder, of Brooklyn Park, Md. started off by catching the event's third-largest limit and placing second to Kemp on day one. He took over the lead on day two by adding 15-3, but slipped back to his finishing spot of second in the final round when challenging conditions yielded only 11-14 for a total of 44-5.
"It was tougher today and I really had to grind with the Senkos," he says.
Wilder thinks a change in weather, complicated by increased fishing pressure may have curtailed his final-round bite. Day one brought partly sunny conditions with even more sunlight the second day. Clouds covered the sky for all of day three.
"I don't know if the sun made them eat a little better (on days one and two)," he says. "The cloud cover today seemed to slow the bite down and there were more boats in the area today; more traffic in the area."
The key to pulling together a day-three limit, he notes, was calming down and slowing down.
Fishing south in the main river, Wilder caught his fish around grass in 3-4 feet. Wacky-rigged Senkos in the watermelon color produced all of his fish.
Baumgardner rises to third
Walmart FLW Tour Pro Chris Baumgardner, of Gastonia, N.C., got a nice warm-up for next week's Tour finale at Kentucky Lake by earning third place on the Potomac with 44-4.
Baumgardner opened the event in fifth place, but slipped to ninth on day two. He made up lost ground and a little more in the final round by catching the day's heaviest limit - 16-6.
During the morning's outgoing tide, Baumgardner caught his fish on a frog in scattered grass. He also caught fish on a ChatterBait and by flipping a jig.
Lefebre finishes fourth
Kellogg's Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre reached the final round by making a big day-two move from 43rd place to seventh. On day three, he gained three more spots to finish fourth with 43-15.
The Tour pro from Erie, Pa., caught some of his fish by flipping a jig, but he did most of his damage with Terminator vibrating jigs - a white one that produced on days one and two and a green pumpkin that did the job on day three. Most important, he said, was the right hook.
"The fish swim right at you at 100 mph and sometimes you don't get the best hookset," he says. "So you want that light wire, but you want it to be strong enough when you get one of those 5-pounders."
Lefebre improved his catch ratio by stepping up to a longer rod that enabled him to get a quicker hook set and helped him keep up with hard-charging fish.
Hall takes fifth
Michael Hall, of Annandale, Va., tied Lefebre for the 43rd spot on day one and then raced up the standings on day two by catching 17-15 - the tournament's second-heaviest bag - and securing his final-round berth in third place. On day three, Hall yielded two spots and ended in fifth with 42-6.
Hall, who won the Potomac event in 2005, caught his fish on wacky-rigged Senkos.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the Rayovac FLW Series Cal Delta event:
6th: Chris Novack, of Mansfield Center, Ct., 42-3
7th: Otis Darnell, of Linden, Va., 41-10
8th: Robert Grike, of Dumfries, Va., 41-9
9th: Mike Hicks, of Goochland, Va., 40-3
10th: Mike Snider, of Mr. Airy, Md., 36-10