Mike Hicks is nearly always good for a check when FLW comes to the Potomac, but this week he put it all together. The Costa FLW Series presented by Plano hit the Potomac when it was fishing wicked tough, but Hicks stayed steady all week. All told, the Goochland, Va., pro put together limits of 17 pounds, 14 ounces, 13-14 and 16-14 on the final day for a total of 48-10 and a payday of $42,200.
Hicks is a Potomac River veteran, and he showed it this week, running a diverse game plan and adapting every day.
On day one, Hicks mined the grass in front of Aquia Creek and the far back of Potomac Creek for his limit, landing just seven keepers on the day. On day two, Hicks started in front of Aquia, essentially fishing the same stretch of grass Casey Smith won off last year, and landed three keepers to start. Then, the back of Potomac failed him, and he was forced to scramble north to Pohick to fill his limit.
For the final day, Hicks decided to spend some more time at Aquia, figuring that his best odds for a big bag were there.
“It was pretty slow,” says Hicks of his day. “I managed to switch off of the popper I’d been catching them on and caught two big ones on a swim jig. Then I switched to a finesse topwater and caught two more good ones on a secondary spot near where I’d been fishing. Then I went through a big lull, and I had to run north about 25 miles and I caught my last one on that TD Pencil.”
In front of Aquia, Hicks picked his way around one section of shallow grass that was fairly protected the first two days. On the final day, he added in a stretch that was farther off the bank that had been blown out by the wind on days one and two.
Up north, Hicks keyed on fish in ditches in the backs of creeks, and he wouldn’t have had a limit without them either day.
“I went back to that spot from day two, and the fish weren’t there,” says Hicks, who didn’t really run the tide, but never let it beat him. “When I got there the tide was dead high, not moving, and those fish hadn’t positioned in that ditch yet. So, I left there and went to a similar ditch that I felt wouldn’t be hurt as bad. Plus, it was farther south, and the tide was starting to pull harder already there.”
Hicks relied on a menagerie of baits on the week, but topwaters did most of his damage. He threw a Lobina Rio Rico the first two days and then switched to a perch-colored Team Daiwa TD Pencil in the calmer water on the final day. His swim jig of choice was from Lil’ Hustler, and he trailered it with a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper. Hicks caught a few on a split-shot rig at the end of day two, and also added fish on a vibrating jig from Lil’ Hustler and a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.
Hicks has been fishing the Potomac and the James River for a long time, but this is his first time to break through with a big win.
“I was wondering why in the world I put my money in to come fish with y’all this week during practice,” says Hicks. “It was slow, but I knew it was slow for everybody. I just kept grinding, and when I found some stuff I could tell it was really to myself, and that got me kinda excited.
“It feels incredible to win,” Hicks adds. “I won one of these as a co-angler 17 years ago and I’ve been trying to win one ever since as a boater. I’ve done well in the past, but “well” doesn’t win.”
Top 10 pros
1. Mike Hicks – Goochland, Va. – 48-10 (15) – $42,200
2. Gregory Wilder – Millersville, Md. – 45-1 (15) – $16,500
3. Travis Manson – Conshohocken, Penn. – 43-1 (15) – $12,600
4. Bradley Staley – Pleasant Garden, N.C. – 37-13 (15) – $10,500
5. Ed Casey – Whiteford, Md. – 37-2 (14) – $9,700
6. Mike Blake – Carrollton, Ohio – 36-6 (15) – $8,250
7. Charlie Reed Jr. – Gloucester, Va. – 36-2 (15) – $7,200
8. Joseph Wood – Westport, Mass. – 35-10 (15) – $6,200
9. William Kramer – Gaithersburg, Md. – 35-7 (15) – $5,200
10. Jason Kervin – Auburn, Maine – 28-14 (10) – $4,100