UPCOMING EVENT: FLW SERIES - 2020 - Toledo Bend Lake

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional
Bradford Beavers

“It was a grind” may be one of the most over-used phrases in fishing. Yet, sometimes, it’s actually accurate. 

The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Regional on the Potomac River Oct. 17-19 was one of those times.

A cold front and significant winds didn’t just cancel the first day of the event; they drastically changed water levels and left anglers scrambling for any semblance of a pattern. A total of 37 pros never weighed in a fish either day, and Bradford Beavers sure felt like he might be one of them when he got to his planned starting spot and found it on dry ground. Yet, a little luck can go a long way in an event like that, and he got just the right amount of luck. 

The FLW Tour pro found a magic pass through a grass flat that accounted for the majority of his weight, as he caught 13-15 and 14-9 over two days to win with a total of 28-8. 

“I don’t really know why they were there,” says Beavers, who hails from Summerville, S.C. “There was nothing really different. But if I had gone 50 yards in either direction, I never would’ve found them.”

Beavers had only been to the Potomac once before – five years ago – for a Costa FLW Series event in the summertime. So he spent the majority of practice refamiliarizing himself with the fishery. Overall, practice was OK, and he figured he at least identified a starting spot for Thursday.

Then the storm happened, with winds gusting so hard the river went from flood stages to as low as what even locals had ever seen. Bryan Schmitt, who finished third in this event, guides on the river and said he’d never seen the Potomac change that much so quickly. 

“The place was a mud hole,” adds Beavers, who never ventured more than five miles from takeoff. “I was afraid I’d get stuck at blastoff because we were kicking up mud. I got to my first spot and it was practically dry. So I went to another spot that was a little deeper. I was fishing around, not catching anything, so I started fishing my way out because it was too shallow.”

As he fished his way out, he caught his first keeper. And then he caught another, and another, and another. He landed four keepers by 9:15 a.m. from a 50-yard stretch by alternating between a 1/2-ounce white spinnerbait and a black-and-blue homemade vibrating jig thrown on Dobyns Champion 734 C rods. 

At that point, Beavers thought he might’ve figured the fish out in terms of depth, and he made two more passes – on either side of his first pass. Both produced the same result: nothing. So he made one more pass exactly like the initial “accidental” pass and caught two more before leaving. 

Beavers fished another five hours without a single bite, making it pretty easy for him to know where he’d be starting on Saturday.

“I lined up and made the exact same pass, and I had a limit by 9:30 a.m.,” says Beavers of the final morning. “It wasn’t a flurry or anything. You just had to grind and fish for them; make a lot of casts and eventually you ran into one.”

Fortunately, the water had started to come back by then, which allowed him to get back on his previously planned starting spot. He then played ping-pong between the two spots the rest of the day, seemingly able to catch one keeper that culled him up every time he moved.

One key to his best water was the presence of plenty of bait.

“There were seagulls picking crawdads off the top of the water,” adds Beavers. “I’d never seen that. I’d seen them dive down to get shad, but never just easily picking up crawdads like that.”

By the time Saturday was over, Beavers had managed to land nine keepers, with seven coming from that magic 50-yard stretch, to help him close out his season with consecutive victories.

“I won the BFL on Lake Hartwell in September to qualify for the Regional,” says Beavers. “So, I’m extremely surprised and extremely satisfied to win the Regional. It’s the best way to end my season.”

 

Al Fiorille

Fiorille finds quantity, lacks quality

In a tournament where more guys zeroed both days (37) than caught a limit both days (32), having a spot where catching keepers was easy is a true luxury. Al Fiorille certainly had that luxury.

Fiorille hails from Mount Airy, Md., so he knows the river well. When he realized the water level was the lowest he’d ever seen on Friday, he knew anything he had in practice was shot, and instead decided to go off a bit of history.

“I remembered two old ditches I’d found years ago right off the edge of a big grass flat out in front of Farm Creek,” says Fiorille. “With the water being so low, I thought it might congregate the fish, and it definitely did.”

