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


Potomac Practice with Buck

Like a lot of young pros nowadays, Grae Buck of Harleysville, Pa., started in the YETI FLW College Fishing ranks with Penn State and has since worked his way up to what is now his rookie season on the FLW Tour. It has been a tough adjustment for the 27-year-old pro transitioning from T-H Marine Bass Fishing League and College Fishing events to the big show, but now Buck has a shot to end the season strong on a body of water he has plenty of history on.

So, Buck was kind enough to let me jump in the boat and roll around the Potomac with him as he prepares for the final Tour stop of the season presented by Costa Sunglasses.


Buck wanted an early start, so we meet at the ramp at roughly 5:30 a.m. at Smallwood State Park. When I arrive, Buck was already launching the boat – which he makes quick work of despite the one-man show he is.

After he gets his rig parked we hop in and idle our way out from the ramp. As we takeoff, Buck starts a new trail on his Lowrance to help him decipher what water he hasn’t already covered and what he will fish today. He also pulls up the tide chart on his graph mounted next to the console to get a feel for where the tide is at this morning.


We make a short run across the river from Mattawoman Creek where Buck begins fishing a grass line. He cycles through a few baits, but promptly decides to pick up a wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko and almost instantly hooks up. It’s no giant, but it is a sign of life nevertheless.  

He drops the Senko and grabs a vibrating jig as he continues along the grass edge.


The vibrating jig doesn’t last long as Buck goes right back to the wacky-rigged Senko. Again, he hooks up almost as soon as the bait hits the water and it’s another future stud.

“I fished this stretch a few weeks ago before the river went off limits,” says Buck. “They were spawning pretty heavily then. I figured they’d still live here and I guess they kind of do, but they got a lot smaller.”

Buck already has a handful of rods on the deck and opts to add another one to it after seeing what the Senko has produced.


As Buck slowly works his way through the grass he grabs a frog to cover a little more water as the grass is now just thick enough to make it annoying to fish a swim jig or vibrating jig. He’s rewarded with a decent blowup on the frog and as he skis the fish along the surface realizes it isn’t quite the size he was hoping for.

It’s time to change areas, but before we leave he busts out another rod to add to the collection.


We make a move closer to the Belmont Bay area, which features a popular grass flat on the Potomac. Buck spends some time checking the grass in certain spots as well as a few old waypoints as we make some short moves on the big motor followed by brief periods of fishing.

Though it is only a little after 7 a.m., the sun is already beating down. It’s going to be hot. Buck has plenty of beverages on board and makes sure to keep a constant pace of drinking them in order to stay hydrated.


While the bite has slowed a bit, I notice that Buck is very detailed in his waypoints. From his choice of icons to naming them, he is definitely one of the more detail-oriented anglers I have seen.

“I’m probably too detailed,” Buck says about his waypoints. “It does really help me tell what the structure is I marked or even what I caught fish on from that area. Before practice started, I turned all of my old Potomac waypoints pink just so I could tell what was history and what was current.”


The tide is climbing near peak right now, so Buck makes a run to a string of docks. He grabs a drop-shot and starts flipping around the pilings and gets bit not long after doing so. Again, it isn’t big, but it sure must feel nice after a bit of a drought in the fishing.

Buck checks his line, reties and is back fishing in no time. While moving baits get a lot of attention on the Potomac, a drop-shot may also be a key player this week for some.


As he works down through the next couple of docks he hooks up again. This is a little more of what Buck was hoping to find. It’s a decent keeper and would be better is it wasn’t postspawn as Buck points out.

Buck, like most anglers, prefers fishing at low tide when the fish get congregated in certain areas, but is happy he can get some bites during high tide.


We run out of docks and Buck decides it is time to move elsewhere. Before taking off he notices a vibration in the motor and pauses to check the prop. Earlier in the day we clipped bottom while getting on plane and apparently hit it a little harder than we thought as the prop is rolled over fairly bad – thus causing the vibration. It is time for Buck to demonstrate his mechanical skills.

After digging out some tools and a new prop, Buck makes quick work of the prop and we are back in action in no time.

“This is the first time I’ve had to change a prop on the water,” laughs Buck. “It is way easier to do on land I can tell you that.”

As we idle out towards deeper water, Buck rewards his hard work with a sandwich. On top of staying hydrated, Buck makes sure to keep plenty of food on board as well. If the fish aren’t biting, having plenty of snacks is a must.


It is nearing midday now and Buck wants to check one more place near Mattawoman Creek before dropping me off. His front deck is busting with rods now, though he has only utilized a few of them so far today.

The stretch of grass we stop on is some of the best looking yet. The water has a slight stain to it, so Buck grabs a vibrating jig.

After about 100 yards the grass begins to thicken up. Buck changes to a frog and receives a blow up, though it isn’t enough to sell him on this area.

“I may come back here closer to low tide just to see if I can get a few more bites or not,” Buck explains.

As we run out of grass it is time to run back to Smallwood State Park to drop me off.


