While downing ice cold Pacificos at El Salto back in January, my friend TJ Maglio and I got to talking about the state of the Potomac River. TJ had lived here for a few years before retreating to Madison, Wisconsin, and then to La Crosse, even further into Cheeseland.
A few years ago, some naysayers said the river was dead, but based on last year’s tournament results and a few fun fishing outings it appeared that reports of its death were greatly exaggerated. The fishing was really good throughout 2017 and promised to be just as good if not better in 2018.
I lamented that my two jobs, family obligations and semi-extensive travels prevent me from getting out as much as I’d like. It seems that sometimes I’ll lose several weeks at a time, and it’s often at the best time of year, like this spring when my new boat didn’t arrive until mid-April.
“Well, at least you should be pretty wired in with the hammers on the river,” he replied. I haven’t fished a tournament in several years, but apparently he thought that my outdoor writing endeavors gave me access to the best local anglers.
“No,” I said. “I’m really not.”
I mean, through tournament results and social media I know who tends to do well in most of the major Potomac River events. I’ve fished with a few of them over the past 20-plus years and know a few more, but I’ve never spoken with vast majority. It’s odd – I consider this my home water, but I know less about the current conditions on the river than I do on Rayburn or Guntersville or the California Delta, even though I may be hundreds or thousands of miles away from those other fisheries. On a week like this one, when the Elites are on a new venue, I’ve spent more time researching Oahe than I have looking at tide charts and weather predictions for my Saturday outing.
I don’t think there’s any greater point here, except that I live within a long cast of what many consider to be a high quality tournament fishery, one that lots of anglers can’t wait to visit. I need to get myself back in tune with it, like I was in my 20s, when I fished every available moment and was thrilled every time I launched my boat locally.