- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 10, 2002

MARBURY, Md. When the three-day Maryland Bassmaster Northern Open began Thursday, Wally Szuba thought everybody in the 404-man contingent of professional and amateur competitors would bring in heavy limits of bass from the tidal Potomac River.

"I didn't have any problem finding willing fish," the affable North Carolinian said. He later discovered that a majority of the anglers encountered plenty of trouble just locating, never mind hooking, fish.

Yesterday, Szuba, a gentle man not given to bragging, did it again. He used a willow leaf-bladed spinnerbait and worked the whirling lure along the edges and between open pockets of massive aquatic grass beds south of the tournament's headquarter waters, the Mattawoman Creek.

Szuba returned to Smallwood State Park with five bass that weighed 15 pounds, 10 ounces, which included the biggest bass of the day at 6 pounds, 12 ounces. He now has a two-day total of 30 pounds, 8 ounces and today will head a list of 50 professionals and 50 amateurs who made the cut in the $320,950 tournament.

Szuba could very well be the man to beat on this final day if he continues to work his special kind of magic on the tidal largemouths. However, two professional tour anglers from Virginia, Curt Lytle and Chris Daves, are not far behind.

Lytle, who comes from Suffolk, had the biggest haul yesterday with five largemouths that weighed 173/4 pounds. Daves, the son of former world bass fishing champion Woo Daves, who lives in Spring Grove, put 16 pounds, 9 ounces of bass into the weigh basket.

Szuba, Lytle and Daves are close enough that the vagaries of fishing alone might dictate the outcome. And if poor fortune visits all three, the man who now sits in fourth place, David Hall of Kunkletown, Pa., could become a fishing star. Hall now has 26-1 pounds.

Lytle said, "I found one spot on the river [filled with bass] and I'll be there all day Saturday." He alluded to the poor day his amateur angler in the back of the boat will have when he said with a smile, "My partner will mostly be looking at my back." It means Lytle has a spot that allows him to point the boat toward the productive area and his boatmate will have slim pickings in the stern.

Daves, who normally doesn't say a lot, simply said, "I went to a couple of new places and everything went right. It was one of those days." Bystanders agree that Daves is using Zoom plastic baits in river weed beds.

Szuba entered the day in second place just two ounces behind first-day leader Ken McIntosh. McIntosh brought in only 9-6 and fell to 10th heading into today's final round.

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