The ditches weren’t anything special, maybe 2 feet deeper than the adjacent flat. Yet, when the flat only has a foot of water on it, that extra 2 feet is a lot. It still wasn’t enough water at low tide to congregate the fish, as Fiorille didn’t have a fish in his livewell by noon. However, by around lunchtime, the tide had come in enough to bring the fish with it, and in 20 minutes he caught a limit. 

“I never left that 200-yeard stretch after that for the rest of the tournament,” says Fiorille.

Fiorille caught all his fish on one lure: a 3/8-ounce Big Mouth Lures Big Shakey bladed jig in KM candy with a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper trailer, which he threw on 15-pound test Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon line. He cast it down the center of the ditch, which was only 4 to 5 feet wide. 

However, as easy as he made the fishing look come lunchtime on day one, that was nothing compared to day two. 

“I blasted off the last day at 7:40 a.m., and I had a limit by 8 a.m.,” says Fiorille. “I probably caught 20 keepers, and I never lost a fish. The bigger fish just weren’t there. So I was close, but it just wasn’t enough.”

 

Bryan Schmitt

Schmitt “wins” by targeting isolated grass

With more than 30 top-10 finishes on the Potomac and other nearby tidal fisheries, Bryan Schmitt was the obvious favorite coming into the Potomac Regional.

Yet, when you’re the favorite, there’s pressure; pressure that only multiplies when the conditions bottom out like they did.

“I knew the conditions were lining up to be tough. Being the backside of a full moon was already going to make the tide go lower than usual,” says Schmitt. “Then with the wind, I scrapped everything I had in practice and decided to 100 percent fish the current conditions and fishing ‘simple stupid.’”

“Simple stupid” for Schmitt meant basically hunkering down in Belmont and targeting isolated stretches of grass out off the main grass beds that were now too dry to fish. Unfortunately, he was only able to find two of them, and both were maybe 40 yards long. They were so isolated that he figures he wouldn’t have been able to find them if the water had not been so low. So it was better than anything else, because everything else was gone.

“I mean, we were fishing places in practice you normally could never get a boat in because the water was so high at high tide,” says Schmitt. “So, [in the tournament] I never fished anything I did in practice because you couldn’t.”

With such limited options, Schmitt slowed down and beat up on both grass patches, flipping a Missile Baits D Bomb in El Diablo on a 5/0 Hayabusa straight shank hook with a 3/16-ounce weight. He threw the rig on 17-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon and a Fitzgerald Bryan Schmitt Signature Series Swim Jig rod.

While the setup seemed just as simple as his plan, one key for Schmitt was the color of his soft plastic.

“I think a big thing was matching the crayfish,” he says. “They’re very plentiful right now, and they’re all orange and red. So the El Diablo color is a spitting image.”

Schmitt admits the fishing was slow going, as he only got seven or eight bites a day, but it was enough to punch his ticket to the All-American.

“With the conditions changing so much, I’m thrilled to finish third,” says Schmitt. “I feel like I won.”

 

Top 10 boaters

(The top six qualify to fish the 2020 BFL All-American)

1. Bradford Beavers – Summerville, S.C. – 28-8 (10) – $71,200

2. Al Fiorille – Mount Airy, Md. – 25-11 (10) – $10,100

3. Bryan Schmitt – Deale, Md. – 24-5 (10) – $5,00

4. Dennis Burdette – Pembroke, Va. – 23-12 (10) – $3,000

5. Otto Hecht – Snead Ferry, N.C. – 23-5 (10) – $2,000

6. Frank Ippoliti – Mercersburg, Pa. – 23-4 (10) – $1,800

7. Ryan Powroznik – Hopewell, Va. – 23-3 (10) – $1,600

8. Andrew Heivly – Malvern, Pa. – 23-0 (10) – $1,400

9. Chris Baldwin – Lexington, N.C. – 22-15 (9) – $1,200

10. Derek Brown – Charlottesville, Va. – 22-12 (10) – $1,000

Complete results

 

Mark Blankenship

Blankenship drop-shots way to co-angler title

When you’re a co-angler, you’re at the mercy of where your boater wants to fish. Fortunately for co-angler Mark Blankenship, his boaters wanted to fish more or less exactly where Blankenship wanted to go, which sealed the co-angler’s victory.

