Three for three - Major League Fishing

Three for three

Martin atop leaderboard for third consecutive day on Potomac River
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Scott Martin battles his third keeper of the day to the boat. Photo by Rob Newell. Angler: Scott Martin.
May 19, 2012 • Gary Mortenson • Archives

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s deja vu all over again.” And that sentiment seemed to perfectly sum up this week’s Walmart FLW Tour on the Potomac River as Scott Martin continued to dominate the headlines for the third day in a row. Bolstered by a total, three-day catch of 52 pounds, 15 ounces, the Clewiston, Fla., native continued his vice-like grip on first place, failing to yield any ground to his opponents as he continued to hold onto the top spot on the leaderboard during every day of competition so far.

“It’s just been a blessing,” said the National Guard pro, who used a 15-pound, 4-ounce sack in Saturday’s competition to secure the No. 1 qualifying position heading into Sunday’s finals. “Anytime you catch fish for three days in a row like I’ve done, it’s a good feeling.”

Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., held onto the overall lead at the FLW Tour Potomac River event for the third consecutive day. Martin now boasts a three-day total of 52 pounds, 15 ounces heading into SundayMartin, who is running between 10 different areas, said he’s continuing to target bass by flipping creature baits as well as finesse-style Bruiser Baits.

“I’m pretty much fishing grass exclusively at this point,” said Martin. “I’m rotating between 10 different spots – fishing some larger grass flats and some matted grass as well. But the key is getting those big bites.”

Martin cautioned that although he’s happy that he’s in the lead once again, he knows the tournament is far from over.

“On the first day I was able to get some big bites (a 5-10 and 5-11) but yesterday and today I wasn’t able to get those bigger bites,” said Martin. “Now, my cushion is getting smaller and smaller. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get those two or three quality fish I’ll need to win because these (fellow top-10) guys are coming hard. They’re going to catch them tomorrow and that means I’m going to have to have a big bag as well. I’m just going to have to fish hard all day and see what happens.”

Lefebre makes some noise

Kellogg's pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., netted second place overall after day-three competition on the Potomac River.After quietly hanging around the leaderboard for the past two days (finishing day one in ninth place and day two in seventh place), Kellogg’s pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., finally made his big move. Bolstered by a 16-pound, 15-ounce catch in Saturday’s competition, Lefebre shot up the leaderboard into second place overall with a total catch of 50 pounds, 10 ounces.

Now, for the first time, Lefebre is well within striking distance of the title.

“What’s good is that there is finally a crack in the door now,” said Lefebre, referring to his ability to close the gap on Scott Martin. “Right now, for the first time all week, I feel like I have a legitimate shot at the title. But if you’d asked me yesterday, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the same thing. So I’m excited about that.”

Lefebre, who has a long fishing history on the Potomac, said that unlike Martin, he has been steering clear of grass, instead opting to hone in on harder targets.

“I’m not fishing grass,” he said. “I’m basically targeting docks and some hard structure I’ve found over the years fishing here. I have so many waypoints from years past on this river and there are a lot of places I’ve yet to fish. So that’s going to make tomorrow especially exciting for me.”

Now, with the title squarely in his sights, does Lefebre think he has a realistic chance to knock Martin off of his first-place perch in the finals?

“When I saw those weights the first day, I didn’t really think I was going to have a chance,” said Lefebre. “But I know going into tomorrow that I have the ability to get the bites to get me at least 16 pounds. But I still have to get them in the boat. I’m in second place right now and I still haven’t had one big day yet. Hopefully tomorrow will be that day. If I can get a giant bite tomorrow, who knows?”

Pirch poaches top-three qualifying position

Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., leapfrogged from eighth place to third after the third day of FLW Tour competition on the Potomac River.After finishing day one tied for 38th place, Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., knew he was going to have to step up his game if he was to have any chance at a tournament title. So on day two, he went out and landed an 18-pound, 5-ounce bag which shot him all the way up to eighth place. But he didn’t stop there. During today’s semifinals, Pirch landed another stellar bag weighing in at 17 pounds, 4 ounces, to grab third place overall heading into the finals.

And now, just like Lefebre, Pirch has a legitimate shot at the title as well.

