By BassFan Staff

Tom Monsoor thinks he can win. So does Brandon McMillan. Chad Warren, too.

Bass anglers are always reluctant to concede the outcome of a tournament to another competitor. Not until the final bass is weighed and the emcee puts down the mic. Thats how the Potomac River FLW Tour appears to be shaping up.

After three days of competition and more than 300 limits of Potomac River bass being brought to the scales, the final day of the season finale is setting up to be a wide-open affair. The top three Monsoor, McMillan and Warren are separated by just 12 ounces and the deficit to 5th is less than 3 pounds. Even Brandon Cobb and Mike Surman, who are tied for 9th with 47-02, are far from out of it.

Everyone, though, is still chasing Monsoor, the 68-year-old from La Crosse, Wis., with a contagious smile and an unrivaled proficiency at fishing grass. His 15-05 stringer was his lightest of the tournament, but it was enough to keep him in the lead for the second straight day with a 51-09 total. This is Monsoors first top-10 cut since the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup at the Red River.

Two ounces behind Monsoor is McMillan, who was an afterthought following day 1. He was buried in 126th place and pretty sure hed frittered away a spot in this years Cup. He rebounded with a tournament-best 20-07 on Friday to jump 110 spots. Today, he moved up 14 more places with 19-07, tops among the 20 competitors.

Warren is a 26-year-old Tour rookie from Sand Springs, Okla., whod yet to finish higher than 74th this season. Hes been steady all week and used an 18-08 stringer to jump up 10 spots to 3rd with 50-13.

Chris Johnston, last years Tour Rookie of the Year, caught 15-11 and sits in 4th with 49-13 while Jeff Sprague sacked 16-04 to clinch his first top-10 finish of the year. He advanced six spots to 5th with 48-15.

Here's a look at the Top 10 entering the final day, with the deficit margin from Monsoor indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Tom Monsoor: 51-09
2. Brandon McMillan: 51-07 (0-02)
3. Chad Warren: 50-13 (0-12)
4. Chris Johnston: 49-13 (1-12)
5. Jeff Sprague: 48-15 (2-10)
6. Cody Meyer: 48-02 (3-07)
7. Michael Neal: 48-01 (3-08)
8. Andy Young: 47-08 (4-01)
9. Brandon Cobb: 47-02 (4-07)
10. Mike Surman: 47-02 (4-07)

Cody Meyer continued late-season surge with a 14-spot improvement to 6th to clinch his third top-10 finish in the last four tournaments. Surman jumped seven spots to earn a spot among the top 10 to cap off a tough year.

Robert Behrle slipped from 2nd to 16th after bagging 9-15 today. David Dudley fell eight spots and finished 12th.

The prolific grass up and down the river has been the key this week, as has the end of the outgoing tide in the morning. With the tide cycle shifting back 15 minutes each day, the finalists will have ample opportunities to capitalize on fish that have been more than willing to bite this week.



FLW
Photo: FLW

It was a much tougher day for Monsoor.

Best Spot Wasnt Hot for Monsoor

> Day 3: 5, 15-05 (15, 51-09)

Monsoors confidence took a big hit today, but hes not ready to wave the white flag.

The area hed been relying on for his better fish didnt produce like it had and that has him worried his time atop the leaderboard is coming to an end.

Its no big deal, he said. Guys are catching 18- to 20-pound bags and Im not. Today, my best spot went to hell. I might go try it for a while, but Im still not sure what Ill do.

He knows his stringers have dropped off each day while others, McMillan in particular, are surging upward.

Im not confident I can win, he said. Im going to try but it aint going to happen. Guys bringing in 20-pound bags two days in a row. Thats the reality. If you can read, its kind of black and white. Theyd have to be biting good somewhere and I havent seen where I can catch big ones like I need except on the spot where they werent biting for me today.

He spent five hours there today and caught two solid keepers, a considerable drop from what hed been pulling off there.

Im going to fish my butt off, he said. I aint giving it up. Ive had 2nds and 3rds and 4ths and 5ths. Itd be great (to win). Itd be like heaven. Had that spot not petered out, Id be feeling really good.

