Winning the tournament was an impressive feat but so was the effort of Morris’ 12-angler team, which took top honors among six states competing in the tournament. Virginia’s collective effort of 261 pounds, 4 ounces, eclipsed runner-up Delaware by a margin of nearly 50 pounds.
“I’m so proud of these guys and even more so of our state,” said Joan Blankenship, president of the Virginia Federation Nation. “We built this Federation Nation from the ground up and we have come back strong.”
Morris’ expertise on the river came into play as he took the lead Thursday and held onto it on Friday. His strategy involved fishing a soft plastic frog in the morning and then switching to soft plastic crawfish lures in the afternoon, using the flipping-and-pitching technique.
“The key was being persistent in the tough bite after the front came through on Thursday,” said Morris, 52, the co-owner of a company specializing in glass-blown figurines.
Morris targeted a collection of grassbeds along the main river channel in water 5 feet deep, where he caught fish feeding early on the frog. In the afternoon, he switched to the flipping- and-pitching technique, alternating between the grassbeds and boat docks.
His soft plastic arsenal included a Zoom Super Hog in a variety of colors. The bait was Texas-rigged on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Superline Hook with a ¼-ounce weight. Rounding out the flipping-and-pitching gear was a 7-foot G. Loomis heavy-action rod and Shimano Chronarch reel spooled with 20-pound Stren line. He used the same tackle package for the frog.
“The dock bite required a lot of patience,” he added. “I sometimes made five or six passes around the same dock. It was just a tough bite.”
The weather played a factor in the tournament and obviously into the hand of Morris, who’s fished the Potomac competitively for the past 17 years.
The tournament began on Wednesday with relatively balmy temperatures, partly cloudy skies and calm wind. The next evening, a front packing severe weather passed through with the daytime temperature dropping from highs in the low 80s on Thursday to the high 60s on Friday. As a result, the bite suffered and experience on the river paid off.
As the top angler from Virginia, Morris is one of six anglers from the Mid-Atlantic Divisional who advanced to the Federation Nation National Championship set for Alabama’s Lake Neely Henry in January. He will be joined by Greg Alexander (Delaware), Kevin Waterman (Maryland), Robert Laufenberg (New Jersey), Jim Lambert (Pennsylvania), and Alan Fluharty (West Virginia).
Sponsors of the Federation Nation include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Evan Williams and KeelShield.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, call BASS Communications at 407-566-2208. To join BASS, visit www.Bassmaster.com or call 1-877-BASS-USA.