All-American Underway on the Potomac - Major League Fishing

All-American Underway on the Potomac

The T-H Marine Bass Fishing League stars are ready to rock
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May 30, 2019 • Jody White • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Winning the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American is a lifetime accomplishment, and this week, 49 boaters and co-anglers will have the chance to do it on the Potomac River. Presented by General Tire, the crowning event of the BFL season runs May 30 through June 1, and the winner on the boater side will walk away with $120,000 and a trip to the FLW Cup. 

Today’s coverage will feature a live leaderboard and a midday update. Things get really fun Friday and Saturday, with FLW Live running from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET each day, in addition to midday updates and the live leaderboard. 


About the fishery 

The Potomac isn’t exactly a mysterious tournament fishery, as countless big tournaments have gone down on the tidal river shared between Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Running roughly north to south into the Chesapeake Bay, it’s a tidal river that usually fluctuates a couple feet per day. 

The fishing is almost always shallow, either in the grass and pads or around hard cover like rock and wood. Though there are some sections of the main river that really play, the bulk of the damage tends to be done in the creeks (or the mouths of them), with some hot creek arms attracting a ton of fishing pressure. 


Current conditions 

Going into the All-American, the main change to the river is a lack of grass. In recent years, the river was very grassy, and the fishing was getting better and better, with multiple 20-pound bags hitting the scale in every team tournament. 

Though the bass are still there, the fishing hasn’t been as good this year. Everyone is still going to catch a bunch of fish, but we may not see the top-end bags we’ve come to expect from the fishery. Of course, anglers in the All-American are really good, and from the scuttlebutt of practice, it seems like things may be looking up. 

As for actual water conditions, the lack of grass isn’t really changing much. The water clarity throughout the river is pretty good, and the water temperature is in the upper 70s and low 80s. Unless there are some extreme stragglers, pretty much every bass in the river should be postspawn by now. 


Tactics in play 

The Potomac is defined by the shallow bite, so you can expect to see everything under the sun that works shallow work this week. Historically, swim jigs, frogs and the like get a lot of play in the grass. With less grass, crankbaits and topwaters may see more action than usual. Soft plastics always do well, and you particularly can’t deny finesse – many a Potomac derby has been won on a Senko or a drop-shot. 


Critical factors 

  • The tide – It’s a factor in every Potomac tournament, but playing the tide correctly is essential to winning. Sometimes that means sitting in just a couple areas the entire day, and sometimes that means “running the tide” and moving up and down the river to capitalize on a bite window. Running the tide is typically pretty risky for a non-local, but there are anglers in the field skilled enough to do it. 
  • Crowding – With less than 50 boats, this should be an ideal Potomac tournament, but it’s still worth mentioning that crowds can be an issue. In a lot of the historic grass flats, it’s pretty easy to end up fishing right along with someone. Too much pressure on one area could dampen one’s chances of winning. 
  • Making adjustments – With less grass than normal, there’s a good chance this tournament will play out in slightly unexpected ways. If a few anglers figure out something special, they could be primed to do damage. 


Bryan New

Dock talk 

Over a few days of talking with the anglers, the general consensus is that the fishing should be pretty good. A number of anglers feel downright confident in 15 pounds being easy, and there was at least one 6-pounder caught on the official practice day. 

Joseph Thompson, perhaps the definitive local favorite, believes that you’ll need around 47 pounds to win, which is a bit more than 15 1/2 pounds per day. 

“I think I’ll be happy with 15 pounds, literally, and it may fish tougher than it looks,” says Moo Bae, one of the tournament’s locals. “Places that I used to catch fish aren’t there. It’s very specific places that I’m catching them on it, and they’re not community holes.”

Though he’s very unwilling to pick himself to win, Bryan New was certainly keyed up before the start of practice. 

“I feel like the fishing is going to be extremely good, at least numbers-wise,” says New. “And obviously there’s going to be some big bags caught, too.”

Overall, the non-locals seem to be more optimistic, with Keith Hays figuring that 17 pounds a day is well in play and a number of others displaying a lot of quiet confidence. 


Tournament Details

Dates: May 30 – June 1

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 determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:00 a.m. ET

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

Weigh-In Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Smallwood State Park, 2750 Sweden Point Rd., Marbury, Md.

Complete details