Williams leads big charge at the Potomac - Major League Fishing

Williams leads big charge at the Potomac

Near-record weights, AOY drama highlight Chevy Open day one
Image for Williams leads big charge at the Potomac
Pro Jerry Williams leads the pack with a hefty 20-pound, 4-ounce limit on day one. Photo by Jennifer Simmons. Angler: Jerry Williams.
June 22, 2005 • Jeff Schroeder • Archives

LA PLATA, Md. – Situated on the border between Maryland and Virginia, the Potomac River sort of walks a fine line: Is it a Northern or a Southern fishery? Wednesday, on opening day of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s Chevy Open, the Potomac behaved in a decidedly Northern fashion by coughing up limits to 90 percent of the Pro Division and nearly half of the Co-angler Division.

Out of each 200-angler field, the pros caught 180 five-bass limits and the co-anglers 95 of them. Numbers like that are downright Champlainesque. In fact, the pros notched their heaviest one-day weight total of the year as a group – 2,335 pounds, 2 ounces – which is third only to day one at Lake Champlain in 2004 and 2002 as the heaviest total on the FLW record. The limits reached all the way down to 158th place today at the Potomac, and every single pro weighed in at least two bass.

With so many limits, competition is tight after the first day, similar to what occurs at Champlain tournaments. However, unlike the bass Mecca of upstate New York, the fishing here is decidedly unique to the Potomac.

Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark., led the charge for the pros with the only sack over 20 pounds. His five fish weighed in at 20-4.

“The fishing conditions on this thing, it’s about the tidal water. You’ve got to figure that out,” Williams said. “When I went out this morning, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do yet. But once I figured out what was going on with the tides, then it was easy.”

It took him a few early stops in the morning, but Williams dialed in the bite that everybody was banking on today: schools of bass in the shallow grass. He found the fish would bite best on the falling tide in very shallow, grassy areas. He said he threw a jig almost exclusively in “exactly 2.2 feet” of water and caught an enormous number of fish.

“I don’t know (how many), honestly,” Williams said. “Probably 30 or 40 fish.”

“He caught fish everywhere we went,” said Williams’ wide-eyed co-angler partner, Walter Hairston Jr. “He was amazing.”

“I caught five out of one spot that weighed about 18 pounds, then I just kept culling, culling, culling,” said Williams, whose kicker fish weighed 5-10. “It was just about finding a grass flat where they’d be bunched up.”

Pro Todd Faircloth placed second with a weight of 18-15 on day one of the Chevy Open.Faircloth second

With 10 keepers, Todd Faircloth caught a lot fewer bass than Williams, but he slid into second place behind the pro leader with a five-bass weight of 18 pounds, 15 ounces.

“I caught a limit by 9:15,” Faircloth said. “I didn’t get a whole lot of bites, but when I got one, it was a good one.”

Like Williams, Faircloth had been on a jig bite prior to the tournament. As competition began today, however, he found the jig much less effective, for whatever reason.

“I found these fish on a jig in practice, but I just couldn’t get bit anymore,” he said.

Instead, he switched to a Yamamoto Senko and ran it threw the shallow grass, where he caught the bulk of his fish. He also took advantage of a topwater bite that emerged as a player among many leaders Wednesday. Clouds and some sporadic rain later in the morning had anglers up and down the Potomac reaching for their topwater baits.

“People might not think it’s possible, but I caught my two biggest ones on a topwater at the top of the day when there were no clouds,” Faircloth said. “The fishing here is just good. I was really impressed by it when I came up here in practice. This place is just full of fish.”

Smiling Michael Iaconelli gears up for FLW action Wednesday morning at the Potomac.Ike third

Fresh off a strong showing at the BASS E50 in Wisconsin last week, Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., stayed hot and claimed the third spot for the pros on opening day at the Potomac. He caught a limit weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces.

