CHARLES COUNTY, Md. – Maybe the topwater bite on the Potomac River wasn’t over. Maybe Weather.com shouldn’t be trusted with a $1 million total purse at stake. Pro Jack Wade didn’t listen to the forecast and threw a combination of jigs, plastics and topwaters en route to an opening-round total of 10 bass weighing 37 pounds, 13 ounces.
The sun peeked out at times, but the majority of the day was cloudy and cool once again. Overall, the bite on day two of the fifth Wal-Mart FLW Tour qualifier was slightly weaker. It was a slower day for Wade, the pro leader, as well. In fact, Wade didn’t have a single fish in his boat at 10:30 a.m. He wasn’t in panic mode at that time, but he was getting close.
“The fish came out of places today that I didn’t touch yesterday,” he said. “I tried fishing a grass bed area with the high tide, but that didn’t work.”
He then went to his secondary area and found success with a 3/8-ounce jig. All of his weigh-fish came on the jig, and by 1:30 p.m. he had enough in his livewell that he knew he was comfortably in the top 10. Those five weighed exactly 16 pounds, 14 ounces.
Not surprisingly, his bass are coming from grass and wood. Yesterday, four of his keepers came from flipping wood; today the pro leader wasn’t willing to reveal numbers. Wade plans to play the tides again Saturday in a spot where he knows quality fish are holding, although he expects to catch a few 2-pounders in the area as well.
“You never know when that one 2-pounder is going to be the one to get you over that hump.”
After day one, the veteran pro proclaimed that he was catching 18 to 21 pounds each day during practice. As the tournament progresses, that proclamation is looking more and more realistic. Yesterday, Wade was a little frustrated that a few of his better areas had muddied up. Today those areas began to clear up – making the Knoxville, Tenn., pro even more dangerous.
“I’ve got a good feeling about tomorrow, but who knows exactly what will happen?”
When asked if he thinks he can catch the 18 to 21 pounds he was averaging in practice, Wade replied, “Oh yeah.”
Lane up to second
Bobby Lane, a renowned grass angler in Florida, is enjoying fishing grass in the northern waters of the Potomac River. On day two, he caught five bass weighing 16 pounds, 14 ounces, pushing his two-day total to 36 pounds, 13 ounces.
Lane is the latest pro to reap the karma benefits of having a pregnant wife. For whatever reason, approximately a month before the due date, bass start flying in the boat. With Robert Lane III due in mid-July, it’s no surprise to see the Spiderwire pro in position to win his first FLW Tour event.
Lane was fishless at approximately 8 a.m. At that point, he made a slight adjustment and had a limit in his livewell within 30 minutes. More specifically, he moved from Chicamuxen Creek to Mattawoman Creek, which is located approximately a half-mile from Smallwood State Park. Tomorrow, he will have to run 35 miles south to get to Mattawoman, as the takeoff will be held in downtown Washington, D.C.
“I wasn’t intentionally fishing for retreads, but I think I caught some,” said Lane, who caught a total of 10 keepers on the day. “A few of them had tags and lines coming out their mouths. Today they wouldn’t eat the frog. I caught them on a Pop-R and a Berkley Chigger Craw.”
The Lakeland, Fla., native added that most of the bigger fish came on the Chigger Craw. In fact, only one of the five that were weighed was caught on the Pop-R.
“Now that the tide doesn’t affect me at all, I feel like I can win this thing. I think this is definitely my best chance this year.
“I haven’t made a top-10 in over a year and a half. It feels great to be back.”
Davis punts to third
The ever-dangerous Mark Davis held back today in order to save fish for the final round and still caught a limit that weighed 15 pounds, 6 ounces. At the conclusion of the opening round, his two-day total registered 36 pounds, 10 ounces. Roughly half of his fish were caught casting a worm, the other half on a topwater frog.
“No whoppers today,” said Davis. “I’ve just been waiting on 3 p.m.”
Waiting on 3 p.m. meant Davis caught his fish early and spent the majority of the day looking for new water. Although he landed comfortably inside the top-10 cut, he didn’t find anything new that he liked.
“I’ll be honest: The fishing was tougher today. There was considerably more boat traffic in my area. It seemed like the same amount of boats, but they were in much tighter.”
These boats continued to catch fish long after Davis left. Because of that, he has no idea what is left in this main-river honeyhole.
