UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

It’s showtime on the Potomac

With the omnipresent colossal statue entitled, The Awakening, looming over National Harbor marina, FLW Tour pros await the start of opening takeoff on the Potomac River.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Under the backdrop of bright blue skies, moderate temps and generally calm conditions, 153 FLW Tour pros and co-anglers departed the majestic National Harbor marina for the open waters of the Potomac River looking for those few big bites that will begin to separate them from the rest of the field.

Although fish catches should be plentiful and most should return to weigh-in with a five-fish limit, anglers who are able to uncover the relatively elusive 3- to 5-pound largemouth bass will have a crucial head start during the second FLW Tour Open of the 2011 season.

"It's a very prolific fishery. But catching 3-pound-plus fish is going to be key," said Chevy pro Jay Yelas of Corvallis, Ore. "The Potomac River is definitely a neat place to fish. There is tons of fishable water now but that wasn't always the case. Years ago the river was so polluted that the fishing wasn't very good. But it's really gotten a lot better. For me, the Potomac River will always be a special place because it was the site of my very first professional victory back in 1993."

As the sun drifts over the horizon, boaters prepare for the first day of FLW Tour Open competition on the Potomac River.While there are many variables that anglers will have to contend with this week, tides undoubtedly will play a definitive role in the outcome. And Yelas argued that anglers who don't capitalize on the ebb and flow of this tidal fishery will do so at their own peril.

"The Potomac River is all about tides," said Yelas. "With the water levels rising and falling anywhere from 1 to 2 feet each day, the fish will be in completely different areas as the tides shift from low to high. Today the low tide will be around 9 a.m. and high tide will be about 3 p.m. But while this will definitely be a shallow-water tournament with a big focus on grass and milfoil, depending on the tides, you'll have to fish the Potomac differently throughout the day."

How so?

"During high tide the fish will be moving around a lot more so moving baits like topwaters, spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits will be a lot more effective," said Yelas. "When low tide hits, the fish tend to school up and pull to deeper cover. That when you'll see the flipping bite come into play. Flipping to grass mats and cranking deeper rock piles are some of the techniques you can use during this period. But from my experience, the best times to fish are two hours before and after low tide. Unfortunately this week the tide schedule isn't the best and we're going to miss a lot of the good fishing time before low tide. But then again, everyone is in the same boat so it evens out."

Yelas said that largemouth bass should make up "about 99 percent" of all catches, although some anglers will record a stray smallmouth from time to time. In addition, most anglers appear to be targeting water south of National Harbor marina.

FLW Tour anglers patiently await the start of takeoff on the Potomac River."That's because we're at the northern end of most of the good fishing areas," said Yelas. "You'll probably see a bunch of guys running 50 or 60 miles to the south of us."

And while the fish catches on the Potomac won't resemble the behemoth stringers usually caught at other FLW Outdoors venues such as Lake Guntersville, Sam Rayburn, Falcon Lake and the California Delta, anglers should be able to net plenty of fish over the four-day event spanning from June 2-5.

"The anglers are going to love this place because it's relatively easy fishing," said Yelas. "Your going to see a lot of limits caught. And I think if you can catch 14 pounds a day you should be able to make the top-20 cut. I think it will probably take about 60 to 65 pounds (over four days) to win the tournament. But again, big bites are going to be key. On the Potomac, any stringer over 15 pounds is a good day. So it you can catch a 5- or a 6-pounder, you're going to be in really good shape."

Tourney format

During FLW Tour competition, pros supply the boats, fish from the front deck against other pros and control boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck and compete against other co-anglers. Anglers are permitted to weigh in their best five bass each day. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points that determine angler standings. The full field competes on days one and two. After Friday's day-two weigh-in, both the co-angler and pro fields will be cut to the top 20. On day three, the co-angler champion will be crowned based on the field's three-day accumulated weight. Also on Saturday, the pro field will be cut down to the top 10 pros. The remaining pro field will then compete during Sunday's final round of tournament action. The pro winner ultimately will be determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

A giant hand from The Awakening frames National Harbor marina during takeoff. The statue, created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. and originally installed at Hains Point in Washington, D.C. in 1980, was moved to the National Harbor in 2007 after the artist sold the statue for $750,000.Anglers will take off from National Harbor Marine, located at 137 National Plaza in National Harbor at 6:30 each morning. Weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

Pros will fish for a top award of $125,000 and co-anglers will cast for a first-place prize of $25,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.

Bass-fishing fans take note

Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern Time to watch live streaming video and audio of today's opening-round weigh in.

Daily on-the-water coverage will also be available online at FLWOutdoors.com. To see up-to-the-minute tournament updates, click here.

Anglers prepare for the opening round of FLW Tour competition on the Potomac.Fans will also be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the National Harbor Marina, located at 137 National Harbor Plaza in National Harbor, Md., on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In addition, during this week's FLW Tour competition on the Potomac, anglers will be vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing.

Coverage of the Potomac River tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. "FLW Outdoors" will air Aug. 7 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. "FLW Outdoors," hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to more than 500 million households worldwide.

Day-one takeoff on the Potomac River is only moments away.Vital statistics:

Sunrise: 5:45 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 75 degrees
Expected high temperature: 82 degrees
Water temperature: 76-80 degrees
Wind: From the west-northwest at 10 to 18 mph
Humidity: 40 percent
Day's outlook: Sunny

Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2011-06-02-potomac-river 

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