“I only had a day and a half of practice here, so I spent it trying to judge the river conditions,” he said. “I used my experience from my days in Red Man (now Wal-Mart BFL) tournaments here to figure out what to do. I used a combination of fishing wood and grass to catch about 20 keepers, and I honestly didn’t expect to do this well. I just basically did a lot of running and gunning.”

Greg Hackney inches closer to an Angler of the Year title with a third-place showing on day one.Hackney fourth, makes statement in AOY race

Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., weighed in a limit worth 18 pounds, 4 ounces and claimed the fourth spot in the Pro Division.

“I grew up fishing a place that looks just like this. It’s a river system that has a lot of milfoil,” Hackney said. “The more I fished here, the more I felt like home. There aren’t a lot of drop-off situations. It’s flat, and everything looks the same, which I like. I had a pretty good day today.”

With such a strong start here, Hackney – twice a top-10 finisher in the standings race (second in 2004, 10th in 2002) – is making a push to overtake points leader J.T. Kenney and the rest to clinch his first Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year title.

While Kenney mustered just a 70th-place showing Wednesday, Hackney’s main competition will likely come from Dave Lefebre (sixth place Wednesday) and Toshinari Namiki (13th place). Respectively sitting in 19th and 34th place after today, Matt Herren and Anthony Gagliardi are also in the mix. Whomever it boils down to, Thursday will be a critical day of fishing for those involved.

Newby fifth

Sam Newby, the pro from Pocola, Okla., with a penchant for Northern fishing, grabbed the fifth spot with a limit weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce.

“I’m thoroughly satisfied. I caught 25 keepers and lost just one fish. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a tournament where I put them all in the boat,” he said. “I’m doing something a little different from everybody else. If it’s like it was today, I’m going to smash them again tomorrow.”

Danny Correia caught this 6-pound, 9-ounce hog on day one to land in 13th and earn Pro Division big-bass honors.Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros on day one at the Chevy Open:

6th: Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., five bass, 17-12

7th: Michael Huminik of Stafford, Va., five bass, 17-6

8th: Alvin Shaw of State Road, N.C., five bass, 17-4

9th: Randy Blaukat of Lamar, Mo., five bass, 16-14

9th: David Lauer of South Bend, Ind., five bass, 16-14

Danny Correia of Marlborough, Mass., earned the day’s Snickers Big Bass award of $750 in the Pro Division with a 6-pound, 9-ounce largemouth.

Koester leads co-anglers

In the Co-angler Division, Chris Koester of Winston Salem, N.C., leads the field with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 9 ounces. He fished with pro Jason Kilpatrick Wednesday.

“Jason is really smart about tidal stuff,” Koester said. “He knew not to fish the best stuff right away. He might be the very best pro partner I’ve ever had. I didn’t do anything special; I just had a good day.”

Second place for the co-anglers went to Robert Blosser of Poynette, Wis., for five bass that weighed 15 pounds, 15 ounces.

Terry Chapman of Cornelius, N.C., placed third on the co-angler side with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces.

Co-angler Thomas Greene of Germantown, Md., placed fourth with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces.

Dino Caporuscio of Coto de Caza, Calif., and Bill Rogers of Jasper, Texas, tied for fifth place, each with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 7 ounces. Rogers also claimed the Snickers Big Bass award and $500 in the Co-angler Division with a 6-pound, 2-ounce bass.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers on day one at the Potomac River:

7th: Rick Parnell of Casselberry, Fla., five bass, 14-6

8th: Don Harvey of Franklin, Tenn., five bass, 14-5

8th: Toby Maddox of Fredericksburg, Va., five bass, 14-5

10th: Kent McPhail of Lubbock, Texas, five bass, 14-4

Day two of FLW Tour Chevy Open competition at the Potomac River begins as the full field of 200 boats takes off from Smallwood State Park at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time Thursday for the second half of the opening round. Following tomorrow’s action, both fields will be cut to the top 10 anglers apiece based on two-day total weight.

The host of the 2005 Chevy Open is Charles County, Md.