Virginia’s Martin Villa Leads Into Final Day At MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitational Stop 5 At the Potomac River

Villa Catches 19-pound, 15-ounce Limit to Bring 1-Pound, 5-Ounce Lead into Final Day – Field Cut to Final 50

MARBURY, Md. (June 18, 2023) – Warmer temperatures and a lack of wind of Sunday created a more finicky fishery for the 150 pro anglers competing on Day 2 of the MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitational T-H Marine Stop 5 at the Potomac River . Local favorite, Martin Villa of Charlottesville, Virginia, started the day in third place, but brought a limit to the scale weighing 15 pounds, 7 ounces, to jump to the top of the leaderboard and bring a 1-pound, 5-ounce lead into the final day of competition. Over the first two days of competition, Villa has weighed in 10 bass totaling 34-6.

Link to Photo of Stop 5 at the Potomac River Day 2 Leader Martin Villa
Link to Photo Gallery of Stop 5 at the Potomac River Day 2 Weigh-In Highlights
Link to Video of Day 2 Weigh-In at Stop 5 at the Potomac River

The three-day tournament, hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners, features a roster of 150 pro anglers competing for a top prize of up to $115,000 and an invitation to compete at REDCREST 2024. The full field of 150 anglers concluded the two-day opening round on Sunday, with only the top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight now advancing to Championship Monday.

The tournament is still up for grabs, as even 21st place has more than 30 pounds and is less than 4½ pounds back from Villa. Pro Nick Hatfield of Greeneville, Tennessee (33-1), Michael Neal of Dayton, Tennessee (32-11), Cody Spetz of Hollister, Missouri (32-9) and Deale, Maryland’s Bryan Schmitt (32-1) round out the top five competitors.

Villa has been fishing hard, banking on specific pieces of hard cover at specific times. He’s also running the tide and making a lot of effort to get on certain exact places – he checked one spot five times today before it was free of boats.

“I’m missing a grass bite – and I know it’s the 1-2 punch that you need on this fishery – let me rephrase that, the big-fish grass bite,” Villa said. “It usually revolves around the topwater, but it just seems that when the tide is high they don’t really want to hit it, and when the tide is low I’m not really trying to be in the grass, because I’ve been fishing hard cover. And the places where the better fish are, they’re pulling off of the spawn. So, there are fish coming through every day, so hopefully there are some more there tomorrow.”

Villa’s best spot is a perfect confluence of his skills.

“It’s a dominant lie,” he said. “I have one cast that in the past two days I’ve caught 20 fish off of. The worst part of it was there was another tournament boat – not ours, a local team tournament – that was on it all morning. I went five times for it, and the fifth time they were 100 yards away.”

With low tide moving back another hour on Monday, Villa isn’t going to have much time at prime time.

“I know that if I’m going to win this thing, it’s going to come down to the last couple of casts,” he said.

Of course, he could figure out the grass bite, which would make him pretty hard to handle on the final day.

“I’m going to have to search deep and think of where my starting spot is,” he said. “I do have a patch of grass up north that I got bit in, and it’s been historically good for me. I’m really confident in this patch, but the northwest wind blew it out these last two days. I fished it one day in practice, made one 15-minute pass and caught four, one that was 4 1/2. I’m hoping it calmed down enough. There is enough grass in there where it should clean out quickly, and if I can get there in the morning and catch them, I may not leave. Because typically you can sit on that school all day.”

The top 50 pros advancing to the third and final day of competition at the T-H Marine Stop 5 at the Potomac River are:

