UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

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 

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Hailing from Ocean Springs, Miss., Andy Niles has now won on Okeechobee two years in a row. In 2019, he picked up the win in the Southeastern Division event on Okeechobee, and this year he got the win in the second Toyota Series Southern Division event of the year. Weighing a total of 44 pounds, 7 ounces, Niles takes home a new Phoenix bass boat for his efforts. Friday was Niles’ son Cooper’s 8th birthday, and though he’s probably not going to get the boat for a present, he’ll at least get a very happy dad. READ MORE »

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Weighing the biggest limit of the final day worth 19 pounds, 4 ounces, Brandon Medlock locked up his third Toyota Series title in the Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. With 54-4 overall, Medlock won comfortably and was essentially the only pro to put together two very good days of fishing, with a 13-9 catch on day one as his worst day. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee is proving to be just as tense as expected. With the entire top 10 less than 4 pounds apart, anything can happen, and it’s entirely possible that someone in ninth or 10th catches a big bag to come from behind. READ MORE »

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Despite nice weather this week, which has been a rarity for FLW tournaments in Florida this year, the fishing on Okeechobee just hasn’t been what the lake is capable of producing. Still, Okeechobee hammer Brandon Medlock rallied on day two dropping 21 pounds, 7 ounces on the scale to take the lead in the Toyota Series Southern Division event on the Big O with 35 pounds even. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

The weather is still splendid, but day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee has been tougher than day one. While keepers were pretty easy to come by early yesterday, that hasn’t quite been the case today. Still, the weather is good and there’s plenty of time left for the lake to turn on. READ MORE »

Honnerlaw in Front at Big O

Honnerlaw in Front at Big O

Day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee was great from a fish-catching standpoint, but somewhat lacking from a big fish perspective. In the lead, Bryan Honnerlaw of Moore Haven, Fla., put 19 pounds, 14 ounces on the scale. Behind him, three other pros also managed 19 pounds or better, and there is an absolute stack of anglers in the mid-teen range. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee has been a beauty so far. Takeoff went off without a hitch in the morning, and there’s basically been just a light breeze and sunny skies all day. Though it hasn’t been oppressively hot, it has been quite warm, and after setting down on their first spot, many anglers probably never put their hoodies back on. READ MORE »

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

The weatherman did it again. About two weeks prior to today’s kickoff for the Toyota Series Western Division season at Lake Havasu, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80s and sunshine for three straight days during the tournament. Instead, practice was rainy, and the current forecast calls for precipitation for at least the first two days and highs that likely won’t top 70 degrees.  READ MORE »

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water. READ MORE »

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

Tallying up 1,752 points for the season, ETBU beat out Tarleton State-Stephenville by 16 points to earn the Southern Conference School of the Year title. READ MORE »

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

The kickoff event of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division takes place on Douglas Lake on March 7. One of the most scenic lakes in the country, Douglas promises some good prespawn fishing. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

Through two events, the leader of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year race isn’t unexpected, but the standings behind Ron Nelson are in absolute turmoil. With Lake Martin and Cherokee Lake on tap, things could begin to clarify a bit as spotted bass, smallmouths and lakes that actually have rock become factors. So, while we’re about to run through the top contenders, it’s highly likely that the next few events really reshape the standings.  READ MORE »

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell kicks off the 2020 Toyota Series Eastern Division season this week with a three-day, mid-week showdown of the area’s best bass anglers, hosted by Visit Oconee South Carolina. Hartwell definitely has the potential to produce 20-plus-pound bags, but Mother Nature has decided to create some havoc with lake levels this winter, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how well the fishery shows out. READ MORE »

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Freezing temperatures greeted anglers for the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga this morning. As usual on Lake Chickamauga this time of year, every angler is hoping for a 30-pound-plus bag of bass during the Feb. 27-29 tournament. READ MORE »

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

Championship week for any sport is as exciting as it gets and it’s no different for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance this week on the Harris Chain. Competing for a $30,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, 162 college bass fishing clubs will have free range of the chain to vie for the title. READ MORE »

Sharp Blasts 40 Pounds to Win on Rayburn

Sharp Blasts 40 Pounds to Win on Rayburn

Winning a tournament is always pretty cool, but winning the way Anthony Sharp did in the second Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event in the Cowboy Division presented by A.R.E. is next-level. Weighing 40 pounds, 6 ounces of Sam Rayburn bass, the Village Mills, Texas, angler beat second place by more than 21 pounds. For the win, which was his first with FLW, Sharp took home a total of $7,000.  READ MORE »

Warmer Weather Good Sign at St. Johns

Warmer Weather Good Sign at St. Johns

The cold front that moved through northeast Florida last week shut down the fishing on the St. Johns River in a big way, just as bass were starting to move up to the banks to begin spawning. With the weather that came through, many of those fish pulled back off the bank to wait for more stable conditions. Fortunately, stability arrived this week in the form of warmer weather, but it remains to be seen if those three or four days of warm, stable conditions are going to be enough to get fish back up on beds. For now, it’s safe to assume anglers are going to have to be adaptable over the next few days in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener. READ MORE »