MARBURY, Md. – While the overall weights are far from impressive, the top of the field showed out on Day 1 of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Northern Division event on the Potomac River. Leading the pack, Florida pro Christian Greico sacked 18 pounds, 1 ounce to get things rolling. In second, Todd Langford tallied 17-5, Alec Morrison sacked 16-0 for third and a number of pros crossed into the teens. Backing up Day 1 will be key, but there’s certainly a group of high-flyers to watch as the event progresses.
Outside of some big bags, things seem to have gone roughly to plan on Day 1. It looks like punching is playing pretty strong throughout, the grass bite isn’t bad, and the hard cover bite is very spotty.
On the Angler of the Year front, Morrison has narrowly moved ahead of Brett Carnright for the lead. Both New Yorkers did very well on Day 1, with Carnright ending up 14th and Morrison at the top of the table in third, but Carnright will need to close the gap as the event goes on if he’s going to finish off his title chase.
It takes a certain kind of person to fish for a handful of bites per day and feel good about it – a lot of them live in Florida and love braided line. So, for Greico to be leading the whole shooting match on the strength of seven fish isn’t exactly surprising, and it’s proof that even in this fascinating modern age the old-school grind can work out.
Though Greico certainly feels comfortable on the Potomac now (he’s cashed in every trip so far), he wasn’t really expecting today to go as well as it did.
“I definitely did not know it was coming,” he said. “I literally caught two keeper fish all of practice and shook off a few bites I thought were good. I figured with the bite being so tough, I’d go into some areas where I got bit and see what would happen.”
Greico said he basically fished one area all day.
“I had small little bite windows where I’d catch one or two, that happened three times throughout the day. One of the times I missed a couple fish, I thought I messed up, but luckily I got one more bite window and pulled it together. I’ve got one area right now, but I have some other areas I might go to if that doesn’t work out.”
Though he’s gaining experience on the river, Greico says he doesn’t really know why the fish are biting when they do, or if there are specific tidal cues he could capitalize on.
“I don’t feel like I had my finger on it today,” he said. “I feel like I got in an area that had some fish and made the best of it. Randomly they’ll turn on, you’ll get one or two right away, then they’ll shut off.”
Still, despite the randomness, he’s got a degree of confidence that doesn’t really match with seven keepers. He thinks he’s on the right quality to continue to contend.
“I think if I get five bites tomorrow I’ll have another decent bag,” he said.
As for how he’s catching them: “Everybody can probably guess anyways.”
With three Phoenix Bass Fishing League wins to his credit since 2019, Langford is no slouch when it comes to his area, and his area is Virginia and everything touching it. The Great Falls angler put it together in style on Day 1, and that’s after cashing a check in last week’s Super Tournament.
“I fished the Super Tournament, I fish out here all the time, it’s tough,” Langford said. “The second day, it was impossible to catch a bass, at least for me. I made every right decision today, I was very fortunate.”
Moving around and using a bevy of tactics, Langford made all the right calls today.
“I caught one on a spinnerbait, a couple on a Senko, a couple flipping, it was just a good day,” he said. “I’m doing a bunch of different things.”
Of course, with a great Day 1 in the bag, doing it again becomes the challenge.
“I don’t think I can do 17 again, but I can probably do 12,” the Virginian surmised. “The river is tough right now, everybody is on top of each other, and a lot of fish got caught today. So, it’s not going to be easy.”
The young angler from Peru is not lacking in believers, and so far he’s done nothing but impress in 2023. With a massive Toyota Series victory under his belt already, plus a BFL win, Morrison is now in position to win again on a place he’s never fished before, just like he did earlier in the year at Sam Rayburn.
“This morning I started on some schooling fish, and they were still there, and we got three bites immediately,” he said. “I figured, ‘shoot,’ we were about to catch both our limits real quick. That’s how they were in practice, real easy to catch. And, we caught three, and then it totally died. I started running around different stretches, and instead of catching 2-pounders, I was catching 13-inchers.”
Then, with an unassuming limit in the box, Morrison picked up a free rig and made a move.
“It was pretty rough, but I did have a limit,” he said. “I went to some hard cover and started flipping one section and got some key bites. Four of my fish came off one spot.”
Like basically everyone in the running, backing up Day 1 is a tenuous proposition.
“I don’t have enough experience here to know,” he said. “It was a long, tough practice. I spent quite a while, I wanted to get a really good look at the place. I had good days, but I had a lot of bad days where I was left with more questions than answers. It didn’t really come together until the last two days of practice, and luckily it came through today.”
1. Christian Greico – 18 – 1 (5)
2. Todd Langford – 17 – 5 (5)
3. Alec Morrison – 16 – 0 (5)
4. Ron Nelson – 15 – 7 (5)
5. Thomas Guthke – 15 – 2 (5)
6. Chase Serafin – 14 – 15 (5)
7. Doug Stamper – 14 – 10 (5)
8. Aaron Dixon – 13 – 15 (5)
9. David Kranz – 13 – 14 (5)
10. Brent Crow – 13 – 12 (5)