2nd: McMillans Spot All I Got

> Day 3: 5, 19-07 (15, 51-07)

The swing of emotions McMillan has experienced this week has left him wondering what it would feel like to cap it all off with a second career Tour victory and his first victory outside his home state of Florida.

At this point, Im not going to be disappointed, he said. Im as happy today as I wouldve been yesterday had I finished 51st. Ive come this far and to be this close, I want it. Im not going to lie. It aint about the money. I want the trophy.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Brandon McMillan could be on the verge of a 126th-to-1st rally.

If I could pull this off doing what Im doing, throwing at the same spot with a weightless Senko, that would be as good as it could get.

Today, he repeated what he did Friday with the same presentation along the same 50-yard stretch of grass. He had a limit early and was culling by 7:30 a.m. His stringer was anchored by a 5-plus pounder, the biggest hes ever caught on the Potomac He plans on spending his whole day there Sunday.

Thats all I got, he said. I burned nine gallons (of gas) in the last two days. Im not going anywhere. If its meant to be, its meant to be.

He couldnt get a read on how many fish might be left along that stretch. Mike Surman also fished through there today, he said. McMillan said the first part of the day will be crucial to his effort to overtake Monsoor.

They definitely bite better in the morning, but Ive found if I can let it rest for 20 minutes or so and go back I can get a bite, he added.

3rd: Warren Got Em Early

> Day 3: 5, 18-08 (15, 50-13)

The road to 3rd hasnt been easy for Warren, who had his best day of the week today (practice included). He was able to further probe an area he discovered Friday and had such a great morning today that he was able to back off in an effort to preserve it for the final day.

He said a topwater bait was his best tool today after relying on a soft stickbait Thursday and a swimjig and frog on Friday.

It feels good, Warren said. Im ready for tomorrow. I found a little area close to where Ive been catching them and expanded on it today. It turned out to better than I thought it was.

He amassed the bulk of his weight by 9:30 a.m., seizing on the end of the outgoing tide cycle. That period will extend later into the morning Sunday, which gives him confidence he can duplicate what he did today.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Chad Warren likes his chances to win tomorrow.

I didnt want to waste any 3-pounders, he added. Its a big area and I think theres a lot of fish in there. My best chance at the big ones will be early on. One good thing about where Im at is I havent seen anybody else there.

If things go my way, I have a good chance of winning it.

4th: Johnston Shooting for 20

> Day 3: 5, 15-11 (15, 49-13)

Despite giving up a spot on the leaderboard, Johnston will head out Sunday with a refreshed optimism based on an area he tapped into today.

He feels like hell need 20 pounds to win and the spot he found just might harbor the kind of quality to pull it off. In an hour of flipping his jig around, he caught several 3-plus pounders and had one in the 5-pound range pull off.

Im going to give it a whole lot longer tomorrow, he said. On the Potomac, you can catch a big one anywhere. You can be catching 2-pounder after 2-pounder and then all of a sudden get a 5 or 6. If I can catch two 5s, Ill be right there.

Before he revisits that spot, though, he might run up a creek to an area that he had bites on when the outgoing tide bottomed out earlier this week.

I might give that an hour and then jump back to that other spot, he said.

Most of his bites have come off main-river stretches and hes done most of his damage flipping a jig into pockets of grass.

Coming off a runner-up finish in points last year as a rookie, Johnston is driven to close out whats been a disappointing season with his first Tour win.

Ive been close on the Potomac before and I feel like Im due for a good finish or a win, he said. It would turn my whole season around and get things back on the right track.

5th: Sprague Wont Hold Back

> Day 3: 5, 16-04 (15, 48-15)

Sprague doesnt plan on holding back on any of the areas he plans to fish tomorrow and based on what hes caught and seen in those spots, he could make a run at the win.

I dont know if I can crack 20, but I think Ill put some pressure on them, he said. Given the opportunity, if anyone stumbles, I could be standing at the door knocking on it.

There are a lot of fish in the areas those guys are fishing and I know what lives where Im at. Im going to make a few small adjustments and try to clean out some of the areas Ive been laying off.

He said the breeze that blew this morning hampered him, but he still had a couple flurries that produced 3 1/2-pounders on consecutive casts.

