By BassFan Staff

Clark Wendlandt had to take a few minutes to gather his thoughts.

His motor was acting up and he was looking for help, mainly for someone to tow him back to the launch ramp for repairs. He was pretty sure his shot at winning the Potomac River FLW Tour was starting to slip away.

He called tournament director Bill Taylor, who sent out a message to the other competitors to see if anyone was in Wendlandt’s vicinity and if they’d be willing to assist the tournament leader.

Wendlandt never expected a fellow competitor to willingly trade boats with him, but that’s exactly what Shinichi Fukae did Saturday morning. Fukae was fishing not far from Wendlandt and after learning of Wendlandt’s situation, he insisted Wendlandt fish the rest of the day from his boat and he would take the disabled boat back to the ramp, essentially forfeiting his own day on the water.

“I talked to Shin’s marshal and he said, ‘Shin wants to bring you his boat. His area was blown out and he didn’t have any fish,’” Wendlandt said. “I told him I just needed him to take me in, but his marshal said, ‘Shin wants to give you his boat.’

“When he got there, it literally took me 5 minutes to decide whether or not to take it. He told me I had a chance to win and I should take his boat. He was very sincere when I asked him if he wanted to do this. He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Yes.’”

The two swapped tackle and by 10 o’clock, Wendlandt was back to fishing while Fukae was being towed back to the ramp, a trip that took 3 hours. Wendlandt said he was blown away by the gesture.

“It was the single greatest act of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen,” Wendlandt added. “I don’t know what else to say. I basically owe the fact that I caught anything to him.”

He finished the day with 14-08 and has 47-02 through 3 days at the ever-changing Potomac. He’ll leave the dock tomorrow with nearly a 4-pound lead as he goes after his fourth career FLW Tour win and first since 2001.

“Clark was leading and I’m friends with him,” said Fukae, who had already sewn up a berth in the Forrest Wood Cup and next year’s Toyota Texas Bass Classic. “I respect him so much. He’s one of my heroes and I just wanted to help him out. Everybody has a problem every now and then. Everyone needs to help each other out.”

Day-1 leader Adrian Avena bagged 12-10 today and is 2nd with 43-06 as he looks to claim his first career FLW Tour win.

Bryan Schmitt slipped one position to 3rd with an 11-03 stringer, which pushed his total to 42-01. Andy Morgan made the biggest move of the day, rocketing from 14th to 4th with a day-best 15-11 that has him at 42-00.

Fukae’s show of kindness and sportsmanship also had an indirect impact on the Angler of the Year race. By not weighing a fish, Fukae fell to 20th place and clinched the AOY title for Scott Martin, who needed to finish 19th or better to seal up his first career AOY crown.

Martin took care of the rest himself, catching 14-05 to move up six spots to 5th with 40-14 and secure his second Top-10 finish of the season.

Here's a look at the 10 anglers who advanced to the final day, with deficit margin from Wendlandt indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Clark Wendlandt: 47-02
2. Adrian Avena: 43-06 (3-12)
3. Bryan Schmitt: 42-01 (5-01)
4. Andy Morgan: 42-00 (5-02)
5. Scott Martin: 40-14 (6-04)
6. Darrel Robertson: 40-08 (6-10)
7. John Voyles: 39-07 (7-09)
8. Larry Nixon: 39-06 (7-12)
9. Randy Haynes: 39-03 (7-15)
10. Jim Moynagh: 39-02 (8-00)

Larry Nixon caught 12-14 to move up four spots to 8th, notching his second straight Top-10 finish. Scott Canterbury slid from 6th to 16th after catching four fish for 7-10 today. Jason Lambert, who’d made a huge jump to 5th on day 2, weighed in three for 5-12 and finished 18th.

The conditions were mostly miserable all day as an east wind kept the high tide from dropping much and making it difficult to effectively pick over grass beds. A steady rain fell most of the day and turned into a downpour during weigh-in, leaving most of the finalists unsure what kind of condition the river will be in Sunday morning.

Sunday’s forecast is calling for post-front conditions with mostly sunny skies and a stiff breeze from the west.

Wendlandt Expects Changes

> Day 3: 5, 14-08 (15, 47-02)

Wendlandt’s day obviously didn’t start off in an ideal fashion, but after switching boats, he was able to stay focused on keeping in tune with how the fish were reacting to the higher water as a result of the east wind.

He said his mechanical issues started on the way to his first spot. He thought it would work itself out and he fished for 45 minutes to an hour before opting to make a move to another area. He caught three keepers at his first spot.

“I started to leave and the trim wasn’t working and the motor was dead,” he said. “I couldn’t get it started and I knew I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Photo: FLW

Wendlandt wrestles a bass back to the boat Saturday morning.

After exchanging boats with Fukae, it took him a while to relax and get refocused.

