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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Capital clash commences

FLW Tour anglers prepare for the start of opening-round action on the Potomac River.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Amidst a backdrop of sunny skies, moderate winds and the impressive monoliths of the nation's capital, the full field of Walmart FLW Tour pros departed National Harbor Marina shortly after 6:30 a.m. to kick off the start of the Potomac River battle.

While the majority of this year's FLW Tour Major schedule will take place on wide variety of lakes spanning from South Carolina to Missouri to upstate New York, this week's event will test the river-fishing skills of the nation's top pros like no other.

As the fourth largest river along the Atlantic Coast, the Potomac is approximately 405 miles long and represents the 21st largest river in country. Steeped in plenty of history, the Potomac River forms part of the borders between Washington, D.C., and Virginia on the left bank and Maryland and Virginia on the river's right descending bank.

However, for FLW Tour anglers, the Potomac River represents a chance to make their own history.

"This is one of the best tidal fisheries in the nation," said Chevy pro Jay Yelas. "There are just tons of fish in this river."

Takeoff about to commence on the Potomac River.While there is plenty of prime fishing areas of the river to fish, anglers will almost certainly congregate along the various stretches that house abundant grass and vegetation.

"During this time of year, the key is finding vegetation because that's where the water will be the clearest," said Yelas. "On the Potomac you'll find hydrilla, milfoil, eel grass, shrimp grass and lily pads and that's where you're going to find a lot of the (field). The vegetation is what the fish spawn around so it's going to be a big factor this time of year. And I think because of that you're going to see a lot of communal fishing holes."

As a result, anglers will most likely target the Potomac and its vegetation with a combination of soft platics, jigs and shallow-running crankbaits.

"You might see some people throwing ChatterBaits and the occasional topwater, but I think this tournament is probably going to be won fishing jigs and soft plastics," said Yelas. "And I think you're probably going to need 15 pounds a day to make the cut and around 18 or 19 pounds to win it. It should be roughly on par with last year - maybe a little less. But overall, it's shaping up to be a great tournament in the nation's capital."

As far as strategy is concerned, anglers will have to have at least a working knowledge of the tides in order to maximize their output.

"There are two ways to approach a tidal fishery," said Yelas. "You can find a good spot and camp on it all day or try to be more aggressive, run down the river and try to time the tides along the way to optimize your big-fish catch. It'll be interesting for sure. But if there is one thing about fishing, whether it's on a river or not, it is that there are no absolutes."

Tourney format

FLW Tour boaters carefully navigate National Harbor Marina before takeoff.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.

The tournament will feature a full field featuring top awards of up to $125,000 in the Pro Division and up to $25,000 in the Co-angler Division.

FLW Tour competitors will also be vying for valuable standings points in an effort to qualify for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. This year's Cup will be in Duluth/Gainesville, Ga., Aug. 9-12 on Lake Lanier and anglers could win as much as $500,000 - the sport's biggest award. Anglers are also vying for the prestigious 2012 Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title that will be determined by the most points accumulated over the six FLW Tour Majors.

Tourney and Expo event logistics

FLW Tour anglers prepare to go through boat check before the start of day-one competition on the Potomac River.Anglers will take off from National Harbor Marina located at 168 National Harbor Plaza in National Harbor, Md., at 6:30 a.m. each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will be held at National Harbor Marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at National Harbor Marina beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at National Harbor Marina 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 fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. On Sunday one fishing fan will win a $500 Walmart gift card. The gift card giveaway is free to enter but the winner must be present at the conclusion of Sunday's final weigh-in to win.

As part of the FLW Tour's community outreach initiative, FLW will be working in conjunction with Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, Pepco and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to host the fifth annual Nation's River Bass Tournament, which will feature more than 300 local students. The tournament provides underserved youth with a hands-on fishing and boating experience to increase their exposure to and appreciation for our nation's natural resources. The tournament and associated activities will be May 18 from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. at the piers at National Harbor. The Nation's River Bass Tournament weigh-in will be held on the FLW Tour stage at 11 a.m.

Coverage of the Potomac River tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs June 24 from 1 - 2 p.m. ET. "FLW" is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide.

Bass-fishing fans take note

National Harbor Marina offers up an impressive backdrop to this week's FLW Tour contest on the Potomac River.Want to watch the weigh in live but can't make it in person? Then tune into FLW Live on FLWOutdoors.com shortly before 2:30 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.

Vital statistics:

Sunrise: 5:54 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 63 degrees
Expected high temperature: 74 degrees
Water temperature: 69-73 degrees
Wind: From the north-northeast at 14-17 mph
Humidity: 40 percent
Tidal chart: High tide (6:43 a.m.); Low tide (1:18 p.m.)
Day's outlook: Mostly sunny with some cloud cover

Tags: gary-mortenson  morning-story  2012-05-17-potomac-river 

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