- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Bass angler Kevin Waterman had a good reason for not being able to get out on the Potomac River the week before his Maryland BASS Federation's annual Mr. Bass 2002 competition got under way. A tornado powerful enough to turn much of Waterman's hometown, La Plata, into a moonscape also damaged his house. He couldn't move his boat from under the carport, and he had no electricity to charge the boat's trolling motor batteries. For a time he was grounded with far more important things to worry about than catching bass.
"He couldn't practice-fish," Francis Guy said in a bass tournament insider's reference to going out to check which areas of the tidal river promised a bounty of fish. Francis Guy's family business, Guy Brothers Marine in Clements, Md., has an angler pro staff that includes Waterman, 36. It includes a sponsorship from Evinrude Outboards and Triton bass boats.
So Waterman had to skip practice-fishing while dozens of his fellow federation members beat the water to a froth. But he did manage to show up for the May 4-5 competition, slipped his Triton into the water and methodically went about the business of hooking largemouth bass, using soft plastics and some crankbaits.
When it was over, Kevin Waterman was Mr. Bass 2002.
He won the tournament with a two-day legal limit of 10 bass that weighed 24 pounds, 14 ounces. After being tallied by federation officials, the fish were returned to the water. His nearest competitor, David Meeker, was only 1 pound, 3 ounces behind Waterman, and the third- and fourth-place finishers, Chris Sanders and Lee King, respectively, also had more than 23 pounds of bass to show for two days of fishing.
Waterman now will represent Maryland at the upcoming state federation championship in Connecticut, which could lead to a berth in the BASS Masters Classic, a kind of world championship of fishing that is underwritten and sanctioned by the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala.
The "Mr. Bass" tournament of the Maryland BASS Federation is a statewide competition in which first-place finalists from each official chapter are invited to compete against one another to determine a winner. The top two anglers from that event advance to a state team, and the overall winner is crowned Maryland's "Mr. Bass." That could play a role in an Eastern Divisional Tournament for the states along the East Coast, then lead to a National BASS Federation Championship, in which the top five division winners get an invitation to compete against the best professional anglers in the world at the BASS Classic. A win in a Classic can change your life, bringing fame and some fortune. It all depends on how you parlay your fishing and public relation skills.
Do you have a license?
One of our bass fishing readers who lives in Virginia says, "If you plan to come into any of the feeder creeks on the Virginia side of the tidal Potomac, be sure your licenses are in order." This particular angler recently was stopped by a marine patrol, and he received the fine-comb treatment. "They were courteous but obviously intent on finding fishermen who didn't have licenses," he wrote.
What newcomers to the Washington area need to be aware of is that there is tidal fishing license reciprocity between Maryland and Virginia but not the District. If you live in Maryland and you plan on fishing D.C. you'll need its license apart from one of the other state's tidal water license. You can fish the Virginia feeder creeks of the Potomac with a saltwater license, but be sure to study where the state puts its tidal demarcation lines. In Virginia they often are found in areas where you never would think you would need a freshwater license. Unlike Maryland, which places its tidewater demarcations far up inside a tributary, the Old Dominion occasionally has one so close to the main stem of the Potomac you'll think somebody made a mistake.
It's one reason I carry a tidal water permit along with a Virginia freshwater license with me whether I'm on the tidal Potomac, Rappahannock or James rivers.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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