“At about 10 a.m., I just fished and finally made a couple moves and settled down,” he said.

He totaled eight keepers in less than 2 feet of water using two primary baits on the day.

The heavy rains later in the day might impact where and how he fishes tomorrow. He cut his day short by 30 minutes after hearing thunder in the distance.

“It will no doubt affect the tournament tomorrow,” he said. “I love the Potomac because it’s such a dynamic fishery, but I may have to adjust and go different places. With that east wind, it kept the water in and the tide can’t release when it’s like that. I’ve seen it do that before and it always makes it hard to catch fish when it’s like that, especially when you’re fishing grass.

“It’s going to be tough. Somebody may have a great day tomorrow, but things will be different.”

With changes in store, he’s thankful to have more than a 3 1/2-pound cushion over the rest of the finalists.

“I’ll take it,” he said.

2nd: Avena Has a Good Area

> Day 3: 5, 12-10 (15, 43-06)

Avena has a good amount of experience at the Potomac, but he doesn’t know quite what to expect Sunday after all of the rain that fell this afternoon and evening

“There is definitely a lot of stuff going on,” he said. “I think tomorrow we’ll see the aftermath of all the rain we just got. I’ll be interested to see the river tomorrow.”

It could be a totally different animal, especially with a west wind that’s expected to amplify low-tide conditions.

“I’ve been fishing grass on incoming water and fishing current spots on outgoing,” he said. “The current spots are places in the backs of creeks where fish get concentrated either in a depression or somewhere they can tuck into.”

He caught most of his weight today off a stretch that’s been productive all tournament. He’s not sure what the water will look like there tomorrow, but it’s worth a look, he says.

“It has good fish there and if the tide drops out, I think I can catch them again,” he said. “It seems like it reloads. I have to believe a few more key fish will be there, but I don’t know what they tide will do.”

He thinks his chances to win are “slim,” but he knows the potential his best area holds so it’s not impossible.

“There’s potential for anyone within 5 or 6 pounds to have a shot,” he said. “This river is getting trashed and there are areas where there are 17-pound bags to be had. Clark could stumble and catch 11 or 12. It’s going to come down to catching a couple big ones. I haven’t seen many over 4 pounds this week so you’re going to need three 3 1/2-pounders at least.”

He said a ChatterBait, a Senko and a dropshot have been productive baits for him so far.

3rd: Schmitt Still Upbeat

> Day 3: 5, 11-03 (15, 42-01)

By reaching the final day on his home water, Schmitt has accomplished part of his goal this week. Now, he hopes to take advantage of his wealth of experience on the river Sunday when conditions might hamstring the other finalists.

“It was about surviving out there today,” he said after bringing in his smallest sack of the event. “I wanted an opportunity going into the final day. Clark has a good lead and he’s a good angler, but I still feel I have a shot.”

Photo: FLW

Andy Morgan connected with a 5-pounder today that carried him into the Top 5.

He returned to where he caught his day-2 stringer today – a main-river grass bed with scattered hydrilla in 2 to 3 feet of water – but it wasn’t long before the east wind reduced it to a swirl of brown water.

“It was so painful because I was like ‘Why? Just give me 4 hours there,’” he said. “That hurt bad. That sent me spinning.”

He ran around to several different areas looking for cleaner water.

“I hit other good places, but I was rushing everything today,” he added.

With the forecast for tomorrow, he’s not conceding anything.

“Anyone could blank,” he said. “We’re going to have bluebird skies with a strong wind from another direction. It’ll be post-frontal, which is always difficult here. I need to formulate a game plan and capitalize on everything. With the weather, it’s definitely not over.”

4th: Morgan Had To Scramble After Kicker

> Day 3: 5, 15-11 (15, 42-00)

Morgan benefited greatly from a 5-pound kicker that came around 10:30 this morning. It helped him secure his first career Top-10 finish at the Potomac.

“I got pretty lucky on that one,” he said. “Those are big difference-makers here. The area I was fishing had the east wind blowing in on it so it started to get muddy and that was the last fish I caught there.”

He expects a much different – and tougher – set of conditions in the morning after all of the rain that fell Saturday and it could open the door for someone in the Top 5 to make a run at the win.

“Clark is so far ahead, but this is going to push a reset button for everybody,” he said. “We’ve had so much weather and so much wind and rain, it’s going wash out some creeks and the wind will switch around and blow from the west. It’s going to be a different river tomorrow.”

He’s not sure where he’ll drop his trolling motor and start in the morning, but he did find a decent area this afternoon that yielded an upgrade.

“I’ll find something somewhere,” he said. “I don’t know how much running I’ll have to do to find an area to fish, but I will have to find something.”

Photo: FLW

Scott Martin is looking forward to a stress-free day on the water Sunday.

