The best professional bass anglers return to Maryland this week for the Bassmaster Elite at Potomac River presented by Econo Lodge.
The tournament runs Aug. 11 - 14 with daily launches set for 6:15 a.m. at Smallwood State Park in Charles County. Weigh-ins on Thursday and Friday will take place at Smallwood State Park and on Saturday and Sunday at Indian Head Pavillion on the Village Green. Anglers will hit the stage all four days at 3 p.m.
As with last year's event on the upper Chesapeake Bay, the weekend will include an expo and festival area with interactive displays from Berkley and Toyota, as well as programs that highlight the history of Charles County.
“The goal is to get them to come back, to get them to say, ‘Wow, we didn’t realize all the history and outdoor recreation you have in the area,’” said Tim Morgan, Chief of Tourism and Special Events for Charles County when asked about the festival last year.
The Discover Quest Festival runs from noon till 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Organizers are hopeful the four day event will bring upwards of $1 million to the local economy.
The tournament itself almost didn't happen because of a regulation Maryland's Department of Natural Resources rolled out back in March. That rule allowed tournament anglers to weigh in five bass per day, but only one that measured 15 inches or longer.
B.A.S.S. nearly pulled the plug on this year's tournament because of the rule and DNR received a host of new feedback. Two weeks later, it announced two additional options that removed the maximum size limit, but created special rules to ensure safe handling of fish.
“The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recognized that a problem with the bass population exists in the Potomac and wanted to act quickly to protect it from further decline,” B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland said. “Their first proposals were met with a great deal of opposition from tournament organizations, including B.A.S.S.
“But to their credit, they have been willing to listen to angler concerns and presented new options that allow tournaments to be conducted if they follow what DNR calls ‘Best Management Practices’ for fish care.”
Gilliland says most of the special requirements are already standard practice for B.A.S.S., including redistributing fish to approved locations with its live release boat and using equipment to maximize fish survival during weigh-ins.
“Complying with the criteria in Option 2 should not prove difficult for us,” Gilliland said. “Most of these requirements were taken directly from the B.A.S.S. publication, Keeping Bass Alive, and are standard operating procedures at all B.A.S.S. tournaments.”
* Jeff Herman is the assistant news director at WMAR | ABC2. His main passion while not at work is fishing. This column is part of a series of columns he writes for our outdoors page . You can read more of his columns here . Follow him on Twitter @JeffABC2News and @TightLinesABC2