Fantasy Fishing: Pick strong tidal anglers on the Potomac

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James Overstreet

I’ve fished a few tournaments on the Potomac River and I have learned it’s a constantly changing fishery. The healthiest vegetation can change locations from year to year. It can be on the flats near creek mouths one year and on the main river the next.

Grass, however, isn’t the only cover on the Potomac holding tournament-winning bass. Hard cover, especially wood, will be a popular target for anglers as well. Skeet Reese won the 2007 Elite event on the Potomac targeting both grass and wood. Clark Wendlandt won last year’s FLW Tour event on the river fishing wood cover as well.

Regardless of the cover fished, the anglers who make it to Sunday will need to be in the right place when the feeding windows open — the windows that are so important on tidal fisheries. Anglers will have to decide whether to sit on their best spot all day hoping to catch multiple windows, or run the tide to stay in an open window as long as possible.

The entire Elite field has experience fishing tidal water, including many of the recent FLW Tour anglers who have qualified for the Elite Series over the past several years. The Potomac has been a repeat stop on the FLW Tour since 2011.

My picks are based on a combination of strong tidal-water anglers and those who are well versed to effectively fish the Potomac.

BUCKET A: POWROZNIK

Jacob Powroznik is going to be in his element on the Potomac — a northern tidal river filled with grass and hard cover. What separates Powroznik from the rest of the field is his ability to continue getting bites while sharing pressured water with other anglers. Those extra bites consistently keep him near the top of the leaderboard.

Seriously considered: Brett Hite

B. Hite is on a tear this season with three Top 10’s so far. He also finished runner-up to KVD at the recent Bassmaster Classic Bracket on the Niagara River.

Hite has won more money than any other angler on tour while fishing a vibrating jig, and he’ll certainly be fishing his confidence bait in the Potomac’s grass and wood cover.

BUCKET B: AVENA

Adrian Avena is having a strong rookie season and is currently second in the Rookie of the Year race. He grew up fishing tidal fisheries and probably has accumulated more hours fishing tidal water than most of the other anglers in the field despite his young age.

Avena can effectively fish grass, wood, and rock with many different techniques. Keep an eye out for his boat deck as it will likely be littered with an absurd amount of rods, but what may be a detriment to other anglers Avena will use to his advantage. He’ll have the right tools for the Potomac.

Seriously considered: Bill Lowen

Lowen is a highly skilled shallow water river angler who has the ability to find bass others miss. I witnessed this at the Chesapeake Bay last year when he targeted a small but obvious creek that most of the other anglers passed over during practice and the tournament.

Look for Lowen to be fishing his confidence baits — swim jigs, vibrating jigs, and his favorite river spinnerbait on the Potomac.

BUCKET C: DUCKETT

Boyd Duckett has a special ability to slow down and make the most of the productive areas he finds during practice. I’ve seen his ability to do so several times, including the 2014 Delaware River Elite event in where he caught a massive bag from the back of a small creek to lead day one of the tournament.

There’s a strong chance the field could be bunched up fishing specific grass flats on the Potomac. If Duckett finds himself sharing water I’m confident he can slow his approach and out fish many of his competitors.

Seriously considered: Cliff Crochet

Crochet is good at finding those little out-of-the-way places holding quality bass that other anglers overlook. With as much fishable water as there is on the Potomac, Crochet will find limits of fish, especially because grass is his strength.

BUCKET D: MYERS

Britt Myers showcased his shallow water tidal fishing skills earlier this year when he won on Winyah Bay, so he definitely popped out at me as I scanned through the anglers in Bucket D.

I also like his drive to compete. On several occasions, I’ve noticed he’s one of the first to arrive at the launch ramp and the last to leave during practice. Practicing longer than your fellow competitors doesn’t always translate into success, but it can definitely help. Especially on the Potomac where there’s a lot of water to cover.

Seriously considered: Greg Vinson

Vinson is a seasoned shallow water river angler whose skills work well on a fishery like the Potomac. His ability to fish fast and cover water will be an asset for this event.

BUCKET E: CLAUSEN

Even though Luke Clausen is in Bucket E, and I feel he could just as easily be in Bucket A based on his fishing ability. I know he’s been through a lot and hasn’t fished up to his potential so far this season, but I believe his work ethic and confidence are still strong.

Clausen also won the 2011 Potomac FLW Tour event, which will give him some added confidence for this event.

Seriously considered: Chad Pipkens

Pipkens is a talented shallow water tidal angler who fished well last year on the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac isn’t far from the Chesapeake and fishes similar in many ways. I also like his dedicated work ethic and pre-tournament preparation. It could certainly pay off here.