The Christiansburg, Va., co-angler put in plenty of practice time for the event, during which he located a key stretch up the Occoquan River in the back of Belmont Bay were the fish were more than willing to eat a drop-shot.

His first-day boater John Vanore of Mullica Hill, N.J., initially ran to the Occoquan River, but it wasn’t the stretch Blankenship had found. Instead, they started out on a grass bed in the middle of the river, where they were getting beat up by the last remnants of the cold front blowing through.

“We ended up running up to D.C. when the tide got up to fish some jetties, but we really didn’t do much up there,” says Blankenship. “So we ended up running back down to the same grass bed in Occoquan, and I had a limit by about 10 a.m. and was even able to cull up three more times by 10:45 a.m.”

A key was simply committing himself to throwing a 3/8-ounce Dave’s Tournament Tackle swim jig in green pumpkin with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer.

“The grass was on top of the water, and I felt a vibrating jig would get hung up,” says Blankenship. “So I’d toss the swim jig to every pocket or hole I could. I’d swim it on the surface until it reached a hole, and then I’d drop it in.”

The game plan had him in first by a commanding 2-pound, 2-ounce lead thanks to his 12-2 limit, but Blankenship knew he’d have to back it up to be one of the lucky few co-anglers to make the All-American.

Paired with Thomas Guthke from Townville, S.C., on Saturday, Blankenship went back to D.C., where he was able to coax a pair of keepers to eat his drop-shot. But after that, they hit a long dry spell until a fateful move.

“He knew I was leading and wanted to help,” says Blankenship. “I couldn’t tell him where to go, but it just so happens that around 1:45 p.m. he decided to move to the Occoquan River. As we’re idling all the way back, I was giggling to myself inside. 

“Within 15 minutes I had my three other fish, and I probably caught 10 or 12 more keepers. It was a pretty magical thing.”

The “magic” drop-shot was a Roboworm Straight Tail Worm (morning dawn) on a 1/4-ounce Swagger Tungstenweight. 

“My absolute favorite thing to do in a tournament is throw a drop-shot,” adds Blankenship. “So it was kind of cool to be able to win like I did on the lure I love.”

 

Top 10 co-anglers

(The top six qualify to fish the 2020 BFL All-American)

1. Mark Blankenship – Christiansburg, Va. – 21-3 (10) – $50,200

2. Michael Duarte – Baltimore, Md. – 19-3 (9) – $5,050

3. Robert Wedding – Welcome, Md. – 18-13 (10) – $2,500

4. Chad Dorney – Mucungie, Pa. – 18-12 (10) – $1,500

5. Brent Jones – Okeana, Ohio – 18-10 (10) – $1,000

6. Timothy Kinder – Manassas, Va. – 18-7 (10) – $900

7. Patrick Hash – Roanoke, Va. – 18-6 (10) – $800

8. James Wilcox – Cincinnati, Ohio – 18-3 (9) – $700

9. Mike Wotanowski – Lake Hopatcong, N.J. – 17-9 (10) – $600

10. Cort Gardner – Jessup, Md. – 17-4 (10) – $500

Complete results

Tags: sean-ostruszka  headline-story  2019-10-17-potomac 

Cox Wins Again

Cox Wins Again

There’s no other way to say it: John Cox is clutch. There were times he made it look easy during the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit opener on Sam Rayburn, and there were times he was in full-blown scramble mode. But when he needed it most, Cox once again made the right call late on the final day to go wire-to-wire for the fifth Pro Circuit victory of his career. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 4 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 4 Coverage

