Nobody can quite put a pin on why the fishing is so tough, but day two of the Costa FLW Series presented by Plano on the Potomac River did not show the place at its best. Most of the theories center around the slightly dirty water because of recent rains or an excess of grass, particularly hydrilla. Both probably have some merit, but whatever the reason, everyone agrees there are still plenty of good fish to catch – it’s just wicked hard to do it.
In the lead, Gregory Wilder has banked on a finesse bait and one area for the majority of the time, but the rest of the top five has a fair amount of variety going on.
2. Mike Hicks – Goochland, Va. – 31-12 (10)
Mike Hicks hasn’t gotten many bites, but he’s getting the right ones.
On day one, he mined a community hole and the way back of a creek for most of his limit, catching the bulk of his weight on a pair of topwater baits. Today, that’s changed up quite a bit – though he was able to get a few key fish from his community hole to start, the creek didn’t produce at all.
“I had a backup place up north and I finally went to it,” says Hicks. “I didn’t have but 45 minutes to spend there and I caught two and culled one. I only had six keepers today, so it’s a grind.”
Hicks’ described his backup spot as a small ditch running through a grass flat, with the fish sitting on the bare bottom in just 2 feet of water.
“I really had to get finesse today and do some stuff,” says Hicks. “It’s tough, I had split-shots out today if that tells you anything. I think I can catch 13 pounds again, but I don’t know about 18 pounds. I feel like if you do that you’ll have a shot to win. I’m going to probably hang at that community hole a little longer tomorrow and try to get them to bite. There’s a lot of big ones down there, you just have to catch them.”
3. Travis Manson – Conshohocken, Penn. – 31-11 (10)
Catching just 1 ounce less than he did on day one, Travis Mason has been one of the most consistent pros in the tournament. With the river as tough as it is, that could pay off big time on day three.
“It’s a morning deal for me, if the tide would cooperate a little bit better it’d be epic,” says Manson. “Today I had 12 bites, where yesterday I had seven. But I only landed five of them and lost some giants.”
Manson is mostly fishing a single 60-yard stretch of grass, plying a buzzbait, a frog, a swim jig and one other bait.
“I have a bunch of Whopper Ploppers and this is the first time I’ve ever used them in my life,” says Manson. “That’s kind of the deal in the morning right away. I’m getting some key bites almost instantly on it. Yesterday I caught two in the first two casts with it.”
4. Mike Blake – Carrolton, Ohio – 28-12 (10)
Mike Blake has been very consistent as well, and he’s doing it in some pretty crowded areas. On day three, with only 10 boats in the tournament, he should have some more breathing room.
“I just stayed on it, working deep and shallow on the flats, back and forth and back and forth,” says Blake. “There’s a lot of boats on me, but I just stayed patient. I think a lot of times when the boats go in and out the prop wash triggers them. I’m just hoping they’re there tomorrow, I saw a few guys catch 4-pounders in there today, so there are some good fish.”
Blake says he had five areas with fish and the right mix of scattered grasses and sand identified in practice, but he’s only managed to get two to produce so far. Blake says he’s throwing a swim jig from Dave’s Custom Tackle that he’s paired with a Zoom Speed Craw, and has caught about nine keepers each day.
5. Ed Casey – Whiteford, Md. – 27-4 (10)
Coming on strong into fifth, Ed Casey is rolling now, with back-to-back top-10 finishes after a strong showing last month at the 1000 Islands.
“I basically did the same thing today as I did yesterday,” says Casey. “I’m fishing up north, catching 90 percent of my fish on a spinnerbait. I went to the same place, me and one other boat were fishing it, he had an earlier flight than me and did better yesterday, and I had an earlier flight and fished ahead of him today.”
Casey says he caught nine keepers, with a couple coming later on a frog and the rest falling to his spinnerbait. He believes the trailer he’s using on the blade is key, and feels like his primary area should be able to hold up to at least one more day.