- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

MARBURY, Md. [-] Perhaps Ken McIntosh ought to quit the professional bass tour more often.

"I stopped fishing over a year ago," McIntosh said, "and now my back is hurting because I haven't done this in some time."

What he did yesterday during the first day of the Maryland Bassmaster Northern Open was what 403 other competitors wished they had done: catch a heavy enough limit of bass to lead the $320,950 Potomac River event.

McIntosh, from Pierceton, Ind., brought a five-bass legal limit back to the weigh stand at Smallwood State Park along Charles County's Mattawoman Creek that weighed an even 15 pounds, which isn't bad considering many of the professionals and amateurs competing in this tournament have complained that the Potomac simply isn't the fishery it used to be.

Not Wally Szuba, of Cary, N.C., though. "No way," said the Carolinian defending the Potomac. "I'm only two ounces behind McIntosh? Great. I think I can catch another limit doing what I did."

Several years ago, McIntosh placed second in a Bass Angler Sportsman Society tournament on the Potomac, casting small plastic worms on very light line into various clear waters near the Blue Plains Waste Treatment Facility, upstream of Wilson Bridge. This time, he went to heavier gear.

"I used 20-pound test line and I flipped a 3/8-ounce Yamamoto jig and grub upriver," he said. By that he probably meant he was in the same general area that turned up previous catches. The bass pros are a secretive lot, leaving some surprised that he told as much as he did.

Szuba also was open about his methods. "I was casting three different types of spinnerbaits along the edges of weed beds and the bass did the rest," he said. "The big difference for me was moving water. As long as the tide was moving, I caught fish."

Szuba's attitude is refreshing. More than one of his fellow anglers griped about the water being too high most of the day and their catches reflected their negative outlook as dozens of competitors checked in only one or two bass.

Maryland's Aaron Hastings isn't far behind McIntosh and Szuba. Hastings, who lives in Boonesboro (Washington County), had five bass that weighed 14 pounds, 11 ounces.Hastings' explanation for his catches was, "The tides made no difference." But he allowed that during high tide he fished two shallow-running crankbaits across grassy spots. One of them was the Mann's Baby 1-Minus, the other a B-1, by Brian's Crankbaits. "It's like a 1-Minus," said Hastings.

Today the field of 404 will do its best to make a cut not unlike golf. Tomorrow, the final day of the tournament, the top 50 professionals and the top 50 amateurs will compete.

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