The first two days of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American on the Potomac River were all about Joseph Thompson, but Brennon McCord mounted a furious comeback on the final day to overtake the Pennsylvania boater and earn a $100,000 check and a berth in the 2019 FLW Cup and the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship.
After putting together bags of 13-11 and 15-3, respectively, on the first two days of the tournament, which was presented by General Tire, McCord brought a limit of 16-3 to the weigh-in stage on day three to win the All-American at just 22 years old.
“It means a lot,” says McCord of the win. “I’ve grown up listening to my dad and my grandpa talk about this tournament – how they always wanted to make it here and never did. My dad fell short a couple times making it, so it’s an amazing feeling to win.”
In five years of fishing the Illini Division as a boater, McCord has banked four top-10 finishes. Add in his third-place finish in the Regional on Lake Chickamauga last fall, and he’s got a serious resume pretty early in his career. When asked about his aspirations to take it to the next level, McCord admits he’s thinking about it.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” says McCord of a potential pro career. “My dad started me fishing, and I won my first tournament with him when I was 8 years old, but I’ve never had the opportunity. I’m not the richest folk, but if everything lined up right I’d love to try.”
With $100,000 in winnings and a spot in the FLW Cup and the Costa FLW Series Championship coming up, McCord might be well positioned to give it a go.
How he won
Though the top 10 anglers spread out all around the river, from Aquia to Washington, D.C., McCord elected to stay right in Mattawoman Creek.
“I found my main spot in practice, and I’ve done a bunch of research, and mainly the bigger fish come out of Mattawoman,” says McCord. “So, I just picked this area apart to try to find a sweet spot.”
As it turned out, McCord found more than one sweet spot. On day one, he did most of his damage way in the back of the creek on a small patch of milfoil in 5 feet of water that was barely the size of a boat. On day two, McCord tapped some typical Potomac grass behind an island in Mattawoman. On day three, his spots from the first two days each produced, but he added something special in as well.
Fishing some pads adjacent to deeper water further back in the creek, McCord put three big ones in the boat in short order.
“I haven’t caught a fish out of the pads in the tournament until today, until I pulled back into that pocket,” McCord admits. “I couldn’t catch them out of the pads that were laid over; I was catching them out of the pads that were standing, with shade on them. I’d skip my ChatterBait into the pads, and every bite I got, as soon as I’d skip it in there I’d click my reel and they’d be on.
“I think I just timed it right with the tide. It had the baitfish pushed up in the pads, and they were eating.”
For baits, McCord leaned hard on a 3/8-ounce Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer in spot remover and black and blue. He trailered it with either a Strike King Rage Tail Menace Grubor a Zoom Z-Hog Jr.matched to the skirt. McCord also flipped a blacklight-colored Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver on a 5/16-ounce weight and mixed in a wacky rig a bit as well.
If any of it hadn’t worked, be it the grass, the sneaky milfoil patch or the pads, McCord may not have won, but everything clicked on that final day.
Top 10 boaters
1. Brennon McCord – West Frankfort, Ill. – 45-11 (15) – $100,000
2. Joseph Thompson – Coatesville, Pa. – 44-7 (15) – $20,000
3. Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 42-2 (15) – $28,000
4. Chris Martinkovic – Hamilton, Ohio – 41-7 (15) – $21,000
5. Troy Morrow — Eastanollee, Ga. – 40-13 (15) – $19,000
6. Doug Ruster – New Palestine, Ind. – 39-13 (14) – $17,000
7. Robert Walser – Lexington, N.C. – 39-11 (15) – $17,000
8. Seth Davis – Harrison, Tenn. – 39-2 (15) – $10,000
9. Ronnie Baker – Providence Forge, Va. – 35-2 (13) – $9,000
10. Moo Bae – West Friendship, Md. – 34-13 (13) – $11,000
In addition to their other prizes, the highest finisher from each BFL Regional and the Wild Card also qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Below are the anglers, their Regional location and their finish in the All-American.
1. Brennon McCord – Lake Chickamauga
2. Joseph Thompson – Chesapeake Bay
3. Bryan New – Lake Norman
5. Troy Morrow – St. Johns River
6. Doug Ruster – Kentucky Lake
12. Toby Corn – Wild Card
20. Dennis Berhorst – Lake of the Ozarks