John Cox was coasting through days one and two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit opener on Sam Rayburn. It wasn’t luck, but Cox simply had a spot that was doing a lot of the work for him. One cast, repeat, repeat again. That spot failed him on day three, and he scrambled just to scrounge up enough weight to retain the lead going into Championship Sunday. Now, Corey Neece and Darold Gleason are hot on his trail after both having put together spectacular performances yesterday. Either one could challenge Cox with ease today if their patterns and spots hold steady.  READ MORE »

Cox Losing Ground on Rayburn

Cox Losing Ground on Rayburn

READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 3 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 3 Coverage

The final 30 anglers are blasting off and headed to their first spots of the day. By the time the smoke clears this evening, we'll have 10 pros left to fish tomorrow, all chasing that $100,000 check and a huge jump start on the Angler of the Year points race. READ MORE »

Cox Leads by 5 pounds at Rayburn

Cox Leads by 5 pounds at Rayburn

Day two of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Sam Rayburn offered fairly tough conditions, but the cream of the crop still caught a lot of Texas bass. In first, John Cox stayed steady with an 18-pound, 12-ounce limit to get up to a 40-3. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 2 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 2 Coverage

After an overcast and calm start to the first day on Sam Rayburn, day two looks to be offering much different weather conditions. The forecast calls for sunny skies all day, though it should be as windy, or windier, than it was to close day one. That's potentially good news for a good portion of the field, as conditions should more closely resemble what anglers had to work with during practice. READ MORE »

Cox Cranks Up Lead on Rayburn

Cox Cranks Up Lead on Rayburn

In what had to be an ironic sight, while Cox watched others around him beat Sam Rayburn’s shallow brush, the DeBary, Fla., pro sacked up 21 pounds, 7 ounces and take the day one lead by focusing out deeper with a crankbait to kick off the new Pro Circuit season. READ MORE »

Cox Leads with 21 at Rayburn

Cox Leads with 21 at Rayburn

Day one of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Sam Rayburn provided plenty of fish, but none of the mega-bags that hit the scale in 2019. As is often the case, John Cox is in the lead after day one, with 21 pounds, 7 ounces. Behind him, are a strong collection of tour veterans, up-and-coming pros and local talent. In second with 21-4 is Greg Bohannan and close behind him is Darold Gleason with 21-3. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Day 1 Coverage

Sam Rayburn Day 1 Coverage

The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season is officially underway on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas. With the new season comes some fresh faces and familiar favorites, all of whom are looking to get a head start on the rest of the field in the 2020 Angler of the Year points standings. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Leaderboard - Sam Rayburn

FLW Marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the first stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. READ MORE »

Carper Wins Big on St. Johns River

Carper Wins Big on St. Johns River

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine continued competition Saturday at the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida – the first time that the Gator Division presented by A.R.E. has opened their season on the St. Johns River – and featured a major return on investment for the winner. READ MORE »

Lasyone Tops Record Field on Rayburn

Lasyone Tops Record Field on Rayburn

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine opened competition Saturday at the historic Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, and featured a record-setting field size – 230 boaters and 230 co-anglers. The season opener, the largest field in more than 20 years, took off with multiple anglers left on the waiting list.  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 »

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

The Coastal Carolina University duo of Max McQuaide of Tyngsborough, Mass., and Grant Tattersall, of Conway, S.C., won the YETI FLW College Fishing tournament at Lake Hartwell presented by Costa with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces. The victory earned the Chanticleers’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW media staff provides unofficial weight estimates for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw continues to roll on Cumberland. READ MORE »

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland was a bit tougher for some, given the post-frontal conditions featuring lighter winds, sun and cold temperatures. As projected, consistency has been the key and Andrew Upshaw continued to dial in his program adding 15 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one bag of 14-15 for a total of 30 pounds even. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Championship proved to be about as challenging as many anglers anticipated after a tough practice period, but it wasn’t all bad. Zimbabwe’s Roger Cousens certainly wasn’t complaining. His tournament-leading 17-pound, 2-ounce bag was exactly what he had hoped for as the tournament kicked off, and he’s gunning for another big stringer today. READ MORE »