County hosting national fishing tournament this week
FLW Tour regular season finishes up this weekend
The Fishing League Worldwide Tour will conclude its season with a local event on the Potomac River this week, where pros will battle for a $125,000 prize and a spot in the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup.
Competitors will take off from Smallwood State Park in Marbury at 6:30 a.m. each day of the fourday tour and return each afternoon for weigh-ins.
The final contest of the regular season for the professional bass fishing league will have a total purse of more than $800,000 and include 320 pros and co-anglers from around the country.
Local talent Bryan Schmitt of Deale is looking to build on last month’s victory on the Mississippi River in his return to the area.
“I got a lot of momentum going right now, I think we’re in for a good fishing week,” Schmitt said. “I love traveling, but I’m always ready to get back home. To be able to fish a big tournament and sleep in my own bed, that’s a lot of fun.”
Schmitt has 10 tournament wins over his five years on the FLW Tour and earned $125,000 for his recent win.
The FLW Tour competition randomly couples pros and co-anglers each day, with the former providing and steering the boat and the latter fishing off the back deck. Beginning on Thursday, co-anglers will go against each other over two days for a $25,000 prize, concluding their event with a weigh-in on Friday. Pros will face off versus fellow pros on Thursday and Friday, with the top 20 finishers moving on to Saturday. From there the top 10 pros advance to Sunday and the winner is decided by the heaviest four-day total.
This week’s event will be the last opportunity for anglers to make a push for the Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of pro bass fishing. Pros accumulate points based on performance during the regular season in order to qualify for the postseason competition. Schmitt finished 46th in last year’s championship, his first appearance in the Cup.
Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, won the last FLW Tour event on the Potomac two years ago, finishing with a total of 60 pounds in 2015.
“It’s always been one of my very favorite places to come in the whole country,” Wendlandt said. “I just like the history there, and I think the fishery is about as dynamic as any shallow water fishery we’ve ever fished.”
In addition to the tournament, there will be a free FLW Expo before weigh-ins on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Fans will get to interact with tour pros and take part in activities and giveaways offered by FLW sponsors.
Kids can also partake in the free FLW Foundation Unified Fishing Derby at Smallwood State Park on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. Participants who are 18 years of age and younger as well as Special Olympics athletes of all ages are invited to join Cody Kelley and other pros for the event, with equipment provided to the first 50 participants.