Pundits’ Playoffs: Potomac River - Major League Fishing

Pundits’ Playoffs: Potomac River

June 20, 2005 • MLF • Archives

Welcome to the playoff round of Pundits’ Picks. Our five-tournament regular season is over, the pundits have been ranked – one through six in both the Pro and Staff divisions – and are now facing off in mano a mano battle – pro vs. staff – at the Potomac River. The six winners here will advance to compete in next month’s Pundit Championship. The six losers have a one-way ticket out of Punditville waiting for them and will watch from the sidelines at Lake Hamilton.

Tournament site

The Potomac River will be kind of a crapshoot in terms of fantasy fishing. It’s the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s first visit there, and the scuttlebutt is that anglers are catching them every which way on the river system. One decisive factor will be the tides. Anglers comfortable with current and moving water should have the upper hand. If you’re looking at past tournaments for cues on your picks, it might not hurt to take a look at tidal-water venues like Mobile Bay and the James River. A lot of top names from those events are popping up as ones to watch this week. When in doubt, go with the locals; the Virginians, in theory, should put on a fishing clinic at the Potomac, particularly since it’s a new fishery on tour. Keep in mind, however, that the river has a storied past as a tournament venue – just not yet for the FLW Tour – so it’s not exactly an unknown quantity for many of these guys. Watch out for the wily veterans – no matter where they come from – especially those who’ve done well here before.

Hot picks

Despite the new venue, there are some definite odds favorites coming out of Punditville for the Potomac. Dave Lefebre, thirsty for that Angler of the Year title, has the pundits convinced that he’ll make a huge push this week. He earned picks from five of the six pro pundits and four of the six staffers, for a leading total of nine votes. The AOY points leader, however, is right behind him as he heads to his home waters for this event. J.T. Kenney took four pro picks and four staff picks, totaling eight. Next up is tidal-water bandit David Dudley, who earned five pro picks and one staff pick, for a total of six. Greg Hackney was next with four total picks, two from the pros and two from the staff. Coming in with three picks apiece were Jason Kilpatrick (two staff, one pro), Toshinari Namiki (three staff) and Clark Wendlandt (three pros). In the honorable mention category with two votes each are Chris Daves, Anthony Gagliardi, Pete Gluszek, Takahiro Omori and Jacob Powroznik.

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Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop No. 6

Chevy Open

Potomac River, La Plata, Md.

June 22-25

Mark Zona
EverStart pro
Sturgis, Mich.

Record: 3-2 (No.1 seed)
Points: 3,519

EverStart pro Mark Zona
VS.
Keith Lebowitz
Co-host
“FLW Outdoors” on FSN

Record: 1-4 (No.6 seed)
Points: 3,215

1) GREG HACKNEY .I think this guy is J.T.’s main threat for the AOY title, even though he’s never fished the Potomac before. With jig in hand, he’ll be as dominant as ever.
2) DAVE LEFEBRE .If not for that nasty Beaver tournament, D.L. would be having a huge year. Don’t look for that slight hiccup to slow him down.
3) J T KENNEY .Everyone will pick him, so I’m just laying up. He has way too much knowledge on this river.
4) CHIP HARRISON .He’s having one of his best years on tour and has performed well on this body of water.
5) DAVID DUDLEY .Living so close to the Potomac, he’s had plenty of time to set the hook on other pros’ fish during practice, but he’ll leave the good stuff alone.
1) J T KENNEY .Yes, this is his home lake. Yes, he’s the leader in the point standings right now. Yes, there’s more pressure on him than anybody else in the field. But J.T. has proven with his results this year that he can handle it. I see the 2005 AOY also winning this event, capping a spectacular season. Take that, Zona!
2) GREG HACKNEY .Who said it was going to be easy for J.T.? Hackney will do all he can to put the pressure on Kenney for the AOY title, but he will be the bridesmaid for the second year in a row. Still, you’ve got to hand it to the Hack Attack; he continues to prove that there is no other angler in the world who has been more consistent over the last two years than Greg Hackney.
3) TOSHINARI NAMIKI .With three top-10s, he’ll also give Kenney a run for the AOY crown. Namiki has been a monster on the water this season. He’s landed some huge fish in all of his top-10s, and I predict the Snickers Big Bass will come out of his boat.
4) JASON KILPATRICK .I wouldn’t have picked him in this tournament except for the fact that he thinks I jinx him when I see that Lawry’s boat on the water. He’s also superstitious about me picking him. So to take a cheap-shot jab: Kilpatrick is in my top five again. By the way, he’s had a nice run to end the season, and the Lawry’s pro looks to make it back to the championship.
5) BOBBY LANE .It would be a shame if the Rookie of the Year didn’t end the season on a high note heading to the FLW Championship. He set – only to be equaled by Alvin Shaw – the FLW Tour record for consecutive top-10s at three, and he would love a fourth to put a capper on the regular season.
Randy Blaukat
FLW pro
Lamar, Mo.

