UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

The second stop of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is underway on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance, started off this morning under clear and not altogether uncomfortable conditions after a second consecutive evening of scattered thundershowers. Though fishing has been tough for many in practice, changing conditions could well improve the bite, and the second event of the season will go a long way toward clarifying the Angler of the Year race heading into the finale at the St. Lawrence River.

Complete details

 

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 begin to take effect and the river broadens out. 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 to the grass beds smack on the main river.

 

Current conditions

After a few blazing hot weeks, the water temperature is up into the high 80s through most of the river. In addition to the hot water, the grass is quite different than it usually is. In most years, the grass is a mix of hydrilla and milfoil, but this year it’s predominantly hydrilla, with some star grass mixed in. The hydrilla is really thick in some areas, but not necessarily in all the usual places.

“The weed growth right now is the worst I’ve seen it in years,” says Ed Casey of Whiteford, Md. “It’s smothered out a lot of the bays. I’ve never seen it this thick or this hard to fish, and I’ve been fishing here since I was 16 years old.”

Casey Smith, who won the Costa FLW Series event on the Potomac in 2016, says the dominance of hydrilla has made fishing pretty tough.

“There’s no milfoil at all, I haven’t seen one blade of it,” relays Smith. “The only thing out there is hydrilla and star grass. The hydrilla is so thick that they just bury in it. It’s very difficult to get to them and I think the feeding windows are much shorter. You might have an hour window of a really good bite in June, but with it this hot and finicky I think it is like 10 minutes. I think the majority of the feeding is probably at night or early morning.”

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday.

Two factors could mix things up over the next few days, which may be a good thing considering the tough practice. The first is the potential for some freshly muddied water from the scattered thunderstorms – depending on how the rain fell, there’s a chance some of the creeks could have gotten pretty muddied up. The second is likely all positive – there’s a cooldown on the way. The high for Friday is in the upper 70s, and the high for Saturday is in the low 80s. We’ll see what happens, but cooler weather should make things more comfortable for both the bass and the anglers.

 

Tactics in play

Because of the Potomac’s famous grass, most of the techniques in play usually center around that. Frogs, flipping plastics, swim jigs and vibrating jigs will always get a lot of play. With how thick the hydrilla is in many places this week, heavier weights than usual will be on deck in many cases.

Some crankbaits and the like will see action on rock, docks, wood and in current, but the other thing to really keep an eye on is finesse. A drop-shot can be deadly both in and out of grass on the Potomac, and a wacky rig or a weightless Senko has been known to catch a pile of bass when things are tough.

 

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. 
  • Timing – Smith’s assertion that the bite windows are small will mean that making the most of them will be absolutely critical.
  • 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.

 

Dock talk

Overall, the fishing seems to have been fairly tough in practice. Sure, some folks have had some solid days, but nearly everyone also has a day to report when they really stubbed their toe.

On the low side is Joseph Thompson, who nearly won the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American on the Potomac this spring.

“I think 32 to 34 pounds could win this,” says Thompson. “I could be really wrong, but you could catch them one day and the next day catch 6 pounds.”

“It’s been a really slow bite,” says Casey, who’s prediction is about on par. “I think you’re probably going to need around 15 pounds a day. I may be a little heavy on that, but last week 15-2 won the BFL, and a buddy tournament out of Aquia took a little over 16 pounds to win.”

“It’s not nearly as good as 2016, and I think it’s tougher than the 2017 tournament,” says Smith. “I haven’t seen any upper end quality, I think 14 pounds a day is going to do really, really good.”

With a few more days of practice under his belt than he had earlier in the week, Kurt Mitchell still thinks 15 pounds a day is the mark to shoot for.

“It’s not that bad,” says Mitchell. “There’s so many 3-pounders in this place, it’s hard to believe someone can’t catch five a day somehow.”

 

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  2019-08-22-potomac-river 

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

Smith says that the best time for fall largemouth fishing happens after the first big cold snap, when the water finally drops below 60 degrees.   READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

B. Lat, MDJ Win Pan Am

Brian Latimer and Mark Daniels Jr. are best friends off the water, and it looks like they’ve got the makings of a deadly team on the water. Weighing five smallmouths for 21.16 pounds in the first session and 23.92 pounds in the second session, the pair totaled 45.08 pounds to win the individual competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. READ MORE »

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Canada Wins Gold at Pan Am

Though Team USA locked up the top three places, Team Canada placed six teams in the top 10 and averaged 38.98 pounds to win the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis. Results were tallied based on the average weight brought in by each team in the two sessions of fishing, which almost guaranteed an extremely close finish. Earning a silver medal, Team USA finished just a hundredth of a pound back with a 38.97 average. READ MORE »

Canada Leads at Pan Am

Canada Leads at Pan Am

The first session of competition in the Pan American Bass Championship on Lake St. Francis was a roaring success. After the morning weigh-in, Team Canada is leading with an average of 21.16 pounds, Team USA is in second with a 19.6 average, Team Akwesasne First Nation is in third with 18.62 and Mexico had an up and down morning to accrue a 17.24-pound average. READ MORE »

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Do you need a generator for bass fishing?

Austin Felix has been running a generator for a few years now, and his primary use is during the spring in the North, when he’s spending mega-days on the water practicing for tournaments that feature bedding smallmouths. READ MORE »

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Day 1 Delayed at Pan Am

Because of steady rain and hard winds at around 20 mph or more, day one of the Pan American Bass Championship has been canceled. With gusts up to 40 mph in the forecast, the organizers have decided to fish two sessions on Friday instead. READ MORE »

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

Pan Am Gets Underway in Canada

With the official training day in the rearview, the Pan American Bass Championship starts Thursday, Oct. 16, on Lake St. Francis in Cornwall, Ontario. Teams from Mexico, the Akwesasne First Nation, Canada and the United States will be competing the next two days for glory and country, but also to help along the movement to make bass fishing an Olympic sport. READ MORE »

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

Umbrella Rigs for Great Lakes Smallies   

The days of catching seemingly infinite bass on an umbrella rig are mostly gone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't fish with one. The rig is a great tool for catching fall smallmouth bass on the big waters of the Great Lakes and elsewhere up north. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

All the talk leading up the final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks was about the weather. And Mother Nature did not disappoint. READ MORE »

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks will launch right as a massive cold front arrives. How massive? The forecast has been calling for heavy rain and a high of 74 today, and so far hasn’t been wrong. A major thunderstorm greeted anglers this morning and delayed takeoff by an hour and fifteen minutes thanks to abundant lightning. Tomorrow? A high in the mid 40s. READ MORE »

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

“On a normal day, if the best five aren’t over 25 pounds, it isn’t a good day,” Stefan says. “My best days with a buddy have been where the best five have gone 29 to 32 pounds. We get lots of 6-pounders a year, and we’ve caught some right at the 7-pound mark. I’ve had a few on that we haven’t landed that were bigger.” READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

You can catch smallmouths on a lot of baits in the early fall, but one of the most consistent producers later in the year is a blade bait, and Scott Dobson is an expert with it. His go-to is the old-fashioned Silver Buddy, but he has some distinct preferences and tweaks for better success. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »