MARBURY, Md. – For much of the field, the same old stuff worked at the T-H Marine Stop 5 on the Potomac River. Most of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals pros successfully seined grass beds, hit marshy banks or made targeted presentations to hard cover. Nothing about the Potomac fishing was or ever is groundbreaking. Still, a few interesting things did happen – we saw bream beds play more than ever, a couple of oddball baits shone, and the wacky rig was a killer, if you’re into that sort of thing.
So, here’s what got it done on the river.
Winning by more than 5 pounds, Nick Hatfield caught most of his weight from two sets of bream beds, one in Quantico Creek and one in Chicamuxen Creek. For the bream beds, a wacky rig was best, followed by a popper. Elsewhere, he used standard Potomac grass techniques.
Hatfield’s wacky of choice was a green pumpkin magic Yamamoto Senko with a No. 1 Hayabusa WRM929. He also mixed in a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer, a 3/8-ounce Hayabusa Lil’ Schmitty Swim Jig, a popping frog and a bone Lobina Rio Rico. He used Doomsday rods for all of his techniques, opting for a 7-foot, medium-heavy model for the wacky rig.
Per usual, Cody Meyer did not win the tournament. Also per usual, the Western pro knocked it out of the park on the Potomac.
Fishing a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer with a Yamamoto Zako trailer was the main deal, with a wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko to follow it up. Meyer used Daiwa Tatula Elite rods and reels for all his presentations.
“I never one time, this whole week, in practice or the tournament, looked at what the tide was going to do,” Meyer said. “I just went out and fished community holes, and tried to figure them out at high and low tide and find the sweet spots. Today was definitely my best day, I just caught a ton of keepers.”
One of the best with a Florida address at the local level in recent years, Eric Panzironi has looked good on the national level as well, and is now sitting at 24th in the standings. Fishing in Potomac Creek, Panzironi did well the first two days, and dropped the hammer with 18-10 on Day 3.
“I found a couple stretches of grass where I just kept my head down and grinded it out,” Panzironi said. “I was catching a decent one every day. This was my first time here, I searched around, I didn’t find a bunch of grass that I was looking for, but I finally found a spot down south that had a bunch of lanes in the grass and good milfoil, and they were really there in practice.”
Wyatt Frankens has had a very up-and-down rookie campaign on the Invitationals, with two cuts to his name, as well as three finishes below 90th. So, knocking out a Top 10 felt pretty good, despite having what he considered to be a pretty bad practice.
“My practice was absolutely terrible, so I thought,” said the Texas rookie. “I had a decent showing here in a college national championship – I got the tide wrong on Day 1, and then had a really good Day 2 down at the mouth of Aquia. For this, I had a bad practice, but I did get a few good bites at the mouth of Aquia on Day 1, so I decided to go lock it in on Day 1. I fished a 300-yard stretch, and I had three waypoints on this stretch where I got bit. On Day 1, I tried to fish the whole stretch again, thinking there were fish all up and down the stretch. That wasn’t the case at all – there were only fish on those three waypoints.”
On Day 2 and Day 3, Frankens focused in on those sweet spots to up his weight, and expanded as well, plucking a key 4-pounder from a dock. For baits, Frankens mostly used a 6th Sense Whale with a 1/4-ounce hook on high tide, and a weightless 6th Sense Divine Shakey Worm in cosmic black when the tide was dropping. He threw all his baits on 6th Sense rods.
Leading after Day 2, Martin Villa certainly threatened for the win, but his lack of success on high tide was the killer. With a low outgoing tide, he could call his shots on current-swept hard cover. At high tide, he struggled to seine fish from the grass.
For baits, Villa used a wacky-rigged finesse worm, a Texas-rigged Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm and a black and blue Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer with a Venture Lures Twin Tail Grub trailer. He fished all his baits on Douglas rods.
Blake Hall led on Day 1 and stayed steady with a grass-focused approach the entire time.
“I spent probably about a third of my time in Mattawoman, and the rest of my time in Aquia,” he said. “It was the areas, just fishing thorough, waiting for the bite.”
For his baits, he wound a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer with a Yamamoto Zako or a Yamamoto Speed Senko (blue with large black flake) on a 3/16-ounce Texas rig. He used Falcon rods and P-Line fluorocarbon for all his presentations.
One of the hottest things to come out of California in recent years, Andrew Loberg has had a brutal year on the Invitationals, with four triple-digit finishes on his résumé. He turned it around in style at the Potomac, charging up the leaderboard with mid-teens bags on the final two days.
“I found a little crankbait deal in the morning, with the water coming in,” he said. “Each day I had a longer tide to run it for – I was able to capitalize on that incoming. Then I threw the swimbait on some docks, and then went to the grass and slowly upgraded.”
Cranking, Loberg went with a craw-colored Lucky Craft 1.5. His swimbait was a Toxic Baits Whippersnapper, and he fished grass with a worm and a frog for the most part.
Keith Carson notched his second Top 10 of the season and moved up to third in the Angler of the Year race with a great showing at the Potomac.
His primary bait was a Berkely Frittside 5, which he got his mornings going with.
“I was cranking the rocks at the mouth of Mattawoman and Leesylvania,” Carson said. “I would go catch them quick, and then go flip the pads in Mattawoman and Chicamuxen.”
“I was just fishing what happened to be in front of me, but I noticed in the pads it was better the lower it got,” he said. “If it was too high, they could be anywhere. When it was higher, I flipped in the middle of the pads, so, it did make a difference, but I still caught them on all the tides.”
To the surprise of nobody, Bryan Schmitt was in the mix on the final day. Committing to a few stretches of grass, the tidal stick did his best work with a SPRO Bronzeye Frog and a Missile Baits D Bomb.
“I really wanted topwater to work, and I flipped around a Missile Baits Quiver Worm, but the bulk of it was on a topwater frog and the D Bomb,” he said. “And a couple on the ChatterBait too, of course.”
Schmitt entered the event with no points on the line, and fished for a win the entire time.
“It’s been a good week, just wasn’t a great week,” he said. “Day 1, we lost two really big ones. Today, we just didn’t have the opportunity. I was actually really excited for today, after what I saw yesterday, but the wind changed and the water didn’t go out, it changed my whole bite.”
Always one to watch when the fishing gets a little grimy, Ohio pro Kyle Weisenburger edged out a Top 10 with a few of his favorite techniques.
His best bait on the week was a white Venom Lures Trac-Rite Buzzbait, with his follow-up bait being a Zoom Z Hog.
“I ran up in a creek and put the trolling motor down,” Weisenburger said. “I just ran the tide up and down, and caught almost all my quality fish on the buzzbait. When the tide would get low enough, I’d start flipping pads. The last 30 minutes each day, I was able to generate a few bites flipping any cover I could find.”