Christopher Panetta of Red Hook, N.Y., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division event on the Potomac River. For his victory, Panetta earned $4,127.

“The weather was a huge factor in the tournament,” Panetta said. “I was down practicing since Tuesday and conditions were pretty good during the week; calm water with light breezes. On Saturday the wind really picked up and I had to make some major adjustments to my fishing. During practice I was catching fish pretty good in the weeds, but then I found this rock pile outside of a spawning flat where I ended up staying during the entire tournament. I must have cast in there about 1000 times.

“I really only had two 40 minute windows that produced the bigger fish for me.”

According to Panetta, the windows were when the tide was coming in and when the tide was rolling out. Panetta attributes his success on Saturday to growing up fishing tidal waters, which gave him the discipline he needed to stay in the one area where he had a lot of confidence.

“I had been throwing swimbaits during practice and that was working early on Saturday morning,” Panetta continued. “But then the bite died once the wind picked up and the tide started to rip. At that point I switched to using crankbaits and that’s what I caught my big fish on.”

Panetta indicated that he caught a personal best, 7-pound, 4-ounce, bass during practice and was able to land it again during the tournament.

“That almost never happens,” Panetta continued. “It was a pretty special fish.”

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

2nd Matthew Caffi, Fairfax, Va., five bass, 17-1, $2,064
3rd: Rich Newton, Stafford, Va., five bass, 16-15, $1,377
4th: Ernie Freeman, Broad Run, Va., five bass, 16-13, $963
5th: Kermit Crowder, Matoaca, Va., five bass, 16-6, $825
6th: James Donegan, Leesburg, Va., five bass, 16-3, $757
7h: Kyle Hoffman, Harpers Ferry, W. Va., five bass, 15-13, $688
8th: Elwood (Woody) Ness, Annapolis, Md , five bass, 15-11, $619
9th: Brian Bylotas, Scott Township, Pa., five bass, 15-8, $550
10th: Dennis McNeal, Stafford, Va., five bass, 15-7, $457
10th: Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md., five bass, 15-7, $457

Joe Poms of Paramus, N.J., weighed five bass totaling 15 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the Co-angler Division. Poms earned $2,064 for his victory.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

2nd: Ron Dopko, Plymouth, Pa., five bass, 15-10, $1,032
3rd: Bradley Petrie, Johnstown, N.Y., five bass, 15-7, $688
4th: Terry Stevens, Sterling, Va., five bass, 15-3, $482
5th: Chad Beaudrie, Toronto, Ontario, five bass, 14-10, $413
6th: Robert Rovenski, Mount Holly, N.J., five bass, 13-9, $378
7th: Bill Naron, Beaverdam, Va., five bass, 13-5, $344
8th: Dan Schoneveld, Hopatcong, N.J., five bass, 12-10, $310
9th: Troy Todd, Six Mile Run, Pa., five bass, 12-5, $275
10th: Destin Demarion, Grove City, Pa., five bass, 12-1, $241

The next BFL Northeast Division tournament is scheduled for July 13 on Oneida Lake in Brewerton, N.Y. After the last divisional tournament is complete, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 3-5 Regional Championship on Chesapeake Bay in North East, Md. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.

The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy. The 2013 BFL All-American is being held June 27–29 on the Nickajack Lake in Chattanooga, Tenn. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the EverStart Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.

Image courtesy FLW Outdoors

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