- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2003

RISON, Md. — For only the second time in Bass Anglers Sportsman Society tournament history has a Marylander won a major bass fishing competition.

Touring pro Ernest Freeman of Gambrills, Md., won the $313,100 Bassmaster Northern Open resoundingly yesterday as he caught a three-day maximum limit of 15 largemouth bass that weighed 52 pounds, 13 ounces.

The thirty-something Freeman now joins Roland Martin, who hailed from Laurel but now lives in Florida, as a bona fide Maryland fishing threat anywhere he shows up on the pro tour.

Martin, 63, has won at least 19 major tour events and Freeman is just getting started, but keep an eye on this energetic, skillful angler. Freeman, who grew up in Waldorf near the tidal Potomac in Charles County, had no trouble putting together a winning “pattern,” as bass pros refer to a system of lures and angling methods that convince the fish to bite.

“I started the tournament fishing in grass patches outside of Mattawoman Creek,” he said, “but when the wind blew from the wrong direction [yesterday], I moved north toward Wilson Bridge and started throwing deep-diving crankbaits in firetiger color around some submerged wood.”

Freeman said that he had problems dealing with recreational anglers who happened to be in one stretch of river where he had caught some well-fed bass during an earlier practice. “I asked them if it was OK if I fished in that part of the river and they seemed to object,” he said. One of them told Freeman, ‘We have just as much right to fish here as anybody else.’ Of course, they were right. Freeman simply made a few adjustments and worked other areas — a move that apparently didn’t hurt him.

Freeman won a prize package worth $50,000 (a $35,000 fully rigged bass boat and $15,000 cash).

In second place was Chris Daves, the son of former bass fishing world champion Woo Daves of Spring Grove, Va. Chris Daves, 31, also of Spring Grove, brought in a 15-bass limit of 48 pounds for the three-day event, followed by Rick Morris, of Virginia Beach, who had 46 pounds, 4 ounces.

“I used a Zoom Brush Hog and a Leverage spinnerbait for my fish. I started around the Piscataway Creek, then moved with the outgoing tide clear down to the Arkendale Flats,” Daves said. “I grew up on the James River. I know how to work the tides.”

Weigh-ins were at Smallwood State Park.

Anglers yesterday were vying for a share of $313,000 and for points toward qualifying for the Bassmaster Open Championship this fall and the Bassmaster Classic to held next summer.

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