- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

A number of Washington area bass fishing fanatics will remember a Bass Anglers Sportsman Society fishing tournament in 2000 that was headquartered in Smallwood State Park along the Mattawoman Creek in Charles County.
During the Maryland Bassmaster Top 150 competition, a 48-year-old Charleston, S.C., pro, Carl Maxfield, taught everybody a lesson in patience, fishing skill, and tenacity.
Instead of joining more than 150 fellow pros who charged up and down the adjacent Potomac River in powerful boats to seek the hidden riches the tidal Potomac can deliver for bass fishing fans, Maxfield traveled only a brief distance upstream in the narrow Mattawoman to visit a relatively short shoreline area that dropped from 1 and 2 feet of water into 5 and 6 feet, even more in some spots.
Bass hounds find such fishing stretches particularly productive because of the "dropoff" effect that is crucial to warm-water fishing. The bass can come up into shallows, tear into baitfish for a quick snack, then retreat to cool, dark sanctuaries directly next to the "skinny" water, as fishermen refer to creek areas that wouldn't get the tops of your socks wet if you waded in them.
In such a creek sector just beyond the Hancock Cove Maxfield found a steady supply of largemouth bass every day for the duration of the three-day event as he flipped and cast soft plastic worms and tubes and also used a shiny metal blade bait to good effect. Four-time world bass fishing champion Rick Clunn was the only one who knew precisely where Maxfield fished, and he honored the South Carolinian's hot spot. Although technically he could have fished the area, Clunn never interfered with Maxfield's "honey hole."
Maxfield won by a good margin, earning $75,000, along with a $35,000 bass boat, motor and trailer rig.
To this day, the area inside the Mattawoman that turned up a steady supply of fat bass is referred to as Maxfield's Ledge. Respect for the angling pro's skill knows no bounds.
A few days ago, at age 50, Carl Maxfield died unexpectedly.
A statement from the international BASS organization, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., said, "The BASS family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of South Carolina pro Carl Maxfield. Maxfield competed in his first BASS event in 1976 and became a full-time pro in 1991. During his career he garnered 10 top 10 finishes, including a win at the 2000 Maryland Bassmaster Top 150 event on the Potomac River. Maxfield qualified for the world championship BASS Masters Classic twice in his career, in 2000 and 2002. Maxfield is survived by his wife, Toni, his sons, Michael and Adam Grayson, and his daughter, Amanda."
Reaction to Maxfield's passing came quickly, including this from Davy Hite, 2002 BASS Angler of the Year and fellow South Carolina pro: "Carl and Bobby Wilson were two of the guys that I looked up to before I started fishing the Bassmaster Trail. Carl was always real positive and gave me good advice, just like a true friend would. My heart goes out to his family."
Said Trip Weldon, the BASS organization's tournament director: "I first met Carl in 1983, and he was one of the truly good guys in the sport. My thoughts are with his wife, Toni, their children and the rest of the Maxfield family. He will definitely be missed."
Maxfield's $293,000 career earnings weren't the biggest among the guys who try to earn a living from hooking, tallying, then releasing their live largemouth bass in big bucks fishing tournaments, but every bass pro in the land knew the man belonged to a relatively small group of pros who were a constant threat to take it all.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.


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