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Leonard snares co-angler crown on the Potomac

Leonard snares co-angler crown on the Potomac
Cory Leonard of Castalia, N.C., proudly displays his first-place check and trophy after winning the FLW Tour co-angler tournament title on the Potomac River.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Cory Leonard of Castalia, N.C., experienced a dream come true this week. Not only did he get to fish side by side with some of the greatest pros in the nation (Michael Iaconelli, Aaron Martens and Justin Lucas), but he also walked away with a nice parting gift as well - an FLW Tour title in the biggest fishing event of his young career.

"I'm just speechless right now," said Leonard, who recorded a three-day catch of 37 pounds, 11 ounces to capture victory as well as a first-place check of $20,000. "It's awesome. I've been waiting for this for a long time. It's the biggest win of my career."

Leonard said that in retrospect, he couldn't have scripted a better outcome after winning the tournament by less than half a pound.

"Everything just started off right," said Leonard. "On the first day I drew a great partner and it only got better from there. I got to fish with Justin Lucas, Aaron Martens and Iaconelli. What more could you ask for? But for me, the real turning point was day two."

On the second day of competition, Leonard was languishing on the water with only one fish in the boat and time dwindling down.

Co-angler Cory Leonard of Castalia, N.C., shows off his winning catch at the FLW Tour event on the Potomac River."My partner that day, Aaron Martens, pulled up into an area and said, "Here you go.'" said Leonard. "It was 12:45 p.m. and I only had about 45 more minutes to fish. I wound up catching four nice fish in that one area. And that was the turning point of the whole tournament for me."

Leonard said that he targeted largemouth bass adhering to grass pockets with an Ultra Vibe Speed Worm on a ¼-ounce weight.

"The key for me was finding sparse grass, the right water clarity and a hard bottom," he said. "Once I found that, I knew I'd be able to catch fish. I pretty much keyed in on that pattern the first day."

Overall, Leonard said he couldn't have been happier with the end result.

"I'm still at a loss for words right now," he said. "It's just been a great experience."

Schneider nets second

Co-angler James Schneider of Watervliet, N.Y., took home second place overall at the FLW Tour event on the Potomac River.James Schneider's rollercoaster ride on the Potomac River continued once again in today's competition. After finishing day one in first place overall, Schneider fell to 10th heading into the finals. But thanks to a 14-pound, 14-ounce catch in today's competition - the largest co-angler sack of the day - Schneider vaulted all the way back up the leaderboard into second place overall. And had he managed just another 7 ounces, he would have won the tournament outright.

"It's great. I have nothing to complain about," said Schneider, who finished the event with a three-day total of 37 pounds, 5 ounces. "I got to fish with a lot of great people and I had a lot of fun. I just love fishing these FLW tournaments."

Schneider said that he targeted largemouth bass holding to both grass and wood with a combination of Li'l Hustler jigs and spinnerbaits.

"I basically fished main-river flats looking for any type of grass or wood," he said. "Today was just a great day. We probably caught 60 keepers today and I caught about 20 of them."

Schneider, who walked away with $7,500 in winnings, said the week was near perfect.

"I came into this tournament hoping to see some nice weather and to catch a respectable limit of fish," he said. "But make the top 10, finish in second place and almost win the title, that's just a huge bonus."

Banks finishes third

Bolstered by a three-day catch of 35 pounds, 14 ounces, Mark Banks of East Aurora, N.Y., completed his Potomac River tournament run in third place overall.Bolstered by a three-day catch of 35 pounds, 14 ounces, Mark Banks of East Aurora, N.Y., completed his Potomac River tournament run in third place overall.

"It was a great week," said Banks, who walked away with a check for $5,000. "I honestly couldn't have asked for a better week."

Banks said his big break came with approximately 20 minutes remaining in the tournament.

"This week you really had to grind it out," he said. "I was catching a lot of fish but a lot of those were short. So you really had to weed through the small ones to get a few big bites. At the end of the day today there wasn't a whole bunch of time left, maybe 20 minutes, and that's when I got my big fish. And that helped out a lot."

Banks said he used a combination of swim jigs and Sweet Beaver baits to land the majority of his catch.

"I was flipping to thicker grass patches and when I found scattered grass I threw the jig," said Banks.

In the end, Banks was not only pleased with finish, but he was also pretty psyched about his own personal development as well.

"I was really happy with my mental game this week. I think I've finally gotten to a new level of fishing," he said. "On the Potomac, you really had to have a lot of patience. And that was the biggest thing I was trying to work on. And now I feel like I finally might be where I need to be."

Best of the rest

Co-angler David Williams of Fredericksburg, Va., used a 35-pouind, 8-ounce catch to finish the FLW Tour event on the Potomac iin fourth place. For his efforts, Williams took home a check for $4,000.David Williams of Fredericksburg, Va., used a 35-pouind, 8-ounce catch to finish the event in fourth place. For his efforts, Williams took home a check for $4,000.

Matt Stoupa of Colonial Heights, Va., finished in fifth place overall with a total catch of 35 pounds, 1 ounce. Stoupa won $3,000 in prize money.

For the rest of today's co-angler standings, click here.

FLW Tour co-angler tournament action resumes June 16-19 on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky.

Tags: gary-mortenson  co-angler-headline  2011-06-02-potomac-river 

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