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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

A Potomac Grind?

Chris Johnston

The final event of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division season was supposed to be a bit of a slugfest. Set on the Potomac River and presented by Plano, the plan was to take advantage of a resurgent population of grass-dwelling largemouths. A week and a half ago, the fishing was great, almost as good as it was in the spring – something changed when the FLW Series anglers descended on the big tidal river to start practice.

 

About the fishery

Running roughly north to south, the Potomac is a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Up above Washington, D.C., the river is shallow, rocky and home to some smallmouths – below that, the tides begins to take effect and the river broadens out. Down in the meat of the Potomac, the main attraction for the bass is the grass - the main river and the creeks and bays are loaded with all kinds of it. Where most tournaments are won, from about D.C. in the north to Potomac Creek in the south, there is a healthy population of largemouths living anywhere from the very backs of creeks that deepen up to grass beds that abut the main river.

 

Current conditions

It’s summertime in a big way, and practice was sweltering for the pros, but there’s currently a bit of a cooldown underway. The water temperatures in practice ranged from about 83 to 86 degrees, but air temperatures aren’t supposed to break much above the mid-80s over the next few days. Most pros are singing the blues, and it looks like the fishing is tough, perhaps in part to the sheer quantity of grass. Many bays that are ordinarily pretty accessible are almost choked out and a real chore to navigate through.

The tide is a major concern at the Potomac, and for the competition days, it won’t be ideal. Per conventional wisdom, the best tide is an outgoing or a low tide, and the tides during the competition will mostly be incoming or high and outgoing, with high tide occurring between 10:20 a.m. on day one and at about noon on the final day.

 

Tactics in play

Because of the grass, you can expect a lot of the usual Potomac staples to play – flipping jigs and soft plastics and winding vibrating jigs and swim jigs will put a lot of fish in the boat. Frogging is also good in the grass, and Kermit could be good for a few kicker bites every day. Because the fishing is a little tougher than usual, it’s going to be worth keeping an eye on finesse techniques, and not just Senkos. Drop-shots have a history of success on the Potomac, and they might well be a player this week.

 

Bryan Schmitt

Critical factors

  • Generating bites – If the fishing is as tough as the pros seem to think it will be, just getting five decent bites could be key. 
  • Playing the crowds – The Potomac usually fishes pretty tight, and finding an area to milk that everyone else isn’t in on might go a long way.
  • Being Bryan Schmitt – After a subpar showing in the FLW Tour event on the Potomac this spring, the king of the Potomac is out for revenge. Word is he’s on ‘em.

 

Dock talk

Leading the Angler of the Year race by 15 points over Casey Smith, Chris Johnston is looking for his second points title. Usually he’s a favorite on the Potomac, but after a scant two days of practice, he’s not feeling it this time.

“I’m glad I’ve got a few points to spare, that’s for sure,” says Johnston. “I was looking forward to catching a few flipping largemouth, but that’s not happening now. The flipping bite is nonexistent, and it’s hard to catch a bass right now to be honest.

“The grass has changed a lot since I was here in June, usually there’s a bunch of good milfoil with good canopies, and the hydrilla has choked a lot of that up. You would think they’d be on the edge, but that’s not really happening either. It’s the toughest I’ve ever seen the Potomac fish.”

Newly crowned Forrest Wood Cup Champion Justin Atkins is experiencing similar problems. He decided to jump in the tournament for fun and, and he thinks he may end up regretting it.

“In the spring it seemed like the fish were really tightly grouped and in really obvious areas,” says Atkins. “Now it seems like the bites are really random, and you’ll fish two miles to get two bites. The grass is a lot thicker, it’s choked a lot more areas out, which will probably make it fish smaller. Last time it was thin enough you could troll around, now I feel like everybody will probably be on the outside edge.”

Chris O’Brien has had a bit of a tough practice as well, but, he and Atkins have both bumped into at least a few quality bites.

“I think it’s still going to take at least 17 a day to win,” says O’Brien, who finished eighth at the 1000 Islands last month. “I’ve seen some decent quality, but there’s a big gap between quality and just getting bites. I’ve caught way too many fish that are just 10-inches.”

 

Tournament details 

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Smallwood State Park, 2750 Sweden Point Road, Marbury, Md.

Weigh-In Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Smallwood State Park

Complete details

Tags: jody-white  morning-story  2017-08-24-potomac-river 

/tips/2019-02-12-aoy-update-lake-toho

AOY Update: Lake Toho

 With the first two events of the 2019 FLW Tour season in the books, it’s time to take a look at how the Angler of the Year race is shaping up. At Sam Rayburn and Lake Toho the pros were tested with very different conditions, and the standings include anglers different specialties and skill sets than at this time last year, when the Tour’s first two events were both held in Florida. READ MORE »

/news/2019-02-11-top-10-baits-from-toho

Top 10 Baits from Toho

The second stop of the 2019 FLW Tour landed right on the spawn on Lake Toho and the other lakes on the Kissimmee Chain. Top finishers caught bass in all phases of the spawn. Collectively, they used just about every bait you’ll ever need if you want to catch a bass this time of year in the Sunshine State. READ MORE »

