Picking up right where he left off back in 2015 after winning on this same body of water, Clark Wendlandt claimed the lead Thursday on day one of the FLW Tour on the Potomac River presented by Costa Sunglasses, thanks to a healthy 19-pound, 11-ounce limit. Though his lead is a mere 5 ounces ahead of Tom Monsoor, Wendlandt has reinforced the notion that he’s in tune with this tidal system.
“I have fished the Potomac for a long time, since 1996,” Wendlandt says. “My first three tournaments here were terrible. I couldn’t catch a bass. Then I just figured out how to catch them here and it’s hard to describe but I get a warm, fuzzy feeling fishing out here. Not that I think I am going to catch them, but I feel very confident.
“I truly believe this is the best this river has been in terms of size since I’ve fished it. That’s some 20 years of experience. It is fantastic.”
While the Potomac is possibly fishing better than ever, Wendlandt admits he couldn’t have pictured today starting out the way it did.
“I really didn’t think I would catch them like I did today,” states the Leander, Texas, pro. “I thought that early and late in the day would be best, but I caught the bulk of my fish in the middle of the day.”
During his win at the last Tour event here, Wendlandt worked a mix of docks, some laydowns and grass for the title. He also had the majority of Potomac Creek to himself. However, this time around it’s a whole different ballgame.
“I caught a few of my better fish in one general area,” he adds. “The only problem is that there are so many boats fishing around in there I’m not sure I can duplicate my day tomorrow. I’ll go start in there and see what I can do, but I might have to pull the plug and run around to some new areas.”
Luckily for Wendlandt, he is a master at adapting on the fly. It explains why he does so well in the springtime when bass are moving daily, and also why for years he dominated on the ever-changing Beaver Lake. He is the textbook definition of an angler who trusts his instincts.
“This is a really unique fishery because you can catch them in the grass one day, on docks the next and rocks the next. It all depends on the tide. It is an ever-changing place and that’s what’s cool about it. I’ve just been good at catching them on places like this.”
Wendlandt realizes that starting from scratch is a must on fisheries like the Potomac. Weather – like wind – can help or hinder tides. Rain or wind can dirty certain parts of the river up and render them useless. He notes that he hasn’t even bothered to look at the weather because he doesn’t want to make a game plan until he starts fishing on Friday.
“I fish this place just like Bryan Thrift, with lots of rods on the deck. Tomorrow won’t be any different.”
Top 10 pros
1. Clark Wendlandt – Leander, Texas – 19-11 (5)
2. Tom Monsoor – La Crosse, Wis. – 19-6 (5)
3. Kurt Dove – Del Rio, Texas – 18-14 (5)
4. Carl Jocumsen – Frisco, Texas – 18-11 (5)
5. Robert Berhle – Hoover, Ala. – 18-10 (5)
6. Clark Reehm – Huntington, Texas – 18-2 (5)
7. Matt Arey – Shelby, N.C. – 18-1 (5)
8. Andy Young – Mound, Minn. – 17-15 (5)
9. David Dudley – Lynchburg, Va. – 17-8 (5)
10. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ont. – 17-7 (5)
Larson takes co-angler lead
David Larson of Mound, Minn. took the day one lead on the co-angler side with a five-fish limit weighing 17 pounds, 12 ounces. Larson, who fished on day one with Boca Raton, Fla. pro Mike Surman, caught most of his fish on an early-morning topwater bite and by pitching and flipping milfoil patches both early and in the afternoon on the outgoing tide.