MARBURY, Md. — Fast growing grass may be the bane of the suburban homeowner who'd rather do anything other than yard work, but to a largemouth bass, there's no such thing as too much greenery.
Carpets of grass as far as the eye could see were the theme of the week at the 2007 Capital Clash presented by Advance Auto Parts.
The nation's river, once bereft of virtually any living thing, is now a vibrant ecosystem that is best exemplified by its lush grassbeds and the bass that live in them.
"I've never seen this much grass on the Potomac until recently," said Maryland pro Grant Goldbeck, who has fished the river for over 15 years.
"But that's when we started seeing these bigger bags. Before it used to be you could catch some on scattered wood and some in the grass, all sorts of different patterns. But they congregate under the mats now. The Potomac is starting to get like Lake Champlain, where you can catch 50 fish in 25 minutes, sometimes without moving the boat."
The familiar refrain when the pros crossed the stage was frogs and flipping mats. While some anglers might have found other options, those presentations dominated.
As Florida pro Chris Lane said: "There are always other options, but the question is whether they'll pay off. In my opinion, to be competitive you have to flip and throw a frog. When there's this much thick grass, it's what the fish use for cover."
Given the fact that the one-two frog and flip attack dominated the headlines, we quizzed the Top 12 pros to find out what lures and other tools they relied on most this week.
We asked them: 1. What was your most productive lure this week? 2. Did any other lures produce fish for you? What piece of equipment made the biggest difference in your success?
Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif. (1st place, 66 pounds)
Most Productive Lure? A green pumpkin Berkley Power Hawg with a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight and a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook.
Secondary Lures? A green pumpkin Berkley Sabertail Burly Bug with a 1-ounce tungsten weight and a 5/0 Reaction Innovations BMF hook and a Lucky Craft BDS2 crankbait.
Most Valuable Equipment? All of it. Everything is a key component from my Lowrance electronics to my Champion boat to my Motorguide trolling motor, my rods, my hooks and my line. If you don't have the right components, nothing works.
Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas (2nd place, 57-7)
Most Productive Lure? A Lake Fork Tackle Craw Tube in Junebug with a 1-ounce Lake Fork Tackle Mega-Weight and a 5/0 Owner Wide Gap Plus hook. It's the best bait I know for flipping mats. Big ones bite it better. All of the big ones I caught this week were on the craw tube.
Secondary Lures? I caught some fish on a Lake Fork Tackle Kicker Craw, the bait I used to win last year. It's slimmer, so it's sometimes better for hitting the really, really thick stuff. I used the same weight and a 5/0 offset extra strong hook.
Most Valuable Equipment? My Fenwick Techna AV 7 foot, 9 inch flipping stick. It's lighter and has a better action than any other flipping stick on the market. It's a one-piece model.
Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas (3rd place, 56-2)
Most Productive Lure? A ½-ounce Booyah spinnerbait with very small gold willowleaf blades and a gold shiner skirt, fished on the outside grassline.
Secondary Lures? A Yum Big Show Craw in Cooter Brown with a 1-ounce tungsten weight and a 5/0 straight shank hook.
Most Valuable Equipment? My XPS fluorocarbon line. I fished the spinnerbait real slow, just fast enough so I could feel the blades spinning and that line allowed me to stay in contact with the lure.
Randy Howell, Springville, Ala. (4th place, 55-5)
Most Productive Lure? A green pumpkin Berkley Chigger Craw with a 1 ½-ounce Molix tungsten weights. The little ones are out on the market and the big ones will be out soon. I used a 4/0 Daiichi XPoint hook. That produced about 85 per cent of my fish.
Secondary Lures? The first day I caught a few good ones on a small brown/orange Lunker Lure jig. I weighed one here and there on different baits, like a topwater twitch bait.
Most Valuable Equipment? My 50 pound Spiderwire Stealth braided line. In that heavy hydrilla, you couldn't get a hook in them and get them out of the mats with anything else. It's Teflon coated and comes through the thick grass better than other lines. It's awesome stuff.
Chris Lane, Winter Haven, Fla. (5th place, 54-12)
Most Productive Lure? A Bowen's Silver Gambler BB Cricket with a 1-ounce XPS tungsten weight on a 3/0 Gamakatsu straight shank hook. It really gets under the mats nicely.
Secondary Lures? A white Gambler Cane Toad on a 5/0 Gamakatsu hook and a Zara Spook.
Most Valuable Equipment? My Power Pole. It enabled me to stop when the tide going out and not have to hit the trolling motor, which can spook the fish.
