Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 BFL All-American

A couple of weeks ago I competed in the 2012 BFL All-American.  For those who may not know, this is the pinnacle of tournaments for the weekend angler.  Even though I normally compete in professional level tournaments, I still like to compete in FLW Outdoors BFL series, which is a Saturday only tournament circuit. Which if an angler is fortunate enough, can ultimately qualify for the All-American.  To put the All-American into perspective, after qualifying for the event, I had several friends who also fish professionally call me and congratulate me on qualifying.  The All-American is commonly referred to as one of the most difficult tournaments to qualify for.
This year the tournament was held on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.  Initially I was pretty excited about going to the Potomac, it's full of grass and also has an incredible fish population.I later learned that we would be limited to fishing only the upper portion of the river, starting from the Woodrow Wilson bridge and heading upstream (basically the entire downtown portion of Washington, D.C.).  This area is absolutely devoid of vegetation, but ultimately someone is going to win, so it was an even playing field for everyone.  An angler is allowed one official practice day, so having not went and pre-practiced prior to the off-limits period, I knew I had a lot of ground to cover in a very short amount of time.

Practice went surprisingly well, although we didn't try to catch many fish (when practicing for a tournament the day before competition, hooking fish can be detrimental), we shook quite a few off and caught several nice ones when we did decide to set the hook. Overall, I was pleased with what we had found. On a side note, the D.C. area has a bit of history on every corner.  With this being my first trip to the area, I snapped a few pics during they are:

The Washington Monument
The Pentagon
Reagan International

As you leave the Pentagon Lagoon, you go under a bridge out into the Potomac, and directly across the river is the Washington Monument.  Just down river a few miles is Reagan International, the pictures do not due the experience any justice.  The jets at Reagan International passed overhead by maybe 200 feet.  It was loud! They arrived at the rate of one about every 5-7 minutes, at times you could see as many as three jets in a row staging to come land.  Pretty wild stuff.

Day 1
Prior to take-off, David Brown, the man responsible for FLW's media coverage stopped by and chatted, here's what we talked about Day One Morning story .  On day one of the event we were boat 45 out of 49, so most of the promising areas we had found the day before were covered up with boats.  We ended up starting in an are where we had caught a couple of nice keepers and shook several others off.  I caught several fish right after arriving, but only two were keepers.  The fish were positioned down in the middle of a series of laydowns, through the course of the day, I lost a few fish, before I could get them out of the center of the laydowns.  But that's fishing, when dealing with heavy cover, you're going to lose a few.  Total weight for Day 1 was four fish weighing 8lbs 6oz.
Prior to take-off Day 1 -photo courtesy of David Brown FLW Outdoors

Day 2
Knowing I needed to make up some ground, rather than moving around as much as I had on day one, I decided to stay put in one area and try to grind out a solid limit. Due to the angling pressure the area I had chosen was receiving, I dropped down to a Lunker Lure Shakee head with a green pumpkin Zoom trick worm.  I generated enough bites to have done well again on day two, but execution was my downfall.  I failed to boat two nice keepers that I had hooked and up to the boat.  Ultimately they would not have propelled me into the top ten cut, but would've put me into the next higher check range. I ended the day with three keepers that weighed 7lbs 15oz. 

Conversing with fellow angler Duane Snyder prior to take off on day 2 - photo courtesy of David Brown FLW Outdoors

I finished the event in 24th place overall.  I learned a lot about tidal water, which was a new experience for me, so should I run into that situation again, at least I have an idea about how to deal with it. I was blessed to have qualified for the event. many anglers go their whole fishing careers and never have the opportunity to fish the All-American.  So in that respect I'm thankful for the chance to have competed, Lord willing it won't be my last.  Before I go, I failed to mention that at no other event have I seen the anglers catered to as this event. From golf cart rides to and from the dock, to the meals that were provided, it was an awesome experience to say the least.
God Bless,

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