MARBURY, Md. – Putting his fifth fish in the boat about 10 minutes before weigh-in, Christian Greico tallied 15 pounds, 9 ounces on Day 2 to total 33-10 and stay ahead in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Northern Division event on the Potomac River. Greico is narrowly ahead of Ron Nelson, who has 32-7 and a decently comfortable margin over third-place Chase Serafin‘s 27-1. Of course, with rough weather on tap for Day 3, there’s probably no such thing as comfort for any of the competitors.
Serafin is the next man back of the leaders, but only slightly ahead of a scrum of four other anglers with 26 pounds and change. That pack includes Bryan Schmitt and Grae Buck, and with the expected overnight arrival of Tropical Storm Ophelia, there’s no real guarantee for Day 3. Running hard cover up shallow, Serafin might have chocolate milk to deal with by morning. Folks like Schmitt and Todd Langford know every inch of the river, but even that is small comfort if running where you want to becomes untenable.
On the Angler of the Year side, things are unbearably close. Unofficially, Ben McCann is tied with Alec Morrison by points, but Morrison owns the total-weight tiebreaker. Both anglers in question will be on the sidelines tomorrow, but with things as tight as they are, it’s hard to really call it done until the scales close on the Northern Division season.
Generally speaking, going from four keepers to five with minutes of fishing left isn’t a recipe for success, but it’s working out so far for Greico. The Florida pro’s final results are looking easy breezy, but Day 2 was anything but.
Today, Greico brought a 3-pounder over the rail with about 10 minutes left, putting himself firmly in the lead again.
“I just knew if I could get five fish in the boat I would have the weight I needed,” he said. “I just tried to stay calm the whole day. I knew if I got five in the boat I would have a good day.”
Punching and throwing a frog, Greico started with a big fish and a number of misses.
“I think three or four missed it in the morning, then one or two more,” he said. “And I think I had one fish I missed punching. Today everything came punching; they wouldn’t commit to the frog today.”
Using a 1 ½-ounce Epic Tungsten Flipping Weight and a Googan Bandito Bug, the big stick accounted for all Greico’s weight. Still, even with one of his favorite techniques playing, he had to adapt smartly.
“I had to expand today, for sure,” he said. “I only caught one fish off the stretch I caught all my fish on yesterday – four fish came off new spots. There’s definitely some fish to be caught still. It’s going to be another grind if we go out tomorrow, but if I get five bites I’ll have right what I need to have.”
The reigning Tackle Warehouse Invitationals Angler of the Year, Nelson now has a fourth career Toyota Series win in sight. Fishing pretty similarly to Greico, he’s been frustrated by leaving fish on the table.
“To catch 15 pounds the first day, I was disappointed. To catch 17 pounds today, I was still disappointed,” Nelson said. “Bites are hard to come by, big bites are really hard to come by. When you have a little flurry with three or four big bites in a row, and you see every one of them, and they don’t make it in the boat, … that hurts a little bit. But, I feel very grateful to be sitting in the Top 10.”
Nelson is punching and doing something a little extra. Drawing fish up with an undisclosed bait, he’s got some “sight fishing” going on, which is right up his alley. In fact, his 5-8 kicker fell for the secret bait.
“I like grinder tournaments, it makes you buckle down and strategize more,” Nelson said. “That big fish I had today really balanced out my day – I missed her two times, spun the boat around, drew her back up, watched her eat it, missed her, watched her eat it again, and I got her.”
If Nelson can keep seducing 5-pounders like that, he’s got a shot to scare Greico or anyone else in the Top 25 tomorrow.
Top 10 pros
1. Christian Greico – 33 – 10 (10)
2. Ron Nelson – 32 – 7 (10)
3. Chase Serafin – 27 – 1 (10)
4. Bryan Schmitt – 26 – 13 (10)
5. Jim Vitaro – 26 – 10 (10)
6. Todd Langford – 26 – 5 (10)
7. Grae Buck – 26 – 3 (10)
8. Connor MacDougall – 25 – 11 (10)
9. Jacob Powroznik – 25 – 11 (10)
10. Britt Myers – 25 – 11 (10)