Those are the ones you need to get where Im going, he said.

Hes focused almost exclusively on grass-related fish and has employed a swimjig and a finesse worm to do most of his damage.

Im going to slow down some more tomorrow because I have to clean some of those places out, he added. There are key periods, though. Its so strange because theyll bite on an incoming and outgoing tide. They really like the water moving a little bit. As long as its moving, they dont care.

Notable

> Day 3 stats 20 anglers, 20 limits.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., June 18 Partly Cloudy 89/73
- Wind: From the SSW at 10 to 20 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Tom Monsoor -- La Crosse, Wi -- 19-6 (5) -- 16-14 (5) -- 36-4 (10) -- 15-05 (5) -- 51-09 (15)

2. Brandon McMillan -- Clewiston, Fl -- 11-9 (5) -- 20-7 (5) -- 32-0 (10) -- 19-07 (5) -- 51-07 (15)

3. Chad Warren -- Sand Springs, Ok -- 17-0 (5) -- 15-5 (5) -- 32-5 (10) -- 18-08 (5) -- 50-13 (15)

4. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, Ont. -- 17-7 (5) -- 16-11 (5) -- 34-2 (10) -- 15-11 (5) -- 49-13 (15)

5. Jeff Sprague -- Point, Tx -- 15-3 (5) -- 17-8 (5) -- 32-11 (10) -- 16-04 (5) -- 48-15 (15)

6. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 15-10 (5) -- 16-1 (5) -- 31-11 (10) -- 16-07 (5) -- 48-02 (15)

7. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 16-11 (5) -- 16-3 (5) -- 32-14 (10) -- 15-03 (5) -- 48-01 (15)

8. Andy Young -- Mound, Mn -- 17-15 (5) -- 15-9 (5) -- 33-8 (10) -- 14-00 (5) -- 47-08 (15)

9. Brandon Cobb -- Greenwood, SC -- 16-1 (5) -- 16-11 (5) -- 32-12 (10) -- 14-06 (5) -- 47-02 (15)

10. Mike Surman -- Boca Raton, Fl -- 16-6 (5) -- 15-10 (5) -- 32-0 (10) -- 15-02 (5) -- 47-02 (15)

The following anglers missed the cut and will not compete on day 4.

11. Anthony Gagliardi -- Prosperity, SC -- 15-14 (5) -- 17-5 (5) -- 33-3 (10) -- 13-07 (5) -- 46-10 (15) -- $12,000

12. David Dudley -- Lynchburg, Va -- 17-8 (5) -- 16-1 (5) -- 33-9 (10) -- 12-14 (5) -- 46-07 (15) -- $12,000

13. John Voyles -- Petersburg, In -- 16-7 (5) -- 16-10 (5) -- 33-1 (10) -- 13-06 (5) -- 46-07 (15) -- $12,000

14. Andy Morgan -- Dayton, Tn -- 15-7 (5) -- 17-0 (5) -- 32-7 (10) -- 13-07 (5) -- 45-15 (15) -- $12,000

15. Carl Jocumsen -- Frisco, Tx -- 18-11 (5) -- 13-0 (5) -- 31-11 (10) -- 14-04 (5) -- 45-15 (15) -- $12,000

16. Robert Behrle -- Hoover, Al -- 18-10 (5) -- 16-8 (5) -- 35-2 (10) -- 9-15 (5) -- 45-01 (15) -- $12,000

17. Andrew Upshaw -- Tulsa, Ok -- 15-14 (5) -- 17-10 (5) -- 33-8 (10) -- 11-03 (5) -- 44-11 (15) -- $12,000

18. Jason Meninger -- Gainesville, Ga -- 15-6 (5) -- 16-12 (5) -- 32-2 (10) -- 11-08 (5) -- 43-10 (15) -- $12,000

19. Shane Lehew -- Catawba, NC -- 16-6 (5) -- 15-10 (5) -- 32-0 (10) -- 11-08 (5) -- 43-08 (15) -- $12,000

20. Keith Bryan -- Novato, Ca -- 15-15 (5) -- 15-15 (5) -- 31-14 (10) -- 9-01 (5) -- 40-15 (15) -- $12,000