Potomac River Top 5 Patterns - Day 3 - Major League Fishing

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 3

The chasers are catching the fire out of them
Image for Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 3
Brandon McMillan Photo by Kyle Wood. Angler: Brandon McMillan.
June 17, 2017 • Sean Ostruszka • Archives

After three days, no one has run away with the FLW Tour presented by Costa Sunglasses on the Potomac River. Yet, someone sure could the final day.

Tom Monsoor’s significant lead has shrunk to a mere 2 ounces, and so has his optimism for his pattern. And that’s before you consider Brandon McMillan (second place) and Chad Warren (third) both crushed them on patterns they’re extremely confident they can replicate Sunday.

However, with first through 10th separated by only 4 ½ pounds, a 20-pound sack on Sunday might mean anyone in the top 10 could be hoisting the second-to-last Tour trophy of the season.

Monsoor’s leading pattern

Complete results


Brandon McMillan

2. Brandon McMillan – Clewiston, Fla. – 51-7

Most of the pros are worried about the tides and keeping up with them. Not McMillan.

“I’ve got one spot, and it’s all I got,” he says. “So unless that area of the river catches on fire, I’m going to go there, put the Power-Poles down and not leave until I have to come in.”

Fortunately for him, it’s a pretty special spot.

With an hour left on day one and next to nothing in his livewell, McMillan went to this 50-yard stretch and caught all his weight, which still only had him in 121st place. With nothing to lose, he went back there on day two and cracked the biggest bag of the tournament – 20-7 –  to jump more than 100 places and make the top-20 cut. Today he cracked the third-largest bag of the event – 19-7 – to catapult into second.

Here’s the kicker: He doesn’t even really know what makes the spot so good other than it’s “different” (look for a full breakdown of it on Sunday).

He does, however, know the fish on it love a watermelon-red flake Yamamoto Senko dragged weightless through it. He’s actually had to bum Senkos and even hooks from other pros throughout the event as he hasn’t been able to restock. Amazingly, he can only catch them on that one color, and only if the Senko has been untouched.

“Once it’s ripped even a little bit, I can’t get bit,” says McMillan.

When they do bite, though, they run off with it, leading him to believe there is a significant school there.

“I know there’s 100 bass there, just from how they’re eating the bait,” McMillan says.

“I’m pumped for tomorrow. All I wanted to do was come here and make sure I made the Cup. Now I’m in the top 10.”


Chad Warren

3. Chad Warren – Sand Springs, Okla. – 50-13

Warren expected to pull into his first area Saturday and crush them, and that’s exactly what he did. Though, he did it with a completely different bait than he thought.

“I expected to catch them on a swimbait like I did yesterday,” says Warren. “Then it was cloudy and I saw bait popping. I threw a popper a little in practice, and I decided to throw that at them. They were eating it.”

The Tour rookie put on a show, cracking 18-8 to help him extend his first top-20 cut into his first top 10. Best of all, he thinks conditions are lining up perfectly for him to do it again on Sunday.

“The tides are a big deal for me,” Warren says. “I need a low tide for the area to be good, and tomorrow should be just right so long as the clouds hold a little.”

The area itself is a giant grass flat he got dialed in on late on day two. The grass doesn’t reach the surface, even at low tide, hence his ability to toss the popper over it on Saturday morning.


Chris Johnston

4. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ontario – 49-13

Johnston has some big decisions ahead of him going into the final day.

He had been cycling through 10 areas the first two days based on the tides, but Saturday something went wrong, as he struggled throughout the morning. He even spent an hour in his big-fish spot without a bite. He managed to grind out a small limit by noon, but his day was “not very good.”

Then he hit a spot in the last hour he hadn’t fished all tournament.

“I culled out four of my five fish and lost a 5-pounder,” says Johnston. “I’ve fished it before [in previous tournaments], and it’s a real hit-or-miss spot. So I don’t know if the tide switch is what made them go or if I just pulled up and the fish were just there.”

The question now becomes does he try to run the tides again or go straight to that one area to see if he can recreate the magic with his flipping jig. He also has a third area he hasn’t fished yet, but it’s only good on a low-outgoing tide.

“I was going to start there based on the tides, but with how I ended today, I don’t know,” says Johnston. “I don’t think I’ll know until 6:30 a.m. tomorrow.”


Jeff Sprague

5. Jeff Sprague – Point, Texas – 48-15

Sprague has done a lot in his short time in the sport, especially with back-to-back top 10s in the Angler of the Year standings. The one thing he’s missing is a signature win; something he hopes to change on Sunday.

The Texas pro has remained remarkably consistent thus far, and on a fishery of highs and lows, consistency can be key. That also means consistency in the tides.

“The tide was a little higher today, and I think that messed up the timing for some guys,” says Sprague. “This is a true timing body of water.”

Sprague’s timing was pretty spot-on despite the extra water. He ran to a small area he also milked on day one to sack up 12 pounds by 8 a.m. Then it was off to his big-fish area, where he culled out all but one fish, with most of his key bites coming late in the afternoon.

“There are two windows: one in the morning and one in the afternoon,” says Sprague. “My big-fish area has been better in the afternoon, when the tide switches.

“On this river, it’s hard to get them to eat outside those two windows. I’m not saying you can’t make them eat, but it’s a whole lot easier when they turn on.”