5th: Martin Relieved

> Day 3: 5, 14-05 (15, 40-14)

Martin called this the most nerve-wracking tournament he’s ever competed in and ranked last the 2 days among the most stressful he’s endured personally, fishing or otherwise.

He finally exhaled this afternoon when he reeled in a solid keeper that he figured would seal up the Angler of the Year crown and put an end to the tension.

“I went to bed last night and not that I had nightmares, but I just didn’t sleep well,” he said. “I woke up with an uncomfortable feeling with the rain messing everything up. I knew I’d have to start in a different place and I wasn’t confident. I was pretty nervous. When I finally caught my last big one at 12:30, all of the pressure went away immediately.”

He has steadily climbed up the leaderboard each day and will go out tomorrow with a renewed energy now that the AOY race is settled.

“It will boil down to who can catch a couple really good fish and a good one here is a 4- or 5-pounder,” he said. “The potential for a 19-pound bag is not out of the question. Adjustments will need to be made again and it could go either way. The great thing about winning AOY is all of that pressure and stress is gone. I feel like I had new life breathed into me. I might not catch a fish, but I’ll have a pep in my step. I’m excited about tomorrow. I’m going to fish hard and be confident.”

Additional details about Martin’s AOY triumph will be published shortly.


> Day 3 stats – 20 anglers, 14 limits, 2 fours, 3 threes, 1 zero.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., June 28 – Mostly Sunny - 80°/59°
- Wind: From the W at 10 to 20 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Clark Wendlandt -- Leander, Tx -- 14-13 (5) -- 17-13 (5) -- 32-10 (10) -- 14-08 (5) -- 47-02 (15)

2. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 16-12 (5) -- 14-0 (5) -- 30-12 (10) -- 12-10 (5) -- 43-06 (15)

3. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 15-5 (5) -- 15-9 (5) -- 30-14 (10) -- 11-03 (5) -- 42-1 (15)

4. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 11-5 (5) -- 15-0 (5) -- 26-5 (10) -- 15-11 (5) -- 42-00 (15)

5. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 13-11 (5) -- 12-14 (5) -- 26-9 (10) -- 14-05 (5) -- 40-14 (15)

6. Darrel Robertson -- Jay, Ok -- 12-7 (5) -- 15-12 (5) -- 28-3 (10) -- 12-5 (5) -- 40-08 (15)

7. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 14-7 (5) -- 12-3 (5) -- 26-10 (10) -- 12-13 (5) -- 39-7 (15)

8. Larry Nixon -- Bee Branch, Ar -- 13-12 (5) -- 12-12 (5) -- 26-8 (10) -- 12-14 (5) -- 39-6 (15)

9. Randy Haynes -- Counce, Tn -- 14-6 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 26-11 (10) -- 12-8 (5) -- 39-3 (15)

10. Jim Moynagh -- Carver, Mn -- 11-14 (5) -- 15-0 (5) -- 26-14 (10) -- 12-4 (5) -- 39-2 (15)

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not fish on day 4.

11. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 10-11 (5) -- 16-0 (5) -- 26-11 (10) -- 11-7 (5) -- 38-2 (15) -- $11,269

12. Scott Wiley -- Bay Minette, Al -- 13-14 (5) -- 12-5 (5) -- 26-3 (10) -- 11-8 (5) -- 37-11 (15) -- $11,269

13. Rusty Trancygier -- Hahira, Ga -- 11-11 (5) -- 14-5 (5) -- 26-0 (10) -- 11-5 (4) -- 37-5 (14) -- $11,269

14. Ish Monroe -- Hughson, Ca -- 12-8 (5) -- 13-4 (5) -- 25-12 (10) -- 11-00 (5) -- 36-12 (15) -- $11,269

15. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 12-15 (5) -- 12-11 (5) -- 25-10 (10) -- 9-15 (5) -- 35-9 (15) -- $11,269

16. Scott Canterbury -- Springville, Al -- 14-1 (5) -- 12-14 (5) -- 26-15 (10) -- 7-10 (4) -- 34-9 (14) -- $11,269

17. Blake Nick -- Adger, Al -- 13-8 (5) -- 12-15 (5) -- 26-7 (10) -- 7-11 (3) -- 34-2 (13) -- $11,269

18. Jason Lambert -- Pickwick Dam, Tn -- 9-2 (5) -- 18-0 (5) -- 27-2 (10) -- 5-12 (3) -- 32-14 (13) -- $11,269

19. Michael Wooley -- Collierville, Tn -- 14-1 (5) -- 11-9 (5) -- 25-10 (10) -- 5-7 (3) -- 31-1 (13) -- $11,519

20. Shinichi Fukae -- Palestine, Tx -- 15-1 (5) -- 11-0 (5) -- 26-1 (10) -- 0-0 (0) -- 26-1 (10) -- $11,519