UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review

Bryan Schmitt’s Potomac Review
Bryan Schmitt

While Marvin Reese won the Costa FLW Series event on the Potomac, eliciting universal joy and praise from his friends and admirers, Bryan Schmitt finished 17th. Ordinarily, a top 20 and a check can be quite good, but for Schmitt, who has a sterling record on tidal fisheries along the East Coast, just getting paid isn’t good enough. He wants to at least be in the running on the final day, and everyone expects his next win will come sooner rather than later.

I hit the water with Schmitt after the event for some tidal insight, and while we fished, he broke down the tournament and the high-risk strategy he banked on.

Reese’s winning pattern

This year, fishing hard cover has been more productive than it usually is on the Potomac. A bad year for the grass in 2018 rolled over into slow grass growth this spring. Though there was a ton of hydrilla at the time of this event, it still didn’t set up well. Reese won the tournament primarily from one large pier.

“On the Potomac, hands down, I want to fish grass. The grass holds the numbers,” says Schmitt. “But if you look at the event this week on the Potomac, the tournament was won on structure. All I’m going to say is, nobody in the field was able to find the motherlode in the grass, but it exists. There’s always a tremendous amount of fish in the grass; it can just hold more fish, more bait, and it’s better habitat. On the Potomac – or any tidal water where grass exists – grass is king.

“At certain times of year, though, grass fishing on the Potomac can be tough, whether it’s moon phase-related or weather-related. It can get really hard to locate the fish, especially when you get to this time of year and you have miles and miles of matted hydrilla. Somewhere there’s a 10-by-20-foot section of hydrilla out there that has the motherlode, but it’s hard to find.”

Schmitt says that when the grass bite gets as difficult as it was, it can be wise to turn to hard cover. A lot of anglers in the top 10 demonstrated that – namely Reese and Robert Grike. However, both those pros also came in without limits on the final day. According to Schmitt, finding the numbers required for multiple tournament days on hard cover is extremely difficult, and if you have to split those fish up between multiple anglers, the odds of finding success get even longer.

“I was able to come out and practice a week and a half before this event for two days,” says Schmitt. “Because of my knowledge of the Potomac and my knowledge of the time of year, I knew it was going to be difficult, and I knew the fish weren’t everywhere and that all the guys were going to find the same fish.

“The Potomac is one place you cannot find something and have it all to yourself. I spent two full days fishing oddball, off-the-wall things, hoping to find a 12- to 14-pound consistent bag of fish. I felt it was that tough, to where, if an angler could consistently catch 12 to 14 pounds, they could make the cut and be in it at the end of the event. Knowing I was taking myself out of the equation for a 16- or 18-pound bag, I wanted to be consistent, to make the cut, and I knew if I made the cut I would have a chance because the leaderboard was that tight.”

Bryan Schmitt

Schmitt ended up checking basically everything he had on the Potomac without finding what he was looking for. Everything from grass to hard places didn’t seem to have the consistency he was after, until he found a backwater with wood that required a significant commitment of time to get into.

“The problem was, Wednesday [the night before the event], we had a substantial storm, and it hit my location. It didn’t hit five miles north or five miles south,” says Schmitt. “I knew it would be risky to go, but I still chose to stick to the plan. The problem was, I didn’t have a backup plan close to this location. I was all-in.

“I arrived, and it was dirty. The water was 91 degrees in practice, and now it was 71 degrees and rolling mud. It was everything I know you should never fish on the Potomac. But I knew they had to be there, and I knew I was going to throw my bait near them.”

Ultimately, it was not having a secondary location that led to a subpar first day of 8 pounds, 9 ounces that put Schmitt in a hole he was unable to dig out of.

“It was challenging,” says Schmitt. “The few bites I got, the fish would barely get it, and I missed a ton of bites because of the dirty water. The kicker was not having a backup spot close to there, and it cost me.”

Weighing just four fish from his spot on day one, Schmitt went back on day two. By then, the water had cleared up to about 7 inches of visibility, and he was able to flip up the projected 13 pounds he thought he could get with relative ease. One more fish on day one would likely have put him inside the cut.

“Marvin Reese, who won the event, he fished a location that, generally speaking, it would take a hurricane to muddy up,” Schmitt explains. “His location was very stable – cold, warm, it wasn’t going to get him.

