Friday, September 30, 2011

FLW EverStart Potomac River Day 2: Schmitt Takes Day 2!

Stevens grabs top spot in Co-angler Division during second day of EverStart Series Northern Division competition
30.Sep.2011 by Gary Mortenson
MARBURY, Md. – Heading into the 2011 EverStart Series Potomac River event, Bryan
Schmitt of Deale, Md., felt pretty good about his chances. After all, he was fishing in his home waters and had a track record on the Potomac River that was virtually unmatched. However, all of that optimism went out the window when he awoke Thursday morning to get ready for the first day of EverStart competition.

Bryan Schmitt figures out the largemouth bite.
(Photos: Garty Motenson FLW)

“I got up on Thursday and I was feeling pretty bad. I was really pretty sick,” said Schmitt.
Despite feeling ill, Schmitt gave it a yeoman’s effort, finishing the day in fourth place overall with a total catch of 16 pounds, 4 ounces. But while he felt good about the day-one results, his relief was short lived.
“I got up this morning and I was even sicker than the day before,” said Schmitt. “Basically, my fiancĂ©e had to kick me out of bed this morning because I was seriously thinking about not fishing. I was shivering all day and just felt horrible.”
Although Schmitt may have felt horrible, by the end of the day, the rest of the pro competition was feeling a lot worse after witnessing the on-the-water masterpiece that the Maryland native produced. By the end of Friday’s competition, Schmitt had leapfrogged three places to claim first place overall with a two-day catch of 32 pounds, 6 ounces.
“I’m just very thankful,” said Schmitt. “I won this tournament last year and I really want to win it again. I just hope I don’t jinx it.”

To say that Schmitt is a master on the Potomac River is a bit of an understatement. He took fourth place at the FLW Tour event here a few months ago, finished in first place during the 2010 EverStart event, finished in fifth place at the 2009 EverStart tourney, placed second during the 2008 EverStart contest and has finished in the top 10 in 12 FLW Outdoors events on the Potomac River since 2006. After today, that number has grown to 13.
So what’s his secret?
“Knowing this area really helps,” said Schmitt. “You can fish a spot at the wrong tide and never know the fish are even there, so you really have to check out all of your areas during both tides to see how good your spots really are. I also use a custom-made jig that works really well here and that helps.”
Schmitt said that he employed his black-and-blue custom jig throughout the day, flipping towards “sparse” grass clumps in 3 to 4 feet of water. And he plans on doing largely the same thing tomorrow, assuming he can get out of bed.
“I’m going to give it all I have in the finals,” he said. “If I’m blessed with good bites, I have a real good chance at winning this title.”
McDonald, Johnston tie for second
Bolstered by identical two-day catches weighing in at 30 pounds, 13 ounces, Cory Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, and Mike McDonald of Randleman, N.C., found themselves deadlocked in second place. However, although they both found themselves in similar positions, it didn’t mean that they shared the same level of enthusiasm for their respective performances.
Canadian pro, Cory Johnston sits in second. His year
has been so hot, he shouldn't be counted out.
“I’m disappointed actually,” said Johnston, who was alone in second place after the first day of competition with a 17-pound, 7-ounce catch. “I caught a lot of 2 ½-pound fish today, but I just couldn’t get those big 4- and 5-pound bites. The fish moved out today on the low tide, which they didn’t do yesterday so it took me awhile to even find them. During the last hour I was able to locate my fish but it didn’t leave me enough time to get as big of a stringer as I wanted to get.”
Johnston said that he targeted bass with topwater frogs during most of today’s competition.
“I caught all of my fish on the frog today but with the cold front coming in, I probably won’t be able to use that bait too much tomorrow. I’m most likely going to have to pick up a jig and target the thick grass mats, docks and rocks because those place are going to hold the most heat.”
While Johnston said he was at least pleased that he’s still a major factor in the title chase, he also knows that Schmitt will be a force to be reckoned with on Saturday.
“I don’t like the fact that Bryan is ahead of me right now,” he said. “Bryan is a great fisherman and he’s tough on the Potomac. But he’s a good friend of mine and it’s kind of neat that we’re in first and second place together. We’ll just have to see how tomorrow goes.
As for McDonald, the North Carolina native said he couldn’t be happier with where he is in the standings.
“I know this river like the back of my hand and I’m pretty happy to be tied (for second) right now,” he said. “I have about 15 spots that are working out really well so far and another 10 I haven’t even been to yet. I’ve got plenty of fish left and I’m on a good pattern, so I’m feeling pretty confident right now.”
McDonald said he’s targeting a combination of grass, wood and rock with Senkos and jigs. However, he said the key is figuring out when to make a move and when to stick around.
“Everything changed today,” he said. “I went to my lily pad field early, caught two fish and stayed until 10 a.m. Then I went to my hard-cover spots, isolated wood and rocks, and it was on. After that, I really started to get the feeling that I can win this thing. Overall, I think I’m in pretty good shape. But it’s going to be a real shootout tomorrow. I think it should be fun though. I’m charged up and ready to go.”
Best of the rest
Lance Vick of Mineola, Texas, finished the day in fourth place after landing a total catch of 29 pounds, 13 ounces.
“I’m really not from around here and I’m not used to fishing this type of water,” he said. “But man, I really love this place. I love fishing here.”
Rounding out the top-five pro competitors is Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa. Lefebre, despite entering the tournament at the last minute and having only one day of practice, used a two-day catch of 29 pounds, 11 ounces to grab fifth place overall.
“I’ve been playing a little bit of catch-up so far because I didn’t have a lot of practice time,” said Lefebre. “But I think I finally figured some stuff out. I’m pretty happy to be where I’m at. Hopefully I’ll have a chance tomorrow.”
Rick Tilley of Moneta, Va., won the day’s big bass award in the Pro Division with a 5-pound, 12-ounce largemouth.

Stevens snares first place in Co-angler Division
Terry Stevens of Sterling, Va., used a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 1 ounce to move up one place from yesterday and grab the overall lead in the Co-angler Division.
“I feel very blessed and lucky to be here,” said Stevens. “I was 17th on the waiting list and I told my wife that if God wants me to be here, I’ll be here. Obviously, everything worked out.”
Stevens said he couldn’t be more pleased by his performance so far.
“It was a great day,” Stevens continued. “I had good partners both days and that always helps. I also just really enjoy this river. This is my home water and I fish it quite regularly, so I feel very comfortable here.”
Stevens said that he’s targeted grass “all the way around,” fishing in approximately 3 to 5 feet of water with a combination of swim baits and topwater frogs.
“This is only the second EverStart tournament I’ve ever fished and the only one I’ve fished this year so I’m pretty happy right now.”
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-five co-anglers after the second day of competition:
2nd: Robert Gerber of The Plains, Va., 25-3
3rd: Jerry Pyles of Middletown, Md., 25-1
4th: Robert Wedding of Welcome, Md., 24-7
5th: Vince Denina of Willis, Texas, (tie) and John Robinson of Fairfax, Va., 24-5
Denina also won the day’s big bass award in the Co-angler Division after landing a 5-pound, 7-ounce largemouth.
EverStart Series action continues with Saturday’s final takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Smallwood State Park, located at 2750 Sweden Point Road in Marbury, Md.
However, despite his good fortune so far, Stevens was very close to missing out on the tournament altogether.

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