With the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals season heading more northward for the summer, we’re getting away from LiveScope and bedding bass and into a few old-school events. With the Potomac River and the Mississippi River on deck to finish things out, it should give some different anglers an opportunity to fish in their wheelhouse. Plus, while the season has already been very entertaining, it should stay fun, with topwaters, frogs and lots of grass and tight cover coming into play.
For T-H Marine Stop 5 at the Potomac, there are a few very obvious anglers that will likely be on most every roster. But, picking up ounces in the middle will be key. And as has been the case for most of the Invitationals season, it’s not at all hard to find interesting anglers below 40th in the points.
For Group A, I went with Cody Meyer, Ron Nelson, Michael Neal, Nick Hatfield and Nick LeBrun. All of them have seen a lot of success on the Potomac over the years, and none of the picks feel like a stretch at all. Still, I’ll dip into the reasoning a little more below.
The West Coast finesse wizard and spotted bass king isn’t supposed to excel in the dirty tidal waters of Virginia and Maryland. But he does, it’s just a fact. In his time on the Pro Circuit and FLW Tour, Meyer’s worst finish there is 66th, with a 29th and two Top 10s to go with it. A lot of times, Meyer does well winding around a ChatterBait and fishing like one does at the Potomac. But, as a western angler, I suspect he’s got a bit of an edge when it comes to pressured fish at times and doesn’t mind pulling out a little finesse. However it happens, I’m pretty much planning on Meyer fishing Day 3.
If he wants to make the BPT this year, Hatfield likely needs to knock out a pair of Top 10s to finish the season. As a firm Hatfield believer, I’m locking him on the roster for mojo, but I’m not for sure recommending everyone else do the same. Hatfield has fished two Toyota Series events on the Potomac, finishing 40th and fourth, once in September and once in June. So, he knows the place pretty well now, and he’s also proven a pretty high level of adaptability, catching fish on vibrating jigs, topwaters and a few other things.
A dangerous Potomac local headlines Group B, but there are all sorts of good options aside from Bryan Schmitt. Obviously, Schmitt is on the squad – behind him, I chose Matthew Stefan, Grae Buck, Keith Carson and Cody Pike.
The winningest angler of all-time at the Toyota Series level, Schmitt is in my estimation the best tidal angler east of the Mississippi. Three of his 12 career wins with MLF/FLW have come on the Potomac River, and the BASS Elite Series pro won’t be rusty, as he’s coming off a cut-making performance at the Sabine River. In the Northern Division, Schmitt’s lowest finish ever at the Potomac is 71st, which came in 2007, his second worst is 34th, which he notched in 2017.
Running second in the Angler of the Year race, Stefan has been fishing super well this year. It’s for that reason that he’s on the squad, as his previous performances on the Potomac just don’t make sense. His finishes over the years there are not sterling: 129th in 2012, 46th in 2015, 127th in 2017 and 104th in 2021. None of it really adds up, as Stefan is great in grass, great in current and a hammer on the Mississippi River, which seems to translate well for anglers like Schmitt and Tom Monsoor.
So, here’s hoping that this is the year Stefan figures it out. It certainly should be.
There are a bunch of interesting anglers in this event that are outside of the thick of the Angler of the Year race or simply jackpotting it. John Duarte, Wayne Vaughan, Jared McMillan and Matt Becker are probably the most interesting names in Group A. In Group B, it’s Schmitt obviously, plus Joseph Thompson, Brett Hite and Spencer Shuffield. Between local talent and high-level anglers that have proven history on the Potomac, there are no shortage of options for Fantasy Fishing players in this event.