Kitchen sink works for the Top 10 on the Potomac River - Major League Fishing

Kitchen sink works for the Top 10 on the Potomac River

Image for Kitchen sink works for the Top 10 on the Potomac River
A lot of typical stuff and some oddball patterns worked on the Potomac. Photo by Cobi Pellerito. Angler: Bryan Schmitt.
June 11, 2024 • Jody White, Cobi Pellerito • Toyota Series

MARBURY, Md. – Generally speaking, the Potomac River is a lock for an interesting tournament, and the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Northern Division anglers got just that in the season-opener. With pretty solid weights every day of the event, a smorgasbord of baits and patterns got things done on the river.

Next up, the Northern Division anglers will head north to Lake Champlain, where the fishing should be fantastic as well.

1. Catt makes it happen in a creek

Fishing up a creek, Michael Catt ended up winning by a pretty decent margin, catching a big bag on Day 1 and then never really faltering along the way.

Catt’s main bait was a Texas-rigged Bruiser Baits Bruiser Hog with a 1/4-ounce Flat Out Tungsten weight and a 5/0 Owner hook he threw on 17-pound Seaguar AbrazX. For the T-rig, he used a 7-foot, 4-inch, heavy Ark Invoker Pro. Catt also used a drop-shot with a Bruiser Baits Drop Shot in Potomac special for his worm, a 1/4-ounce or 1/8-ounce weight, a No. 2 hook and 8-pound Seaguar Tatsu for his leader. On the rod, he went with a 7-foot, 2-inch, medium-heavy Ark Invoker Pro.

2. “Perch” beds key for Stoker

Spike Stoker finished second on a few Potomac staples and some non-traditional deals.

He fished a Berkley Frittside on shell in the morning, frogged some, threw a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer with a Yamamoto Zako and used a 3/16-ounce Reneau Tackle Line Thru Finesse head with a 3.8-inch 6th Sense Divine Swimbait.

“I started every morning on a shell bed; it didn’t really fire off like I thought it would the first two mornings,” Stoker said. “But, the third morning, they were biting – I had 15 pounds in an hour there.

“When the water got really low, I’d take that swimbait and reel it as fast as I could reel it over the perch beds, and they’d come up and get it,” he said. “I probably had 20 or 25 of those perch beds found, and once the water got low, the fish would sit on the edge of them. That swimbait head comes through the sparse grass really well, and when you reel it, it wobbles really hard to the left and right.”

“Perch beds” make sense to Texans, but other folks might know them as bluegill beds or bream beds. For his baitcaster techniques, Stoker used Reneau Tackle rods, and he put a homemade skirt on his JackHammer for a custom vibe.

3. Dickerson sticks to the pad bite

Sacking up 19 pounds on Day 1, Tommy Dickerson never got the same total the rest of the event but still did well every day.

Fishing in pads exclusively, Dickerson used an iRod, 40-pound braid and a black-and-blue Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. He used 1/4- and 1/2-ounce weights, and a 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook.

“On the cloudy days, they were higher under the pads, and the 1/2-ounce would scare them a little bit,” Dickerson said. “So, I started throwing the 1/4-ounce, and I’d just barely pull it off. If you threw the 1/2, it would spook them, and you’d barely get a bite. High tide, I’d get more in the pads, and low tide I’d get more in the edges. I had a couple places from when I’d been there before, and they produced again. I think it was harder bottom – they seemed to produce time and time; I could leave and come back a few times in a day.”

4. Schmitt does well again on the Potomac

Probably the best tidal angler currently competing, Bryan Schmitt slipped into the Top 10 on his home river yet again. This week, he did it with a whole slew of different tactics, which is a bit atypical for the Maryland pro.

In addition to a prototype SPRO vibrating bait, Schmitt used a SPRO Bronzeye Jr., a Missile Baits Quiver Worm with a Floatzilla Tail, a 1st Gen Copperhead Bladed Jig, a 1/2-ounce Hayabusa Lil’ Schmitty Swim Jig (river special) and a Missile Baits D Bomb.

For his worm, Schmitt used a 5/16-ounce Reins weight and a 4/0 Hayabusa WRM959. He trailered the vibrating jig and swim jig with a D Domb with the flippers cut off. For the solo D Bomb, he used a 5/0 Hayabusa FPP Straight HD and a 1.5-ounce Reins weight. All around, Schmitt used P-Line and Fitzgerald rods.

Schmitt started the event with a swim jig on Greenway Flats, but had to cobble things together from there.

“Normally I don’t do this on the river, but I did three different deals three days in a row,” he said. “The first day, I ran up to Greenway, and when I got to where I wanted to get, there was nobody there, and me and my co-angler blistered them. Day 2, I’m super excited to go back up there, and I’m not getting bites – terrible. I was fishing down the grass edge on the side and a fish blew up next to a log. Well, I caught a 4, a 3 1/2 and lost a big one on that log. So, I start running that, and then I caught another one in the grass and lost another big one in the grass.”

Come Day 3, with two patterns down, Schmitt had to adapt again.