“I feel like I probably need a new place. Tomorrow, the traffic from the cruisers and pleasure boats will be bigger than anything. You better get them early; that is just the way it is.”
Visually uncertain, the Mount Ida, Ark., pro paused to reconsider.
“There’s a lot of fish there. You’ve got to start there; there’s just too many big fish not to start there.”
Melvin said he’s more focused on a specific pattern than a certain area. He’s fishing main-river grass beds with 12-pound Trilene fluorocarbon made by Berkley. He wouldn’t say what is rigged on that Trilene, other than that it’s a soft-plastic finesse bait. Because of the light line, Melvin believes he’s getting more bites.
“I had a terrible practice,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to get the right bites.”
Catching the heaviest limit of the tournament thus far was BP pro Ray Scheide. Scheide was the first angler to cross the scale this afternoon, and he got things started in a big way by catching five bass that weighed 21 pounds, 6 ounces.
Scheide started the day by fishing a grass bed that had approximately 20 boats on it. The action was slow there, so he decided to gamble and fish new water. He ran approximately 10 to 15 miles south of Smallwood State Park to an area near Wade’s Bay.
There he caught well over 20 bass using an assortment of frogs, toads and swimbaits.
“It was pretty easy to catch them,” said the smiling pro. “I’ll be starting there tomorrow. I’m not sure that the fish in that exact spot will replenish, but I’ve seen a lot of places like it that I haven’t tried.”
Scheide ended the opening round with 35-4.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros who made the cut on day two at the Potomac River:
6th: Ken Wick of Star, Idaho, 34-14
7th: Jerry Williams of Conway, Ark., 34-0
8th: Chris Baumgardner of Gastonia, N.C., 34-0
9th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., 33-3
10th: Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., 33-3
All of the top 10 pros caught limits. However, the limit count was down Friday compared to Thursday. The pros weighed in 108 five-bass limits.
Murphy tops co-anglers
Ken Murphy of Meridian, Miss., leads the Co-angler Division thanks to a two-day catch of nine bass weighing 30 pounds, 2 ounces.
“I didn’t get as many keeper bites today,” said Murphy, who has amassed nine top-10 finishes in FLW Outdoors events. “I caught probably 10 or 12 short fish today. I just kept my head down and stuck to the presentation I have confidence in, and it worked out.”
Murphy’s confidence technique is fishing a Senko. While other anglers are probably throwing the same bait, Murphy said he’s chosen a different color and is weighting it differently than other anglers. The veteran co-angler also relied on a shaky-head finesse worm outside of grass edges. Murphy said the Senko and the shaky-head worm each produced two of his four keepers.
While Murphy is no stranger to top-10 finishes, he said he is thrilled to be leading the field going into the final day of competition and is looking forward to a shot at his first FLW Tour win. He may have a little extra motivation as well. Murphy finished 11th at the National Guard Open, just 5 ounces out of the cutoff.
“I still think about those 5 ounces from Norman,” he added. “To close the deal on this one would be awesome. That’s my ultimate goal right now. If I can get that behind me, it would surely be a milestone.”
James Dudley, father of Castrol pro David Dudley, grabbed third on the co-angler side with 26 pounds, 11 ounces. The Lynchburg, Va., veteran caught 15 pounds, 1 ounce on day two, the heaviest limit of the day among the co-anglers.
Co-angler David Hudson of Jasper, Ala., placed fourth with 26-5.
Marc Levesque of Waterbury, Conn., placed fifth for the co-anglers with 25 pounds, 5 ounces.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers who made the cut on day two at the Potomac River:
6th: Mark Myers of Cedar Falls, Iowa, 10 bass, 25-5
7th: Bob Blosser of Lodi, Wis., 10 bass, 25-1
8th: Ken Keirsey of Owasso, Okla., 10 bass, 24-9
9th: Kevin Koone of Greenbrier, Ark., 10 bass, 24-5
10th: Mark Spearly of Bellefonte, Pa., 8 bass, 24-3
Day three of competition on the Potomac River begins as the 10 pros and 10 co-anglers take off from Anacostia Park in downtown Washington, D.C., at 6:30 a.m. Eastern time Saturday for the second half of competition. The co-anglers will wrap up competition Saturday while the pros are fishing the first half of a two-day final round.