Pledge To Pitch It – FLW Tour
Earlier this month, the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Tour visited Smallwood State Park. Nestled along the Maryland shoreline of the Potomac River, it provided the perfect venue on one of America’s most historic fisheries. Since it was just a short drive from Keep America Fishing headquarters, I decided to check it out.
Amidst the sounds of outboard motors and shouts from enthusiastic anglers netting bass, a new movement is growing. It’s a commitment to keeping our waterways clean, and an act that will protect the sport for future generations. It all begins with a simple, yet powerful pledge.
In January of this year, FLW partnered with Keep America Fishing in supporting the Pledge To Pitch It campaign. Designed to keep our waters clear of used and worn-out soft plastic baits, I witnessed FLW’s conservation efforts first-hand.
Using special bins labeled “Soft Plastics Recycling,” they collect old baits at sanctioned events nationwide. In doing so, FLW provides competing anglers and the public a convenient place to dispose of their soft plastics.
Reaching the parking lot, rows of the most beautifully rigged trucks stretched as far as the eye can see. The excitement fills the air as you see the signatures of some of the biggest names in the sport nestled on the wrapped vehicles: Florida’s Scott Martin, son of legendary Roland Martin, local favorite Bryan Schmitt, and Clark Wendlandt, winner last time the Tour came to the Potomac in 2015.
Easing closer, the tournament stage comes into view, and the mc takes to the mic, announcing that the weigh-in has officially started. Escorted by golf carts from the boats tied off along the docks, the anglers quickly filter in. The efficiency of the weigh-in is evident from start to finish, all with the goal of minimizing stress on the fish. While the anglers wait to weigh their best five bass, holding tanks lined with oxygen tubes and supplied with fresh bags of ice ensure the fish have the best water quality possible.
During the weigh-in, anglers emptied their pockets of used baits and transferred filled bags of plastics to the bins. It was a rewarding feeling to see public participation as well. Popular Potomac River favorites such as worms, swimbaits and crawfish imitators were pitched into recycling bins in the name of conservation.
The Potomac River showed how healthy its waters have become in the past couple years. Grass beds are plentiful, baitfish populations are high, and as the weights confirmed, the bass fishery is quite strong as well. In fact, after Day 1, 13 pounds, an “okay” single day weight by many standards, wasn’t enough to land an angler in the Top 100 of the 161 boats. Clark Wendlandt found himself in the lead with 19 pounds, 11 ounces, but would fall from the hot seat on Day 2 to the likes of Tom Monsoor.
Beginning on Day 2, Tom Monsoor exchanged blows with Brandon McMillan, an experienced grass fisherman with victories on fisheries like world-renowned Lake Okeechobee. Although gaining ground with back giant bags of 20-7 and 19-7, McMillan fell short on the final day with an 11 pound, 11 ounce bag. Congratulations to Mr. Monsoor on the hard fought victory!
With the regular season wrapped up, the top FLW Tour anglers prepare for August’s Forrest Wood Cup, where 53 anglers will battle it out for the top prize of $300,000. A huge “Thank You” to FLW and all of its tournament anglers for their dedication to preserving our waterways. Together, we can Keep America Fishing!
Keep America Fishing