Charlie Hartley, Grove City, Ohio (6th place, 53-3)
Most Productive Lure? A 3/8-ounce green pumpkin Chatterbait with a matching Venom Sweet Dream creature bait as a trailer over scattered grass.
Secondary Lures? A Venom Salty Sling, Venom Slingipede and a 7-inch ribbontail worm. I used those primarily when the sun was up, around docks and laydowns.
Most Valuable Equipment? I'm not even sponsored by them, but I'd have to say my Power Pole. People think it's only for bed fishing, but it's really about boat control. When I'd fish a dock I could hold my boat in place and not scare the fish. It has caught me so many fish this year, it's worth its weight in gold.
Boyd Duckett, Demopolis, Ala. (7th place, 51-15)
Most Productive Lure? A black/blue Berkley Chigger Craw with a 1 1/2-ounce Tru Tungsten weight and a 4/0 Owner straight shank hook.
Secondary Lures? A Berkley Wacky Crawler splitshotted on the outside grasslines.
Most Valuable Equipment? My new prototype E21 Boyd Duckett series rods. They're absolutely bad-ass. It took months and months to get them right, but now they have the ultimate actions. The flipping stick I used has enough tip to feel the weight but enough backbone to get the fish out of the grass.
Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla. (8th place, 51-8)
Most Productive Lure? A black neon Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver with a ¾-ounce Tru Tungsten weight and a 4/0 BMF hook. The beaver is better than all the rest of the similar baits. They say it's the way it falls with a lighter sinker, but with the heavier sinker they still bite it, even though it moves so fast by them.
Secondary Lures? A black SPRO frog in the early mornings, but after the first day I didn't throw it much.
Most Valuable Equipment? My signature series 7 foot, 6 inch flipping stick from Quantum. It has a real, real heavy action. It's a whole lot stiffer than anyone else's flipping rod. It's awesome when you have to use that big weight.
Grant Goldbeck, Gaithersburg, Md. (9th place, 50-12)
Most Productive Lure? A ¼-ounce Bass Stalker root beer finesse jig. It's a standup head and it looks really natural in the water. The water wasn't super, super stained where I was fishing so that was important.
Secondary Lures? A Berkley blue fleck Power Worm. I weighed in four fish on it today. I used a ¼-ounce Tru Tungsten weight and a 3/0 Owner offset worm hook.
Most Valuable Equipment? Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon line. I used a variety from eight to 12 pound test. I was fishing around some steel beams and grates and when I hooked a fish I had to get it up four feet over them. I caught one this week that was six pounds on 8 lb. test with no problems. I was fishing out to 22 feet and had no problem with hook-sets because it has very little stretch in deep water. And seeing that it was clear where I was fishing, that was another advantage.
Bill Lowen, North Bend, Ohio (10th place, 49-1)
Most Productive Lure? I didn't have one. I junk fished with 10 to 12 rods on the deck just like I'd fish the Ohio River.
Secondary Lures? I used a Davis jig with a Berkley Chigger Craw in black/blue and green pumpkin; a junebug shakey worm, a four-inch green pumpkin Power Hawg and I used River 2 Sea tungsten weights. I also used a Lazer handmade balsa crankbait.
Most Valuable Equipment? The new Trilene fluorocarbon line. I used it in strengths from eight to 25 pound test. It's awesome because it just doesn't break. I'm not scared to throw it anywhere. I can throw it in places I'd only throw braid before as long as I take my time and don't get stupid.
Fred Roumbanis, Auburn, Calif. (11th place, 48-12)
Most Productive Lure? A green Snag Proof Bobby's Perfect Frog. I had my limit by 7:25 this morning. The first three days I had a limit on it at 7:00, 7:02 and 6:42.
Secondary Lures? A red Ima Lures Roumba from Japan. It's a wake bait that dives real shallow and goes over grass very well. It's awesome on low tide and on extreme high tides.
Most Valuable Equipment? My Okuma V System reels. I was able to make the longest casts my co-anglers had ever seen with the frog.
Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C. (12th place, 48-5)
Most Productive Lure? A black/blue, 4-inch JymSu Sweet Susie. It's a flipping bait with really awesome craw legs. The fish here just love it. I fished it with a 1 1/2 –ounce Tru Tungsten weight and a 4/0 BMF hook.
Secondary Lures? I had four Sweet Susies on the deck, that was it. I had to pack three bags of ice in the cooler for my elbow after flipping that heavy weight all day.
Most Valuable Equipment? My BassCat boat. It has been through so much this year and it has not let me down even one time. It's the fastest boat on the tour, too. I have GPS'ed it at 77 miles per hour full of gas and with the livewells full.