Toyota Series Northern Division set to wrap up 2023 season on Potomac River - Major League Fishing

Toyota Series Northern Division set to wrap up 2023 season on Potomac River

Image for Toyota Series Northern Division set to wrap up 2023 season on Potomac River
The Northern Division will finish out the season on familiar waters at a familiar time of the year. Photo by Cobi Pellerito.
September 19, 2023 • Jody White • Toyota Series

MARBURY, Md. – It’s pretty common for the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats to wrap up the Northern Division Presented by Rabid Baits season on the Potomac River. This year, there’s hope the weather may put the fishing on the upswing a little, as the lows should be in the 50s at night leading up to the event and the highs are set to barely touch 80. Still, it’s hard to predict big things – September is usually pretty tough on the river, and the recent Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Shenandoah Division Super Tournament did not feature super impressive weights.

Zachary Stoupa won a tough Shenandoah Division event over the weekend.

Breaking down the Super Tournament

Of great interest to the Toyota Series anglers, the recent Super Tournament set a lackluster precedent. Earning the win, Zachary Stoupa totaled 29 pounds, 1 ounce. To make the cut, it took just 10-13 on Day 1, and only 11 of the 19 fishing on Day 2 caught a limit.

From the sounds of it, Stoupa got the win in Mattawoman Creek winding a vibrating jig – a Potomac staple.

“Going into this event, I had a good lead in the Angler of the Year race, so my plan was to try and fish kind of close so I didn’t have to make a long run anywhere,” Stoupa said. “I did a lot of damage in Mattawoman Creek, and that really worked out in my favor. I didn’t have to run very long to secure Angler of the Year and picked up a win in the process.”

One of the few anglers who signed up to fish both events, Nolan Gaskin finished seventh with 24-1 and also caught five redfish during the event.

“That storm sitting off the coast pushed the tide up super high,” Gaskin said. “I think that had a lot to do with it. You needed the tide to get right, and it wasn’t gonna get right. But here, even on a high tide they normally bite.

“It is brutal, five bites a day,” Gaskin said. “I did a lot of flipping, that’s what I do, but I had to move around to get some bites. I caught a keeper on a ChatterBait, a frog, flipping and one on a swim jig.”

Gaskin also reported a lot of non-bass in the mix, and knows others who have caught redfish in practice, a flounder and a ray. So, the Potomac is apparently more tidal and interesting than ever.

“It’s setting up just like two years ago, and it’s setting up perfect for me,” Gaskin said. “I think it’s going to be a super tough tournament, the tide is going to be high for the next four days. I think the best day of fishing for this tournament is going to be Saturday. I think it’s setting up to be a tough one, and those are the ones I like.”

A win in the season-opener and a Top 10 have Brett Carnright in the driver’s seat for Angler of the Year. Photo by Rob Matsuura

A race to the finish for AOY

This year the Angler of the Year race in the Northern Division is set to go down to the wire, with an interesting cast of characters in the mix for the $5,000 prize. Starting the season up north has two New York anglers up top, with Brett Carnright (517 points) leading and Alec Morrison (509) in second. There are also four Canadians in the Top 10 (none named Johnston), plus Kyle Hall, Edward Levin and two Floridians.

Notably, Miller (third, 505) and Luzak (fourth, 491) are not fishing the season finale, which likely makes AOY a three-man race, between the Champlain kids and Hall. Considering the points spread, if the leaders do their job the race might not be too interesting. But, the Potomac is not home for Carnright or Morrison, and with a lot of locals in the event there’s certainly the potential for things to go a little sideways.

On the Strike King co-angler side, Richard Bleser has a significant lead with 507 points, but things are packed tight behind him. Both Cooper Jett and Shawn Gokey have 485 points, and Akira Okuyama, Ryder Mains, Garett Seppala and Eric Roussin all have 474 points. So, if Bleser falters, it’s pretty wide open.