/news/2019-02-06-roaming-kissimmee-with-douglas

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 »

/news/2019-02-04-a-look-at-lake-toho

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 »

/news/2019-01-31-a-different-okeechobee

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 »

/news/2019-01-25-2019-lake-toho-preview

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 »

/news/2019-01-15-top-10-baits-from-sam-rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Fishing deep-diving crankbait, dragging Carolina rigs and working finesse baits such as drop-shots were the keys to success at the FLW Tour opener at Sam Rayburn. Here are the bass-fishing baits that the top pros used. READ MORE »

/news/2019-01-09-cecil-s-final-morning-of-practice

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 »

/news/2019-01-07-figuring-out-rayburn-with-powell

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Hensley Powell has quickly and quietly amassed quite a record with FLW. In just three years fishing the Costa FLW Series, he’s earned over $90,000, and he got a win at Table Rock in the Central Division in 2018. READ MORE »

/news/2019-01-07-sam-rayburn-lake-tour

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

This year, the FLW Tour kicks off in Texas with a showdown presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. Big Sam hasn’t hosted too many FLW Tour events in the past, but it’s loaded with bass and bass fishing history. The lake is much higher than normal right now, which will no doubt produce different fishing than is typical for winter on Rayburn. READ MORE »

/news/2019-01-06-practice-starts-at-rayburn

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Day one of practice for the FLW Tour presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn started this morning. We hung around takeoff to see friends we haven't seen in months and to get the season underway.  READ MORE »

/news/2019-01-04-high-water-will-factor-at-rayburn

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

Typical winter fishing on Sam Rayburn would call for a lot of lipless crankbaits, Carolina rigs and a focus on offshore structure and submerged grass. However, for the FLW Tour opener January 10-13 a lot of that may be out the window – or at least a lot different than many of the Rayburn sticks in the field are used to. Sam Rayburn has risen steadily since December 10th, and as of January 3, the lake is at 171.43 feet, which is 7 feet over full pool of 164.4 feet. READ MORE »

/news/2019-01-04-perfect-weather-now-on-tap-in-texas

Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Amistad is one of south Texas’ most famous reservoirs – the other being Falcon. Though it’s not the juggernaut that it was in the not too distant past, Amistad is still an incredible tournament fishery, with room to spread out and plenty of grass and rocky structure to target for big giant wintertime bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2019-01-02-2019-rookie-rundown

2019 Rookie Rundown

No matter how you get to the FLW Tour, you’re only a rookie once. This year, 34 pros are taking their talents on Tour for the first time. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-12-19-how-to-catch-winter-spotted-bass

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

Some of the best fishing of the year in the South occurs on the reservoirs with spotted bass in Georgia and the Carolinas. As a guide on Lake Lanier, FLW Tour pro Rob Jordan is adept at staying on the spots all winter. He knows when to fish deep or go shallow, and how to apply a jigging spoon, jig, underspin and crankbait to take full advantage of the opportunities. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-12-19-rookie-profile-ron-nelson

Rookie Profile: Ron Nelson  

While plenty of the Tour’s new pros have impressive resumes, few boast records as well-rounded and superlative as Ron Nelson’s. After years of success at the Costa FLW Series level, it’s finally time to see what the Michigan angler can do against the best in the nation.   READ MORE »

/tips/2018-12-14-how-to-fish-umbrella-rigs-for-bass

How to Fish Umbrella Rigs for Bass

Castable umbrella rigs, also called Alabama rigs or A-rigs, were first deployed in tournament bass fishing by Paul Elias in the 2011 FLW Tour Open on Lake Guntersville. Since then, they’ve garnered a lot of controversy and caught a lot of bass. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-12-10-sinking-a-staysee-for-winter-bass

Sinking a Staysee for Winter Bass

Fishing late and early in the season is often challenging. Because the water is cold, it can take a lot more patience to find fish or to coax them into biting. If you truly want to put your patience to the test, you might consider fishing a jerkbait ultra-slow. If you want to try for superhuman patience, you might want to fish a jerkbait like Cody Murray. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-12-05-hallman-s-5-go-to-baits-for-new-lakes

Hallman’s 5 Go-To Baits for New Lakes

Deciding how best to figure things out on a new lake is one of the toughest challenges Tour pros and regular anglers alike encounter. Sometimes familiarity with the style of lake makes it easy, but other times you eventually need to stretch well outside of your comfort zone. Bradley Hallman has had success all over the country, and he’s got a stable of baits that he likes to rely on early in the process of breaking down a new lake. Your starting baits might be a little different, but Hallman’s approach to new water is worth considering. READ MORE »

/tips/2018-12-04-review-graph-glass

Review: Graph Glass

Graph Glass is a tempered screen protector that you can self-install on the most popular models of fishing electronics. For about $45 to $60 per unit, it protects the screen from flying tungsten or other projectiles, and there are other benefits as well. As far as I can tell, it’s a real winner of a product. READ MORE »