1st: Martin Villa, Charlottesville, Va., 10 bass, 34-6
2nd: Nick Hatfield, Greeneville, Tenn., 10 bass, 33-1
3rd: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 32-11
4th: Cody Spetz, Hollister, Mo., 10 bass, 32-9
5th: Bryan Schmitt, Deale, Md., 10 bass, 32-1
6th: Troy Stokes, Trenton, Mich., 10 bass, 31-10
7th: Blake Hall, Rogersville, Ala., 10 bass, 31-9
8th: Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, 10 bass, 31-8
9th: Flint Davis, Leesburg, Ga., 10 bass, 31-2
10th: Kyle Weisenburger, Columbus Grove, Ohio, 10 bass, 30-15
11th: Jim Moynagh, Shakopee, Minn., 10 bass, 30-13
12th: Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 30-11
13th: Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., 10 bass, 30-9
14th: Andrew Loberg, Rocklin, Calif., 10 bass, 30-8
15th: Wayne Vaughan, Chester, Va., 10 bass, 30-6
16th: Wyatt Frankens, Corrigan, Texas, 10 bass, 30-5
17th: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 10 bass, 30-3
18th: Austin Culbertson, Moberly, Mo., 10 bass, 30-2
19th: Robert Nakatomi, Sacramento, Calif., 10 bass, 30-1
20th: Pete Ponds, Madison, Miss., 10 bass, 30-1
21st: Terry Olinger, Louisa, Va., 10 bass, 30-0
22nd: Eric Panzironi, Longwood, Fla., 10 bass, 29-14
23rd: Travis Harriman, Huntsville, Ark., 10 bass, 29-12
24th: Blake Felix, Warsaw, Mo., 10 bass, 29-8
25th: Eddie Carper, Valliant, Okla., 10 bass, 29-5
26th: Justin Cooper, Zwolle, La., 10 bass, 29-3
27th: Jack Daniel Williams, Kingsport, Tenn., 10 bass, 29-1
28th: Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., 10 bass, 29-0
29th: Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 28-15
30th: Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 10 bass, 28-14
31st: John Duarte, Middle River, Md., 10 bass, 28-12
32nd: Jordan Collom, Canyon Lake, Calif., 10 bass, 28-12
33rd: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 10 bass, 28-11
34th: Michael Catt, Jacksonville, Fla., 10 bass, 28-11
35th: Joe Wieberg, Freeburg, Mo., 10 bass, 28-8
36th: Jason Vance, Battle Ground, Ind., 10 bass, 28-7
37th: Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 10 bass, 28-5
38th: Jeremy Southerly, Fulks Run, Va., 10 bass, 28-5
39th: Cole Hewett, Orange Park, Fla., 10 bass, 28-4
40th: Braxton Setzer, Wetumpka, Ala., 10 bass, 28-3
41st: Mike McClelland, Blue Eye, Mo., 10 bass, 28-0
42nd: Matt Greenblatt, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., 10 bass, 27-15
43rd: Charlie Reed Jr., Gloucester, Va., 10 bass, 27-13
44th: Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 10 bass, 27-12
45th: Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 10 bass, 27-11
46th: Cody Pike, Powhatan, Va., 10 bass, 27-10
47th: Tyler Stewart, Dubach, La., 10 bass, 27-10
48th: Kyle Minke, Lindstrom, Minn., 10 bass, 27-9
49th: Hunter Eubanks, Inman, S.C., 10 bass, 27-8
50th: Christian Greico, Tampa, Fla., 10 bass, 27-8

Complete results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Pro Paul Gettys of Due West, South Carolina, earned Sunday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award with a largemouth that weighed in at 6 pounds, 1 ounce.

Overall, there were 717 bass weighing 1,771 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 148 pros Sunday. The catch included 138 five-bass limits.

In MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitational competition, the full field of 150 anglers competed in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday in a traditional five-fish, weigh-in format. Only the top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight now advance to the final round on Championship Saturday, where they will compete for the grand prize of up to $115,000, including the lucrative $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus for qualified anglers. The winner of the MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitational T-H Marine Stop 5 at the Potomac River will be determined by the heaviest three-day cumulative weight and will receive an invitation to compete at REDCREST 2024.

The final 50 anglers will launch Monday at 6:30 a.m. ET from Smallwood State Park, located at 2750 Sweden Point Road in Marbury, Maryland. The final weigh-in will also be held at the boat ramp daily beginning at 2:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend the event or follow the live on-the-water action online on MLFNOW! beginning at 7 a.m. CT at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The MLFNOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all three days of competition from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

The MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitational T-H Marine Stop 5 at the Potomac River will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the CBS Sports Network on Saturday, October 28.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Mystik Lubricants, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals on the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.

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