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Best Bass Anglers compete on the Potomac

Marbury, MD- Hundreds of anglers are fishing the Potomac River this weekend in hopes of collecting thousands of dollars in prize money.

The Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) is hosting its regular season finale at Smallwood State Park in Charles County. Three hundred and twenty professional anglers and co-anglers are trying to reel in the biggest bass they can find along the mighty Potomac. Up for grabs is the top prize of $125,000.

The FLW is the most competitive professional bass fishing circuit in the country. This year, all eyes are on Marylander Bryan Schmitt of Deale. He won the last event along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin and he’s expected to out-perform the other pros while fishing here in his home waters. He has 20 career top-10 finishes on the Potomac River in FLW competition.

Fishing his home waters gives Schmitt a competitive advantage. “He understands the variables along this waterway, from the tides to understanding the habitat and even fish pattern and movement. For many anglers, it can simply come down to instinct,” Brian Johnson, communication specialist explained.                                                Photo courtesy FLW

After the first day, Schmitt sits in 28th place. He reeled in five bass Thursday, June 15 with a combined weight of 16 pounds, two ounces.

The last time the FLW fished the Potomac was back in 2015. Clark Wendlandt of Texas won that event and after the first day of the four-day competition, he’s leading with a combined weight of 19 pounds, 11 ounces.

The professional anglers competing in this seven-series tour come from across the globe, including Canada, Japan and Australia. Competition fishing is more than just a weekend hobby for many of these anglers. It is a full time job with thousands of dollars invested in their equipment along with hundreds of hours researching the local waterways, previous events and techniques that seem to work well.

Andy Morgan has been a professional angler since 2003. “I’m an original tour member since it started back in 1996.” Morgan said growing up in Tennessee, fishing was a way of life. “The little community I’m from in Dayton revolves around fishing. It’s right along the Tennessee River and there wasn’t a lot else (sic) to do growing up except hunting or fishing.”

Currently, Morgan is in second place in the point standings on the tour, “It’s been a good year for me. Today was a good day, I brought in just over 15 pounds.”

This event has anglers fishing for the five biggest bass and the four-day cumulative weight. On Saturday, only the top 20 will continue to compete. On Sunday, that will be narrowed down to the top ten.

Morgan said if you have considered competing, the FLW is the place to start. “We have all levels of competition. The FLW has started more professional fisherman than any other major circuit.”

Throughout the season, anglers are vying for points in hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world Championship of professional bass fishing. John Cox is the defending champ of the Forrest Wood Cup.

The total payout for this weekend’s event is $800,000. “Anglers want to be in the top third of the event because the 50th place spot takes home a check of $10,000.” Johnson explained.

The competition continues all weekend at Smallwood State Park. Saturday and Sunday weigh-ins start at 3 p.m. For more information and to follow the standings, click here.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

Editor’s note- The fish caught in the competition are returned to the water after weigh-in. The FLW has a 98 percent live release rate.

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