Winners abound on the Potomac
A large bass tournament was held on the Potomac River the weekend of June 15 to 18.
This one was organized by Fishing League Worldwide, presented by Costa Sunglasses, and hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners. I’m not sure what the difference is between organized, presented and hosted (along with numerous pros who are sponsored by some of the biggest corporate names in the business), but those words surely mean that there’s big money involved in tournament fishing and the tourism it generates.
Each of the four days of this tournament, bright and early at 6:30 a.m., anglers launched out of Smallwood State Park in Marbury. Up for grabs was more than $800,000 in total prize money. That’s a lot of
dollars at stake for just a couple of days worth of fish.
The way these tournaments work is, each day, the pro angler is randomly assigned a co-angler (which is just another word for amateur). The co-angler gets the honor of throwing his lures from the back deck and is basically along for the ride, for the pro provides the boat and gets to make the important decisions about those small details such as where to fish and how long before moving on to the next spot that really count in competitive fishing.
The co-angler portion of the tournament concludes at the end of the second day of fishing. But the pros keep fishing another two days.
The top 20 pros launch on the third day. By the fourth day, the finalists are whittled down even more to only the top 10. And those cuts are appropriately sponsored by none other than Buck Knives.
When the boats come in on the final day, the winner of the pro division will be the angler with the heaviest total weight of smallmouth and largemouth from all four days of competition. Per FLW rules, snakehead aren’t yet included in the official weigh-in, although I bet quite a few were part of the catch.
This year, Yamamoto Baits pro Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wisc., earned first place in the tournament with a four-day cumulative total of 20 bass that weighed 66 pounds 11 ounces. Every morning of the tournament, he started out at Mason’s Neck in Virginia where he’d catch good quantities of bass to get him to the five-bass limit quickly. Then he’d head to a spot in Quantico Bay in Virginia about four feet deep with clean weeds where he’d catch the big ones that really helped push his total weight to the top of the rankings.
It comes as no surprise that the Yamamoto Baits pro caught most of his fish on a black-andblue-colored swimjig with a Yamamoto Baits Flappin’ Hog trailer.
It was his first FLW tour victory and he was rewarded for his efforts with a cool $100,200 check.
“I’ve won a lot of tournaments and awards over the years, but never an FLW Tour event. I could die tomorrow and be a happy man,” Monsoor said of his win according to the FLW website.
I’m sure he doesn’t want to leave this world just yet as he still has a lot of fishing to do.
This was the final leg of the FLW tour and
Monsoor won’t be fishing in the championship tournament held later this summer in Columbia, S.C., but I’m sure he has plans to enjoy being the champion for the time being and figure out how he’s going to spend his winnings.
Other notable winners from the tournament include Chad Warren, from Sand Springs, Okla., who came in second with 20 bass that weighed just 5 ounces shy of first.
Bryan Thrift of Selby, N.C. was named the 2017 FLW Tour Angler of the Year. Thrift was awarded $100,000 for that honor and will automatically get
a spot in the 2018 Forrest Wood Cup.
Ryan Cannon, of Bullard, Texas, took home $20,000 for his win in the co-angler division with a two-day catch of 10 bass that weighed 33 pounds 6 ounces. And Gary Haraguchi of Redding, Calif., won the FLW Tour Co-Angler of the Year, which got him a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
The FLW tournament on the Potomac will be televised on NBC Sports Network from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 20. FLW holds nearly 300 fishing tournaments a year and awards
millions of dollars in prize money. If you’re wondering why “Worldwide” is part of the company’s moniker, FLW is a busy corporation that also sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. I wonder what kind of fish they target in China and South Korea. My guess is snakehead.
Your memory isn’t deceiving you if you think there are less big tournaments on the tidal Potomac this year than in years past. And if you ask me, it’s a good thing for the fish. A total of 160 pros and 152 co-anglers took to the water on
the first day of the FLW tournament, and by the end of the four-day event, a total of 2,855 bass were weighed in.
That number doesn’t reflect the total number of bass that were caught and culled before weigh-in. FLW recommends that anglers take precautions to stave off fish mortality with properly aerated livewells and deducts four ounces from the total weight for any dead fish presented at weigh-in.
The guys fishing these tournaments are professionals and know how important it is to keep the water in their livewell tanks cool. They took safety one step further and only used non-piercing clips to keep the health of the bass — our bass — priority No. 1.
And those fish that spent a long hot day riding around on the Potomac in a livewell before being culled and released? It would be my sincere wish to see the fish limit in bass tournaments decrease from five to three. That would mean fewer fish spending hours in water with less-than-ideal temperature and oxygen content, which would give those smaller bass a better chance of survival after release.