An­glers com­pete for Bass­mas­ter Elite crown

Lu­cas nabs sec­ond Elite tour­ney win

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­

It’s about 400 feet long and made of wood and was the key fish­ing spot for Justin Lu­cas, who led from start to fin­ish to win the Bass­mas­ter Elite at Po­tomac River pre­sented by Econo Lodge, which con­cluded Sun­day.

The Cal­i­for­nia na­tive weighed in more than 39 pounds dur­ing the first two days of the tour­na­ment and then clinched his sec­ond ca­reer win with a fi­nal-day limit that tipped the scales at 19 pounds 13 ounces. He also won last year on the Sacra­mento River.

“This is my sev­enth year so this tells you how hard it is to get [a win],” said Lu­cas, who now lives in Alabama and weighed in 72 pounds 14 ounces. “I’m just as grate­ful for this one as I was for the last one and I’ll al­ways be that way for the next one, if I ever get one, but I sure hope I do.”

Bass­mas­ter em­cee Dave Mercer called Lu­cas’ win “ab­so­lute dom­i­na­tion.”

Lu­cas fin­ished more than four pounds ahead of run­ner-up Ja­son Christie of Ok­la­homa, who made things in­ter­est­ing with a whop­ping 23-1 dur­ing Sun­day’s fi­nal weigh-in at In­dian Head Pav­il­ion on the Vil­lage Green.

“I’m a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed but I’m not go­ing to lose any sleep over it,” said Christie, who was in fourth-place en­ter­ing Sun­day’s com­pe­ti­tion. “I think one thing that hurt us in prac­tice was we had two days of cloud cover and I think these fish like the sun. They like to get up in that grass and bury them­selves and we can tar­get them when they do that.”

Christie said he started to re­lax on Sun­day and also be­gan fig­ur­ing out the tides.

“It was just a fun, no pres­sure re­laxed kind of day and it seems like when­ever I do that I fish a lot more loose,” he said. “I kind of fig­ured [the tides] out this morn­ing and rode it out the rest of the day.”

Brent Ehrler fin­ished third with 62-12 and Bill Lowen (61-0) and Andy Mont­gomery (59-12) fin­ished four th and fifth, re­spec­tively.

Lu­cas started the tour­na­ment fish­ing a well­known spot on Fri­day, but when it quickly died he mo­tored 30 yards over to the dock next to a wa­ter treat­ment plant.

“I was just look­ing for docks where I felt I could catch one fish,” Lu­cas said. “My plan was to

start up there [north of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge] and run back and hit all the iso­lated docks and hope­fully pick off 10 to 12 pounds. When I moved over to the pier and caught two 3-pounders that changed ev­ery­thing for me.”

The sec­ond 3-pounder got wrapped around a pil­ing but us­ing 10-pound Tri­lene, Lu­cas wres­tled it free af­ter five min­utes.

“There was a big, long grass line, old wood pil­ings, shade, bait (white perch and bluegills) and depth (5 to 8 feet),” Lu­cas said. “It was like the per­fect storm.”

Us­ing a drop shot rig with a 6-inch brown and pur­ple Roboworm worm on a medium-heavy Ve­rac­ity Abu Gar­cia spin­ning rod and an Abu Gar­cia Revo MGX size 30 reel, Lu­cas started catch­ing fish.

“By the time I got down the pier I had a good limit,” he said, “way bet­ter than I ex­pected to catch. I was think­ing, ‘For once in my life in a big tour­na­ment I’ve found a good, le­git­i­mate spot where I could win a tour­na­ment in one spot.’ I’ve fished tour­na­ments seven years as a pro and I’ve never done that. It’s some­thing that falls in your lap.”

He pulled 20-4 from the dock on Day 1, an­other 19-14 on the sec­ond day and 12-15 on Day 3.

Lu­cas also raved about area an­glers later as he clutched the cham­pi­onship tro­phy and was sur­rounded by re­porters and well-wish­ers.

“My hat’s off to the Mary­land and Virginia fish­er­men be­cause I was fish­ing one of the big­ger com­mu­nity holes there is on the river and they treated me with so much re­spect,” said Lu­cas, who re­ceived a check for $101,500. “They never moved in on me and just let me do my thing and that made the dif­fer­ence in me win­ning this tour­na­ment. They’re awe­some peo­ple; I love Mary­land and Virginia peo­ple.”

Keith Combs (59-6), Ran­dall Tharp (58-10) and Brett Hite (56-13) placed sixth through eighth, re­spec­tively, and Jor­dan Lee was ninth with 54-11.

Alabama pro Ger­ald Swin­dle (53-6) fin­ished 10th and has a 37-point lead over Combs in the Toy­ota Bass­mas­ter An­gler of the Year race.

“It’s been a tough week,” Swin­dle said. “I caught all my fish pitch­ing a Zoom Z. Craw Jr. just punch­ing [grass] mats. To­day I just didn’t ex­e­cute.”

Fred Roum­ba­nis (513) and Clif­ford Pirch (50-11) rounded out the fi­nals field.

Pirch also caught the largest bass of the tour­na­ment, a 6-1 lunker he brought to the scales on Satur­day.

The field of 108 an­glers was nar­rowed down to 50 fol­low­ing Satur­day’s com­pe­ti­tion. Among the no­tice­able cuts were Mike Ia­conelli (53rd), Rick Clunn (69th) and Kevin VanDam (99th). Ocean City’s Fabian Ro­driguez, the only Mary­land an­gler, was 77th.

Among those that missed the cut fol­low­ing Satur­day’s com­pe­ti­tion were Greg Hack­ney (13th), Luke Clausen (14th), Tim Hor­ton (32nd), Virginia’s Ja­cob Powroznik (35th) and Skeet Reese (37th), who won the ti­tle in 2007, the last time the tour­na­ment was in Mary­land.

“I’ve been par­tic­i­pat­ing in a lot of tour­na­ments here in Charles County and I al­ways say this county def­i­nitely hosts one of the best events,” said Adrian Avena of New Jer­sey, who fin­ished 95th.

An­glers caught 181 five­fish lim­its and 1,135 to­tal fish. The live re­lease rate was 98 per­cent.

“The best freak­ing dock I’ve ever seen in my life, dude,” said Lu­cas, who lost by three ounces last time the tour came to Mary­land. “That thing is like 300 or 400 yards long and it’s the best dock in Amer­ica as far as I’m con­cerned. I might try and buy one park­ing spot. I was just hop­ing to get a check [so] to be in this po­si­tion? Un­be­liev­able.”

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID An­gler Justin Lu­cas shows off two fish from his livewell at the weigh-in on Sun­day. Lu­cas, who led ev­ery day of the tour­na­ment and fin­ished with 72 pounds 14 ounces, won the tour­na­ment.

An­gler Greg Swin­dle, who is vy­ing for An­gler of the Year hon­ors, is in­ter­viewed Sun­day at the weigh-in by em­cee Rick Mercer. Swin­dle fin­ished 10th.


Justin Lu­cas of Cal­i­for­nia nabbed his sec­ond pro win Sun­day when he won the Bass­mas­ter Elite at Po­tomac River pre­sented by Econo Lodge. Run­ner-up Ja­son Christie was more than four pounds back.

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