“I kind of messed up my timing on that first day, but I’m feeling really good now,” said Pirch, who has arguably been fishing as well as anyone left in the top-10 field since day one. “Over the past couple of days I started learning a few more things and now I’m wasting less time in unproductive areas. After figuring out the tides a little bit and figuring out which areas are holding the better fish, I’m able to spend more time in those quality areas. Timing is big for me right now. I can finally go with my strong areas and eliminate the weaker ones. Being within striking distance of (the leaders) is really cool as well.”

Pirch said that he’s been targeting bass with a Pepper flipping jig and Robo worm to land the majority of his catch.

“I’m not really fishing grass, just mostly concentrating on the hard stuff – isolated wood, docks, dock poles and riprap,” he said.

Dudley falls to fourth

Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., heads into the final day of Potomac River competition in fourth place.Although it appeared that David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., was surging after day two, the Castrol pro had a relatively off day today, only landing a total catch of 14 pounds, 11 ounces which dropped him to fourth place overall.

“I caught a lot of fish today, but no big bites and that pretty much summed it up,” said Dudley, who now boasts a three-day total of 49 pounds, 13 ounces. “I was running to about six or seven areas fishing ChatterBaits and flipping. But I wasn’t able to get the same bites I got yesterday.”

Dudley, who continues to fish large grass flats and a few other isolated grass areas, said the key to his success all week has been his ability to read the current.

“If you go and look at a big grass bed, you have to look at like it’s a big map,” he said. “You have to be able to read the current in the grass and pay attention to those little details which help you figure out where the fish will be. On this river, my theory is: set the hook, set the hook, set the hook and cull; set the hook, set the hook, set the hook and cull. You just have to keep your bait in the water as much as possible here because the more bites you get, the better the odds that you’re going to get those bigger bites.”

So now that he’s trying to claw back up the leaderboard from fourth place, what is Dudley’s mental thought process heading into the finals?

“You saw what Scott Martin did on that first day. He caught a 22-pound bag. So that’s possible for any one of us to do in the finals as well,” he said. “You know me, I don’t give up. I’m fishing for first place because second place is nothing more than first loser.”

Lucas rallies

National Guard pro Justin Lucas surged from 20th place on day two to fifth place overall heading into the finals on the Potomac River.Bolstered by an 18-pound, 6-ounce catch on day three, National Guard pro Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Ala., leapfrogged all the way from 20th place to fifth heading into the finals.

“At the beginning of this week I had a horrible practice,” said Lucas, who has been targeting bass all week with a Berkley Havoc Pit Boss. “But the Potomac River is just amazing. I’m having such a good time right now. I’m excited. But now I’m starting to get nervous. You can probably hear it in my voice.”

Lucas, who has now put together back-to-back 18-pound-plus stringers over the past two days, also appears to be a legitimate threat to walk away with the title if he can duplicate his recent efforts for one more day. Lucas heads into the finals with a total catch of 49 pounds, 10 ounces.

Best of the rest

FLW Tour pro Colby Schrumpf of Highland, Ill., heads into the finals in sixth place overall.Colby Schrumpf of Highland, Ill., grabbed sixth place overall heading into the finals after registering a three-day catch of 49 pounds, 3 ounces.

Meanwhile, M&Ms pro Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., suffered through a heartbreaking day after a livewell mixup forced him to abandon all but one fish from his morning limit. According to tournament officials, Moynagh’s co-angler partner inadvertently placed his own fish in Moynagh’s livewell which is a rules violation. As such, Moynagh had to throw back the majority of his catch and start over. But by the end of the day, Moynagh rallied to land another 14-pound, 11-ounce limit which was good enough to propel him into seventh place overall – a remarkable achievement all things considered.

“It was a tough day,” said Moynagh, who recorded a total three-day catch of 48 pounds, 9 ounces. “But I’ve known (my co-angler partner) for a long time. And he’s a good man, an honest man. And this was just an honest mistake.”

Rounding out the top-10 pro finalists who advanced to Sunday’s competition:

Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., qualified for the Potomac River finals in eighth place.8th: Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., 47-12

9th: Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, 47-11

10th: EverStart pro Ron Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., 47-3

For a complete list of the day’s results, click here.

Bass-fishing fans take note

A packed crowd was on hand to witness day-three weigh-in at National Harbor.FLW Tour action continues during Sunday’s final takeoff, scheduled to take place at 6:30 a.m. at National Harbor Marina, located at 168 National Harbor Plaza in National Harbor, Md.

Fans who can’t make tomorrow’s weigh-in in person can also tune into FLW Live on shortly before 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time to watch live streaming video and audio of Sunday’s weigh-in.