“Day 3, I didn’t know what to do, and I tried a few things up there and bagged it all and went flipping and punching at Aquia,” he said. “I didn’t fish clean, and I didn’t have the best deals – I just got so lucky on stuff. I got these bites that normally don’t happen unless you’re going to win, and it just didn’t happen.”

5. Basics produce for Duarte

John Duarte rolled up the leaderboard on Day 2 and Day 3 with back-to-back 17-pound bags. For the Maryland pro, simple stuff got the job done.

Duarte mostly threw a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer in white and punched with a Zoom Z-Hog on a 4/0 Owner Jungle Flippin’ Hook and a 1.5-ounce weight.

“Day 1, I kinda messed up; I left them biting first thing in the morning,” Duarte said. “The next two days, I pretty much caught them in one mat, punching, and the last day I weighed two or three of them out of a main-river grass bed.”

6. “Bright spot” pattern works for Davis

Flint Davis made the Top 10 off a somewhat unique pattern.

“I thought I was on bream beds, but come to find out, it wasn’t that,” he said. “I was catching them on low tide, and I was catching them on bright spots. Well, the bright spots were little holes in the ground. In the grass flat, the bright spots were 6-inches deeper – it would push all those fish into the bright spots at low tide.”

The downside of that was that Davis didn’t have much happening until the end of the day.

“It sucked for me on high tide,” he said. “I wouldn’t catch them until the tide got low enough, and then I had to run around like a maniac once the tide got right.”

To catch his fish, Davis relied on a wacky-rigged Yamamoto Senko with a 1/0 Roboworm Rebarb Hook.

7. Serafin excels with finesse

Camping on Greenway Flats for the week, Chase Serafin used a pair of finesse techniques to coax bass into biting.

His primary hitter was the exotic 5-inch Yamamoto Senko, in green pumpkin with the tail dyed chartreuse. He also used a drop-shot with a 3/8-ounce weight and 6- or 7-inch Roboworm Straight Tail Worms.

“I was throwing the Senko up in the grass beds, just working that thing as slow as I could through the holes. There were some bream beds mixed in them, which was why I was dying the tail,” Serafin said. “Halfway through Day 1, I started figuring out there were some isolated clumps off the edges on the grass flats, and I could see fish around them on LiveScope. I was drop-shotting those with the morning dawn Roboworm – that’s where I caught all my big ones the second day.”

8. Potomac good again to McCann

Ben McCann is in the midst of establishing a pretty good record on the Potomac River, and the shallow, grassy fishery seems to fish to his strengths pretty well.

In this event, McCann mixed a few different deals. One of his primary baits was a BOOYAH Pad Crasher with a 3/0 Gamakatsu Frog Hook and trimmed-down legs. He also used a Beast Coast Gorilla Swim Jig with a Zoom Z-Craw Jr., a drop-shot with a 6-inch Roboworm Straight Tail Worm and a weightless Missile Baits D Stroyer.

McCann used Powell rods and Daiwa reels across the board, with Seaguar TactX for braid and a Seaguar Red Label for fluoro. For his drop-shot, he used a Gamakatsu G-Finesse Worm Hook and a 1/8-ounce weight.

Fishing bream beds, grass and marshes, McCann put the whole suite of tackle to work.

“I was fishing the swim jig in such shallow water, I could literally see the fish waking to the swim jig,” he said. “The D Stroyer was a follow-up bait. I could throw it up when they missed it, completely weightless; it looks super good in the water column, and they don’t usually turn it down.

“The drop-shot was for hard cover in current, and I was pitching it at cruising fish,” he said. “I was fishing a lot around bluegill beds and a lot in the marshes, where the water would drain out of the arrowheads.”

9. Ingalls sticks to the staples

One of an oddly low number of locals in the Top 10, Ryan Ingalls rolled with a few river standards to get the job done.

An Ima Finesse Popper was probably the most fun thing Ingalls threw, and he also used a 3/8-ounce unnamed swim jig with a craw trailer and a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer in white, bluegill and craw patterns. He used Gamma line and Dobyns rods.

“In the past I always struggled on the second day to adjust. This year, I finally took a different approach, and it worked out,” he said. “I was just targeting deeper grass, ditches, edges – unique things on the grass flats. I was fishing the Mason Neck region — that area was so good this event because of the tide window we had. It was falling all six hours of the tide cycle up there, so I didn’t run up or down the river too much. The third day, the area I was catching a limit was no good, so at about 9:30, I bailed and went fishing for fun.”

10. Main river buoys Keyso

Rolling up from Florida to fish, Mikey Keyso knocked out a Top 10 with a flipping stick in hand, as he is wont to do.

For Keyso, the primary bait was a Reaction Innovations Kinky Beaver (dirty Sanchez) with a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce weight, a 4/0 Mustad Grip-Pin Max 3X Punch Hook and 50-pound Fitzgerald Vursa Braid.

Catching a 7-2 in practice on the main river helped clue Keyso into the flipping bite.

“I was doing the ChatterBait thing on the main river, and I saw some milfoil clumped up when the tide got low,” he said. “I started flipping that and getting bit in that. That was my primary thing, just flipping milfoil anywhere I could find it. We had some gnarly wind the second day, and I had to bail into Belmont Bay, and I flipped milfoil there. That was my deal – I went up there to grass fish.”