Water is clearer and grass well established in the southern part of the river, basically south of Dogue. North of Pohick, grass is predominantly hydrilla crowding out coontail. The wrecks and concrete in Spoils, Fox Ferry, the point known as North Point on Smoot Bay (National Harbor) and South Point are hard cover targets. Groups of bass are on docks in Dogue Creek, Broad Creek, Mount Vernon, and Swan. Otherwise fish grass patterns Greenway Flats and south. Go to main river grass early before big boats come through. Look for clear water.
One of the keys is to focus on scattered grass away from the hard grass edge. Pitch Mizmo green pumpkin tubes with copper flake or Arkansas Craw Texas rigged on a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point tube hook. Shake slowly, watching your line, feeling for weight. Hard cover: docks, laydowns, riprap etc. are also good targets. Stop for long periods…five seconds or more…fish have been hitting when sitting still…or coming over cover. As baits drop, get ready for bites. Skip Mizmo tubes soaked in Jack’s Juice garlic attractant under docks and over shallow cover.
Crank hard cover drops with Mann’s 15+. Split shot rigs work in the same deeper areas. Stay with 10-pound test GAMMA Copoly. A 3/16-ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot bullet–shaped split shot comes through cover. GAMMA Edge Fluorocarbon lines help you feel bites and get baits down faster. Rig stickworms like Mann’s HardNose Freefall worm soaked in garlic Jack’s Juice on a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Lite hook. Slowly drag and stop! When you hit cover, leave as long as you can! Use on bare banks or in front of grass lines at low tide, or inside grass at higher tides.
Work jigs like Mann’s black/blue or black/brown Stone Jigs in stained water and green pumpkin where water is clearer. For trailers, use HardNose Craws. Black/Blue or green pumpkin orange. Swim jigs and 5 inch Mizmo tubes in white, black/blue, black/brown at various depths, just below the surface to out of sight on grass edges and drop. The new 3/0 MUSTAD swimbait hooks are great for swimming tubes. But swimbaits like the Mann’s HardNose in shad/white patterns are awesome big fish baits when paired with the new Mustad Ultra Point weighted swimbait hook. Use 1/8 ounce weighted hooks…slide the weight to achieve the proper balance. The bayonet barb on the hook eye will impale the nose of the HardNose keeping it in place. Use heavier weights if needed. Mann’s NEW Reel N Shad is awesome with a lot of action as clear water bait! Good trailer for swim jigs and bladed jigs.
Target pads and wood in creeks with dark colors in stained water. Fish are drawn to edges of cover like pads and wood on outgoing tides. But, some pads are dry at low tide! Fish them only at high tide. Follow tides, moving up and over cover at high and out on edges when tides fall. Longer casts at higher tides cover water, at lower tides make accurate short casts with crankbaits like Mann’s Baby 1-Minus. Vary retrieves. Chop or cloud cover favor spinnerbaits. At higher tides with clear water, try double willow nickel/gold with firetiger skirts…faster retrieve. White skirts in stained and white/chartreuse in clearer water. Mann’s Classic with Colorado/Indiana tandem gold blades in stained, nickel and gold or both nickel in clearer water. Go faster and deeper with Colorado/willow when water is nearly clear. Make shorter casts at lower tides, targeting individual clumps of milfoil and longer casts to cover water at higher tides. Another bait I like now is the “EGG”, Lucky Craft’s very buoyant B.D.S. 4 in shad patterns. It will come over grass and snap free very easily.
The topwater bite is strong around grass and wood: four baits/two sizes/ two color patterns. Small: one light pattern and one dark pattern. Same for larger baits. Use topwaters with low water, clear water, or low light conditions. Clear/calm: small baits in natural patterns like the Lucky Craft G-Splash chartreuse shad. Work faster. If water is a bit stained, go to black/gold patterns, Lucky Craft Aurora Gold. Clear choppy water; go to natural patterns in larger size G-Splash-80. If water is stained and choppy, go to larger baits in black/gold pattern. When fish miss, use the reel to move baits to allow feathers to contract and open when sitting still. Shorter casts in muddy water and longer casts when water is calm and clear. Let fish tell you the speed…in general, clearer water, work baits faster…slow down ALL presentations in stained water. Use a 6 1/2 foot medium action graphite rod to avoid losing fish. The rear hook, use a Mustad Ultra Point feathered treble. Belly hooks get RED Mustad round bend Ultra Point Trebles. Use Mann’s HardNose Freefall worm weightless and on a weedless Mustad red wacky hook as a follow up.
Walking baits like Lucky Craft’s Gunfish are great when water is clear and you have cloud cover. Gunfish rattle and walk better than anything on the market! Buzzbaits with black skirts have been working when water is lower over grass and around shallow wood and rock cover. Try 1/4-ounce size with a clacker like Mann’s Classic Buzzbait. The hollow frog bite is awesome whenever the water is low…better with some light!
Stick worms are also producing over grass beds in high tides, pitch when the tide is lower. Green pumpkin Mann’s 5" HardNose Freefall worm in stained water, watermelon in clearer water…rigged Texas on 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite worm hooks (Wacky rigged with a red 2/0 Mustad weedless wacky rig hook or Mustad Octopus hook 2/0) Toss and drop…no other action required. Let it sit on the bottom, gently twitch. Pull to the surface and drop again…repeat back to the boat, if in the strike zone…otherwise, cast again. Let stickworms sit about 2 seconds for every foot deep you’re fishing. Also try soft plastic Mann’s HardNose jerkbaits, varying the speed.
Punch through grass with a Round Valley Tungsten ¾ -1 ounce weight on 60-pound test GAMMA Torque braid and a stout 7’6” rod like the Quantum Tommy Biffle Signature series has power to pull them out. Look for hydrilla with stalks of milfoil growing in it. Pitch, shake and let drop. Most fish hit on the drop. Mann’s HardNose craws stay on the hook and a drop of PRO’S Soft Bait glue secures the Round Valley Tungsten weight to the bait, so I don’t have to peg. Works best on sunny calm days!
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a Potomac bass fishing guide and BoatUS contributor. For Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.
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