“What the heck is that?”  “Who are you and what do you do?”  “What are you doing in these parts?”  These are actual statements I heard from the general public while on my most recent trip through Pennsylvania and the northern parts of Virginia and Maryland, while driving to the Potomac River for the last stop of the year for the FLW Tour.

I have never in my life had more people do a double take, ask for an autograph or a photo op than I did while on this trip.  It seemed as if I was the circus rolling through town on my way to the next stop.  Maybe it was because I am famous (not) or maybe it was because my truck and boat looked supersized on the tiny back roads leading into old school downtown settings.  When I say tiny roads, I am not kidding…  The roads in those parts are two thirds the size of normal roads.  When it came time to visit a store, I had to get creative when it came to parking or turning around because of a missed turn.  There were definitely some stressful situations because of the size of my rig.  In one instance, if it wasn’t for an accidental encounter with one of the nicest guys in the world (Stewart, or Stu as he told me to call him) opening a gate for me,  I would have had to drive nearly a half mile in reverse to get to a place I could turn around.  Thank you Stu!  I hope you enjoy the sample pack of Fish Allure you earned for helping me out.

The good points of the trip were shop owners who would spend the time to talk to you for what seemed hours on end.  These people were friendly!  The bad points were seeing all the Mom and Pop shops that had recently closed in these areas.  Building and sign were still there, but nothing inside.  One store had a sign displayed in the window, stating “many thanks to all of our loyal customers over the last 25 years.  It is with a sad heart we are closing our doors, thanks for the memories.”  It is hard to believe there were 10 to 15 shops on this trip who were no longer in the business of selling bait and tackle.

Now on to fishing – the Potomac River is one of the coolest places in the country to fish.  However, because of the tidal influence, it can also be tough to pinpoint the fish.  Here today and gone tomorrow is the common theme of fishing on the Potomac.  During practice I struggled the first day, figured it out on the second day and then struggled again the third day.  A couple baits of choice for the river were top water frog (both slow and fast moving), a crankbait and a small soft plastic flipping bait with a light tungsten weight.

I found several patterns that worked.  2 primary and 2 secondary patterns.  Although tides would put a damper on all of it as I could never seem to get in the right place at the right time.  Primary pattern number 1 was a Chartreuse ima shaker crankbait with shad Fish Allure tabs on each side.  While most of the field fished mainly clear water, I chose to fish way up Aquia Creek, where the water was extremely muddy.  Fish were positioned on wood cover and would ambush the crankbait as it went by in the current.  I believe the Fish Allure tabs helped because the fish were swallowing the crankbait deep in their gullet.  I definitely appealed to all the fish’s senses (we call it completing the triangle – sight/sound/scent).  Tournament day, because of the draw number I had, the tide was out of whack with where the fish needed to be positioned.  In essence, I had too much water on the wood cover to make this presentation successful.  I tried it anyway on day 1 and failed miserably.  Primary pattern number 2 was to fish a frog – frog of choice was the Optimum Ferbit in black with a Frog Magic Fish Allure tab on the underside lead weight and Zman Hard Leg Frogz in Watermelon Red.  The one two punch was to get the fish to react with the fast moving Zman Frog and if the fish missed the bait after showing itself, throw back on it with the slower moving Ferbit.  Once again, this did not work well as conditions for these presentations were off just a little.  Overall both days I struggled, but put a few fish in the boat, one on the ima shaker crankbait (with Fish Allure tabs) and the rest with the Zman Hard Leg Frogz.  A neat little deal was uncovered both in practice and panned out in the tournament.  If you found a standalone duck blind with deeper water (16 inches or more), a decent fish could be caught.  I caught a few solid fish in the event off of these duck blinds.

Bottom line, was it was fun but tournament success was not to be had by me at this event.  This was also my last FLW Tour event of the year – I can’t believe the year is already over.  Now that the season is over I can reflect on how the journey went.  It was a ride filled with ups and downs.  I learned a ton and hope to be able to be back in the front of the boat in 2018 for my sophomore season.  Lastly, many thanks to all who supported me during the 2017 campaign.  Big thanks goes out to my family – Thank you for your understanding and support this year, it was tough being away from home for longer periods of time, but your support made it easier. Last but not least, a HUGE thank you to the Muny family, owners of Fish Allure.  THANK YOU for your gracious support, which without it, I would not have been able to follow my dream and make it a reality.