- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
By James DrakeCompany is coming.
Yes indeed, we’re about to get some visitors. I don’t tell you this so you can vacuum all that dog hair off the bed in the guest bedroom or make sure you put out a little bowl on the nightstand there so Aunt Nellie has a place to put her teeth at night.
No, no. This company coming is a warning to fishermen and pleasure boaters, specifically the local bass, crappie and catfish anglers or any fishermen or boater really who might have a penchant to launch a boat into the Potomac River anywhere from Charles County up to the Washington, D.C., waters during the dates of May 15 to 20.
I fear you’re going to have a great deal of competition for parking spaces at your selected launch site. And if your timing is only fairly unlucky, you might be able to grow a little beard before you can actually get your own vessel up to the ramp.
The Walmart FLW is coming to the Potomac with not one, but two major tournaments that will be launching here from May 15 to 20.
Both of these tournaments are very big deals to FLW tournament fishermen, and both will be on the NBC Sports Network, formally Versus.
And, here’s an odd fact: Both of these Walmart FLW tournaments will be headquartered up in Prince George’s County at National Harbor, but the contestants will be launching their boats into the river from someplace else.
Whoa Captain, I can already hear you thinking, what am I talking about?
Well, you see National Harbor is one fancy waterfront destination with about 300 premium and most precious acres there right on the Potomac’s shore just below the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
If you’ve got a few extra bucks, you can buy a pretty nice townhome in there for only about half a million dollars. National Harbor also has all kinds of upscale shopping and you can eat a sandwich there or sit down in a far nicer dining room where all the men are wearing tuxedos and maybe order a few $450 bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal.
There are several really nice hotels and even swanky parking garages in this place.
Ah, but it’s the marina itself that’s of utmost concern to fishermen and boaters and National Harbor’s marina is first class in every respect.
They’ve got electricity hook-ups, cable TV and even wireless Internet service and the slips are the upscale floaters.
You can rent one for the year at $145 per linear foot with a 40-foot minimum size. Yes, that's just about $6,000 and make sure you have a little extra for your electricity usage will be billed separately.
However, one thing National Harbor doesn’t have is a ramp to launch your boat. After all, you just don't trailer a nice yacht, you’d sail one here by water.
So, you see, there are no ramps anywhere at National Harbor. If you’re one of the hundreds of bass fishermen entered into these upcoming tournaments, you’re on your own to get your boat from the trailer to the water.
I’ll just bet a lot of these tournament fishermen will be launching from the nearby Marshall Hall facility until every one of those parking spaces there are filled.
Some will make the 17-mile boat ride from Smallwood State Park to National Harbor and God only knows where everyone else will launch.
Hundreds of fishermen are going to be here and, like I mentioned before, these are big-deal tournaments.
One is called the Walmart FLW Bass Fishing League All-American with a top price of up to $130,000. The other is the Walmart FLW Tour on the Potomac River presented by the National Guard. This latter one pays $125,000 for the winner of the pro division and $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.
Those are just the top prizes, too. Many thousands of more dollars will be paid out to scores of other top fishermen.
The FLW’s Bass Fishing League is mainly for the more casual weekend anglers and this All American is their championship event for that circuit.
The other is a top level major tournament on the FLW tour with many professional, nationally recognized anglers here on the Potomac to fish that you’ve probably seen on television if you watch any of those Saturday morning fishing shows.
These pros are each paying a $4,000 entry fee to fish this one tournament. Multiply that by 150 entries for a full field and it comes to $600,000. Yes, you can be sure this is serious business.
If you’re interested, come to National Harbor for the FLW Outdoors Expo from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The Expo features Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to meet and shake hands with some of the pros, interactive games, giveaways and other activities.
The weigh-ins will also be at National Harbor beginning at 2:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and they start at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. You’ll probably have to pay to park, but the FLW Expo and those weigh-ins are all free to attend.
I wish these visiting fishermen well and hope they catch lots of fish, nobody gets hurt and everyone returns home soon afterwards to their loved ones.
I also really wish they wouldn’t clog our local launching ramps so a poor slob resident of Southern Maryland can’t get anywhere near the water to launch his own boat. And that's especially so when you consider it was our tax dollars that were actually used to pay for these facilities in the first place.
I also honestly hope Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources will soon step up to the plate and put far more restrictive limits on these big money tournaments that seem to be here almost every weekend now from April through October.
Maryland’s oyster recovery
The Chesapeake Bay oyster planting season has begun and just like Carl Sagan was so good at saying, “billions and billions” of oyster spat will be planted throughout the bay.
The University of Maryland’s Horn Point Hatchery has expanded and can now produce and plant between one and two billion oyster spat on shell every year.
Harris Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River, is the first river targeted for large-scale oyster restoration. The goal for 2012 is to fully restore 100 acres this planting season to a very healthy oyster reef.
This will add to the 1,500 acres already planted throughout the bay with over three billion oyster spat during the last decade.