Record: 3-2 (No.2)
Points: 3,510

FLW pro Randy Blaukat
VS.
FLW writer Jeff Schroeder Jeff Schroeder
Editor
FLWOutdoors.com

Record: 2-3 (No.5)
Points: 3,189

1) DANNY CORREIA .Danny probably has more days on the Potomac than any other competitor in the field, and he is on the bubble for the championship. Growing up in the Northeast, he is a master at tidewater fishing. Very rarely will an outsider with little tide knowledge do well here, so look for tide experience to be the deciding factor.
2) DAVID DUDLEY .David is a seasoned veteran of tournament competition on the Potomac. His ability to junk-fish will serve him well here. He will catch one off a rock pile, one off a grass bed, one off a piling, one off an old tire (the Potomac has bass, but plenty of trash and other stuff in there to go with them), then will finish out his limit with one busting shad.
3) RANDY BLAUKAT .I need a top-35 here to qualify for the championship, so I’ll be on the water a lot. Although not the most visually appealing waterway, I’ve had good success in past tournaments here, and it fishes to several of my strengths. There is a lot on the line for many of us here.
4) LEE BAILEY JR .Like Correia, Lee has a lot of experience on the river and a good understanding of tidewater bass since he has fished many of the Northeast’s tidal fisheries. I don’t think anyone can underestimate the importance of tidal experience for this event. It is something that takes years to learn, unlike many other techniques in the sport.
5) DAVE LEFEBRE .Dave has been fishing way too well not to include him. If he can develop an understanding of the tides, this river will suit his style of fishing. From my experience, his consistency this year combined with a lack of really high finishes will lead to one of two paths: a sudden streak of top-10s and wins, or the development of a slump. It will be interesting to see what unfolds.
1) PETE GLUSZEK .Even though this is his first FLW tournament, I have a feeling about Gluszek at the Potomac, especially after his run at Kerr Lake a couple weeks ago. Nothing scientific here, just pure premonition about the pro’s pro out of New Jersey.
2) CHRIS DAVES .It might seem foolish to pick two first-time FLW entrants in the top two positions, but I would argue otherwise. Neither Daves nor Gluszek have ever fished an FLW before, but both decided to take a pot shot at the Potomac. One can only assume there must be a reason for that. That, combined with his respective flourish at the EverStart Northeast opener, tells me that Daves is in it to win it. Give him a river fishery along the Eastern Seaboard, and I say Woo’s son gets it done.
3) ART FERGUSON III .An unsettling pick here – especially in the playoff round – given his tendency to hero or zero in his first full FLW season. But about the only thing scarier is the monstrous size of the fish that Art catches from time to time, particularly now that the tour’s heading northward for the summer.
4) DAVE LEFEBRE .He’s closer to home, he’s good at this river stuff, and I haven’t seen someone more rabidly determined to win AOY since Wendlandt’s wheels came off at the beginning of the season. Lefebre’s ranked sixth. If you asked him, I’m betting he could tell you off the top of his head exactly how many points he needs to make up on the leader.
5) J T KENNEY .Unfortunately for Dave, he’s going to lose this time. Kenney’s home, and by most accounts he’s feeling relaxed. He top-fives and clinches 2005 AOY at the Potomac.
Carl Svebek
FLW pro
Siloam Springs, Ark.

