Win­ners abound on the Po­tomac

Maryland Independent - - Sports -

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.

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