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Pulling through at the Potomac

Posted by blake on July 4, 2015

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(Photo: FLW LLC)

I think I need to keep fishing every tournament like it’s my last.  After a rough event at Chickamauga, I went in knowing the Potomac River could be my last as an FLW Pro.  After two tough seasons on Tour, I had some serious thinking to do about whether it is in the best interest of my family and me to keep on doing it.  With that in the back of my mind it’s crazy, but I felt better and more focused going into the last event of the season.

Chickamauga was an offshore fishing event and sure enough that’s where most of the bigger bags came from.  On the first day I bought into the offshore game and had the right bites to put twenty pounds in the boat.  In three consecutive casts I lost a five pounder, caught a five pounder, and lost the biggest fish I saw while I was there (assuming six pounds).  I was definitely disappointed at my missed opportunities, but I went out the second day looking to get back in contention for a check. 

I changed up my approach and went up shallow and fished shallow milfoil.  The day started really well.  I caught about twenty fish, but the only problem was the size.  I had one that went about three and a half pounds and the rest were just keepers or non keepers.  I fished hard and pushed it to the last minute and ended up late to weigh in.  After finding that out, I dumped my fish.  Looking back on it, I probably should’ve weighed them.  Even with the penalty I would have had a chance to make a check.

With that poor finish at Chickamauga I knew the Potomac was my last chance to salvage my career.  I came into the event with a clear mind and a focus that resulted in a good practice leading up to the event.  It wasn’t the Potomac most of us are used to and a lot of guys had a tough time figuring things out.  I knew a handful of guys that didn’t even catch a keeper two out of the three practice days, so the fact that I found some areas that held fish was encouraging.

In practice, I found some areas that I didn’t see anyone even fishing.  With less grass than usual boats were basically on top of each other wherever grass beds were present.  One of my areas was an offshore grass bed that I pretty much had to myself the whole event.  I knew it was good and that was proven when the only two guys I saw ever come in and fish it during the tournament were Andy Morgan and Bryan Schmitt.

The first two days of the tournament went really well.  I managed a couple thirteen pound bags off my grass bed and made the first cut.  The only problem going into day three was we beat the fish up pretty good.  Myself and my co-anglers caught good bags of fish from the grass bed and by the time day three rolled around the spot was pretty much tapped out.  Throw into the mix a south wind that kept the tide from going out into the equation along some rain and you’ve got a tough day of fishing.

With time dwindling down and only one fish in the livewell, I ran up and fished some shallow pads with a chatterbait.  It was supposed to be a low tide at that point, but with the water still up, I figured they might be up shallower.  The move paid off as I caught two and lost a biggin.  I really wish I would’ve had about an hour to fish because I feel like I could’ve put together a good bad, but this game is all about decisions.  I made the right one, but not with enough time.  Everything changed that third day and I didn’t figure it out quick enough.

I’m still happy that with my back against the wall I was able to come out of the last event with my best finish of the season.  The 2015 FLW Tour season was an up and down ride that ended on a positive note.  It was another year that was mentally trying.  I’m going to be focusing on getting my mind back to where it needs to be before next season and before my next tournament in the fall. 

With the FLW Tour season over, I still have the final Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Seminole to fish.  I’m still in the mix to make the Elite Series through the Southern Opens and with Seminole being a tough fishery in October, I like my chances.  In the past, I’ve done well in fall tournaments and I’ll be working hard to continue that trend this fall.