Record: 3-2 (No.3)
Points: 3,265

FLW pro Carl Svebek III
VS.
FLW writer Gary Mortenson Gary Mortenson
Editor
FLWOutdoors.com

Record: 3-2 (No.4)
Points: 3,300

1) CLARK WENDLANDT .Clark has stayed on my list this year despite his troubles. If there is anyone I want to win this – besides me – it would have to be Clark. He needs to end this season on a positive note and then put it behind him. We all know he is a world-class fisherman who is long overdue. Go get `em, Clean.
2) J T KENNEY .You’ve got to go with the No.1 guy. Plus, with the background he has on the Potomac, he has to be on everyone’s list. In the June BFL tournaments on the Potomac, he has had two top-10s in recent years. He definitely has something positive going and no doubt will continue his streak with a top finish.
3) TAKAHIRO OMORI .Sitting pretty for the championship, look for a strong finish from Takahiro. He’s one of the top fishermen in the country and is due for a win. He always puts in the time on the water, and that’s why he’s consistent.
4) DAVID DUDLEY .My fellow Castrol pro needs a good tournament, and the Potomac is one of his home lakes. It has treated him well.
5) MIKE SURMAN .Another Castrol pro, he is due for a good tournament and likes to swing for the fences. He’s sitting in 106th place in the standings, so he can take whatever chances he wants to score the big win. There’s no pressure; he can relax and fish. He’ll give it all he’s got and go home a winner.
1) DAVE LEFEBRE .Still has an outside shot at the 2005 FLW Tour Angler of the Year crown, so motivation shouldn’t be a problem. In addition, Lefebre has a good deal of experience fishing the Potomac on the BASS tour and has done well there in the past. In short, I’m rolling the dice and putting my money on the Keebler Kid.
2) DAVID DUDLEY .Dudley is in danger of missing the FLW Tour Championship for the first time in recent memory. Currently in 55th place in the AOY standings, Dudley must move up seven places to qualify for the championship. A great river fisherman, Dudley does his best when big things are on the line. I don’t doubt for a minute he’ll come through on the Potomac.
3) MICHAEL IACONELLI .As a fellow New Jersey native, how can I not root for Iaconelli? However, that being said, even Iaconelli would admit to having an off year on the FLW Tour. Although this is a dangerous pick, Iaconelli could be equally dangerous to his fellow anglers on the Potomac, a body of water he knows very well. In short, Iaconelli’s track record on the Potomac warrants a spot on this list.
4) BRENT CHAPMAN .Arguably one of the most underrated anglers on the tour, Chapman has been nothing but consistently good over the past few years. Throw in a great track record on the Potomac and you have an angler worthy of top-five consideration.
5) TAKAHIRO OMORI .For my fifth pick, I’m going with yet another experienced angler on the Potomac. Omori has placed consistently in the top 20 on the Potomac on the BASS trail and I see him outfishing the majority of the competition. While the smart money says to go with J.T. Kenney for this pick, I’m going to buck the trend and go with my gut.
Rob Newell
Contributing editor
FLW Outdoors

Record: 3-2 (No.1)
Points: 3,756

FLW writer Rob Newell
VS.
FLW pro David Dudley David Dudley
FLW pro
Lynchburg, Va.

Record: 1-4 (No.6)
Points: 3,313

1) J T KENNEY .Because he is leading the 2005 Angler of the Year race going into the Potomac River.
2) ANTHONY GAGLIARDI .Because he is second in AOY points.
3) GREG HACKNEY .Because he is third in the … hold on. There looks to be some kind of pattern developing here.
4) TOSHINARI NAMIKI .Fourth in AOY points. Coincidence? I think not.
5) MATT HERREN .Need I say more?
1) DAVID DUDLEY .I like rivers and tidal waters. I’ve never picked myself to win before – I normally use the fifth spot – so I’m feeling very confident. I think I’ve got something figured out.
2) DAVE LEFEBRE .He knows the Potomac waters. I don’t know if you could call him a local pro, but he always does very well here.
3) JACOB POWROZNIK .He’s a local and he’ll catch them.
4) J T KENNEY .Why not? He’s guided here in the past, and it’s his home water, so he knows it. He fishes the same areas no matter what year it is, so he really knows it.
5) CHRIS DAVES .This is my dark horse. He’s another local and a very good tidal-water fisherman. This pick was a toss-up between Chris and David Fritts, another dark horse if he ends up fishing this tournament. You watch, at this place Fritts always fishes up toward the Washington D.C. area, deep-cranking. This year, there’s no grass up toward D.C., so all those fish up there are on ledges and shell beds. With no grass, Fritts would kick some butt.
Chris Eubanks
Editor
FLW Outdoors

Record: 3-2 (No.2)
Points: 3,459

FLW editor Chris Eubanks
VS.
FLW pro Clark Wendlandt Clark Wendlandt
FLW pro
Cedar Park, Texas