Buck plans on spending the rest of his day running south. His first day of practice was tough and today hasn’t been much better. Though he still has a solid half day of fishing left, plus Tuesday to dial it in. He hasn’t checked some of his juice yet, and now that the camera is out of the boat I bet he’ll really kick it up a notch. 

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2017-06-15-potomac-river 


Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Hailing from Minnesota, Josh Douglas is in his third year on the FLW Tour and looking for his first FLW Cup qualification. Were it not for a disqualification in the final event of the year at St. Clair in 2018, Douglas would have sailed into the Cup. After a tough start to the year at Rayburn, he’s planning to get back on track at the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger on Lake Toho. READ MORE »


Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida. READ MORE »


Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Whether it was a canal or small sections of the lake, each pro in the top chose to hunker down in an area and milk it for all it was worth in the season opener of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division presented by Power-Pole. Here’s a look at how the action unfolded. READ MORE »


A Look at Lake Toho

Stop No. 2 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes us to Lake Toho and the several other lakes strung along the Kissimmee River. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament will take off from Big Toho Marina on the north end of the namesake lake, but competitors will be able to spread out down the Kissimmee River into Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch), Lake Kissimmee, and perhaps even Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie if they’re feeling adventurous. READ MORE »


Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee wasn’t her normal self in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener presented by Power-Pole. Bites were few and far between, but the top-10 pros dialed it in and got it done. Winner Nick Thliveros relied heavily on a crankbait and so did others, but Florida faithful’s like swim jigs, soft plastics and topwaters also fared well. READ MORE »


Niles Rallies for Co-angler Title

The Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole was a grind no matter if you were in the front of the boat or back. Bites were few and far between, and as a co-angler just catching a keeper or two kept you in the hunt. Niles started strong with an opening-day limit worth 18-9 to have him in the lead. On day two, he cooled off and brought a goose egg to the stage. Still, his day-one weight carried him to the final round where he started the day in fourth. Paired with Brett Preuett, Niles got to work Saturday. READ MORE »


Thliveros Brings it Home

Nick Thliveros led after day two on Okeechobee and after weighing his lowest weight of the week, he was able to seal the deal for his first Costa FLW Series win as a pro. READ MORE »


Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The third and final day of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole has the weather anglers have been hoping for since they started practice. A light breeze, plenty of sun and temperatures near 80 degrees have the top 10 pros and co-anglers licking their chops for a chance at the biggest bag of the tournament. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 2

Fishing as a whole is still tough on the Big O, but there was definitely an improvement today – especially for the guys at the top of the leaderboard. READ MORE »


Thliveros in Charge on Okeechobee

Nick Thliveros is one day away from taking the title in the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »


Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Every ounce counts in a tournament, and that will certainly ring true today. The second day of Costa FLW Series competition on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole may be off to a better start, but big bites are still few and far between. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 1

Things are tough on Okeechobee, but these pros cracked some of the code to wrangle solid catches. READ MORE »


Roder Out Front on Big O

Okeechobee is normally the place of dreams. This week, however, it isn’t quite living up to its reputation. Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on the Big O saw plenty of fish, though the quality bites were hard to come by. Troy Roder of Brookeland, Texas, set the pace early with a 19-pound, 15-ounce limit to grab the lead in the season opener – presented by Power-Pole – with a lead of over 4 pounds heading into Friday. READ MORE »


Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Power fishing and flipping lead the charge for the first few hours of fishing on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »


A Different Okeechobee

Cold fronts, dirty water and lower water levels make for an interesting start to the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season. READ MORE »


Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Florida is a familiar place for FLW competition, and Lake Okeechobee is probably the best-known fishery the Sunshine State has to offer. So there shouldn’t be many surprises when the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division kicks off the season Jan. 31–Feb. 2 on the Big O with an event presented by Power-Pole. READ MORE »


By the Numbers: Lake Toho

The FLW Tour season opener on Sam Rayburn was a slugfest for sure. Fortunately for fans and anglers alike, the second stop of the season could be just as good, as the Tour heads to Central Florida and Lake Toho and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Kissimmee, Fla., on February 7. READ MORE »


2019 Lake Toho Preview

Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho for short) is the first of four lakes on the menu for pros in the second stop of the FLW Tour. At the south end of Toho, a lock and a series of canals leads to Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch) and Lake Kissimmee, which are all fair game for the pros. READ MORE »


How to Bass Fish High Water in Winter

High water isn’t unusual in the spring or summer, but dealing with rising water this early in the year was somewhat of a new experience for many of the pros – as it is for the weekend warrior. Therefore, the Rayburn Tour event is a case study on how to handle this situation and still put loads of bass in the boat. READ MORE »


Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Russell Cecil is one of a number of standout Texas anglers fishing the FLW Tour opener this week on Sam Rayburn. After a lackluster rookie campaign in 2018, fishing near home is a great opportunity for the Willis, Texas, pro to get the year started off strong. Though the conditions are far from normal, a few hours on the final day of practice reveal that Cecil certainly has a read on the bass. READ MORE »