“He made a very strategic decision, and it paid off this week. He pretty much took weather variables out of the equation, which is a smart thing to do. It’s one thing I used to do out here; I used to try to find fish that, no matter what the weather did, I could still catch them, and I kind of got away from that during this event. I knew I was choosing a very risky deal, and it just didn’t work out.”

Tags: bryan-schmitt  -potomac-river  -marvin-reese  -august  jody-white  jody-white-  post-tournament  2019-08-22-potomac-river 

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie featured pretty tough fishing overall. On the first two days, many of the top pros ran to the Detroit River or St. Clair for their fish, and others plied the waters nearer Sandusky. On the final day, the entire field was confined to the waters in and around Sandusky Bay due to wind, and everyone switched to targeting largemouths. READ MORE »

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Despite weighing in just 9 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day, it was still enough to move Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., from second to first for the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With a total of 38-12, Mundy takes home a new Phoenix boat package valued at over $33,000. READ MORE »

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Starting the final day in eighth place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With the field confined to the area around Sandusky Bay due to wind, Rodgers brought 15 pounds, 10 ounces to the scale for a total of 48-12 to earn his first win with FLW. For his win, Rogers gets the trophy and a $32,439 paycheck. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

With big winds present even before putting boats in the water, it was obvious that day three of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was going to throw the anglers a curveball. After a short delay, the new boundaries were set from Marblehead Lighthouse to Cedar Point, and the pros blasted off in search of bass. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

The final day of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie is likely to change things up quite a bit. With many of the top pros making long runs, there’s a chance much of what happened on days one and two will be physically impossible on day three. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event has been pretty slow across the board, and particularly for the leaders. Though the weather isn’t too bad and the wind is fairly manageable, the fishing in Erie is slower than it was yesterday. READ MORE »

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

One of a number of pros who elected to make the run from Sandusky to the Detroit River, Troy Stokes pulled into the lead on day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was not dominated by St. Clair as some expected. Though St. Clair did produce the lead for Scott Dobson, a hodgepodge of techniques and locations got it done for the other top pros on Erie. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

From a weather standpoint, day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has been almost too perfect. Slick and hot from the start, anglers have been able to go wherever they want and fish however they want. READ MORE »

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

The weights on day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie were about what folks expected: plenty of quality fish, but a lack of the plump 4- and 5-pounders that Erie is so known for. Weighing one of only two bags over 20 pounds, Scott Dobson put 20-12 on the scale after a day of fishing that took him as far from Sandusky as the mouth of the St. Clair River. READ MORE »

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

The frog world is pretty stacked with good options these days, but the Strike King Popping Perch still manages to stand out. READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Chickamauga

AOY Update: Lake Chickamauga

Though Jacob Wheeler won the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga in grand style, his win didn’t impact the Angler of the Year standings. Only the original Pro Circuit anglers were competing for AOY points. That means the AOY focus is still on Ron Nelson, who slipped off his blazing pace a bit, but still holds the lead heading into the final two regular-season events in July and August on the Mississippi River and the Detroit River, respectively. READ MORE »

Occoquan’s Pirowski Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Potomac River

Occoquan’s Pirowski Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Potomac River

MARBURY, Md. – Boater Alex Pirowski of Occoquan, Virginia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland. For his victory, Pirowski earned a total of $5,337... READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

When you put one of the largest and most talented fields of bass anglers on one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country, big things are bound to happen. The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga became a battle between shallow and deep, with pros on either side catching big stringers of giant bass. Here's how they did it. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

When so many anglers are throwing similar baits and running similar patterns, doing something a little different can be quite the advantage. Sure enough, the pros who made the top 10 at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga all had techniques or tactics of their own to set themselves apart. READ MORE »

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Competition in the Shenandoah Division presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will restart at the Potomac River on June 27. With the river’s bass fully into the postspawn now, the event should be a classic summertime Potomac derby. READ MORE »

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

When the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks back up next week with the Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the famous lake isn’t the only reservoir available to pros in the event. If they want, pros will be able to run and lock up into Watts Bar Lake or down into Nickajack Lake. READ MORE »