Record: 2-3 (No.5)
Points: 3,410

1) PETE GLUSZEK .Gluszek is one of the most successful professional anglers in the history of the Potomac River. He’s from New Jersey – not too far away – and is a serious threat on any lake or river in the region. If you look at Gluszek’s Potomac history, you’ll find he has numerous top-20 finishes.
2) TOSHINARI NAMIKI .I’m not picking Namiki because he’s had a great year, I’m selecting Toshi because he has a good history on the Potomac. Although I think it’s unlikely that he’ll make another top-10, Namiki’s past performance on the river forced me to include his name on the list.
3) DAVE LEFEBRE .Although relatively new to the professional tournament scene, Lefebre has done will in several Bassmaster Opens on the Potomac River in recent years. He’s versatile and familiar with the river, so that equals success according to my formula.
4) BERNIE SCHULTZ .This pick might seem shocking, but after looking at Potomac River tournament results from 1992 to the present, Bernie’s name kept coming up in the top 20. He may be past his prime, but if he’s got one more good finish left in him, this is the event.
5) PAUL ELIAS .As with Schultz, Elias has a strong history on the river. He has fished the river countless times over the past 20 years. Plus, Elias hasn’t made the top 10 since 2003. I think he’s due.
1) DAVE LEFEBRE .Dave has been fishing well all year, and he does very well at the Potomac. He also still has a shot at Angler of the Year.
2) JASON KILPATRICK .Jason is from the Mobile area and understands tidal water. He should fare well here.
3) DAVID DUDLEY .David also understands tidal water very well.
4) RAY SCHEIDE .This pick is just a feeling I have. Ray has been fishing well, and I look for him to do well.
5) CLARK WENDLANDT .No words are needed here, other than I cannot quit picking myself now. This pick will lead to Eubanks’ demise.
Patrick Baker
Editor
FLWOutdoors.com

Record: 3-2 (No.3)
Points: 3,426

FLW writer Patrick Baker
VS.
FLW pro Dave Lefebre Dave Lefebre
FLW pro
Erie, Pa.

Record: 3-2 (No.4)
Points: 3,197

1) JACOB POWROZNIK .Notice that four out of 10 of this Virginian’s top-10 FLW Outdoors finishes have happened on rivers – including two BFLs on the Potomac. I couldn’t find any other competing pro with that kind of track record.
2) JASON KILPATRICK .This Southern man seems to be hit-or-miss in FLW Tour competition. Currently ranked 40th in the standings, I’m wagering he’ll be in home-run mode at the Potomac to ensure a championship berth.
3) DAVE LEFEBRE .As my matchup opponent, I’d be a fool not to pick Lefebre and take the push, unless he bucks a season-long trend and actually doesn’t pick himself. Still, I look for this Pennsylvanian to do well in Maryland, which ups the comfort factor on this pick.
4) CRAIG POWERS .This Tennessean is on fire in the EverStart Series, having just logged back-to-back wins, and his powers frequently peak when river fishing.
5) J T KENNEY .It’s his home state, and he’s the man to beat right now on the FLW Tour. This should be a sure-fire choice.
1) ANTHONY GAGLIARDI .He’s in second place in the season standings with only the Potomac to go. No pressure? Yeah, right. A.G. is obviously one of the best anglers on tour this year, and the pressure will not affect him. I predict that he’ll finish in the top 10 and claim 2005 Angler of the Year.
2) GREG HACKNEY .He’s known as a river rat. (I read it right here on FLWOutdoors.com.) The Potomac can be very difficult to get a grip on, even for some very good fishermen; however, I think Greg will really like it here and will find something big to flip into the boat somewhere. If the inconsistent Potomac tides don’t screw him up, he’ll blast ’em.
3) J T KENNEY .The boy lives here. He’s had some good performances on the Potomac and a few really bad ones, but with this much on the line, he’ll probably play it safe and get the job done. I think J.T. will do well in his backyard if he doesn’t crack under the pressure … the intense pressure … the unbelievably extreme pressure. Don’t let it get to you, J.T.
4) CLARK WENDLANDT .He’s due, he’s been prefishing for 10 days, and he’s starving. Maybe the northern bass will show him some love.
5) DAVE LEFEBRE .I’m more comfortable on the Potomac than anywhere I’ve ever fished. I really want Angler of the Year, but I realize that I need a top-10 and some help from my first three picks plus a couple others to get `er done. I’m going there with an all-or-nothing attitude. I’ve got a championship berth clinched, which eliminates a bunch of pressure. With nothing to lose, it’s going to be a great close-out to the season. I’m fired up!

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