This month brings the widest swing…early it fishes like late winter. By month’s end, it’s early spring! It’s transition time. Fish are moving. After last year’s grass die-off, it might make it tougher to find grass beginning to “green up”, so look for hard cover, drops, points and inside creek bends in creek mouths and river points! Fish stage in creek mouths like Swan, Piscataway, Broad, Dogue and Little Hunting before going to spawning areas. Bryan’s Cove across from Mount Vernon is a good early spring spot. Areas warmed by sun will be best! Better close to deep water. Spoils, Smoot Bay, Blue Plains and other DC areas are heating up as fish move to the upper edges of drops! Water temperature is critical. Into low 40’s, find fish on steep drops near banks and deep water. Into mid 40’s fish flats near drops. Temperatures around 50, fish are still near drops, but venture further onto flats becoming candidates for aggressive baits. Open the tackle box!
Blue Plains water is near 60! Fish with split shots, Carolina rigs and Drop shots. Jerkbaits like Lucky Craft’s Pointer 78 or the Bevy Shad paused briefly to find the right cadence! Use the suspending Lucky Craft baits where you find CLEAR water! In the same areas, use Mann’s Classic 1/4-ounce double willow nickel blade spinnerbait with white/chartreuse skirts to pick off aggressive fish. In deeper water, jigs produce. Slower presentations with Punisher hair jigs in brown/orange, green/ orange, and black/blue with matching plastic chunks and rattles on 8-pound test Gamma Copoly land nice fish. Let Blue Plains current move baits. Try warm water discharge in Four Mile Run too!
With colder temperatures, 38-42, fish will be depth-oriented on steep drops 8-15 feet deep! There’s a hole in front of Spoils over 20 feet deep. Locate the ditch running outside the Spoils to the Bridge, perfect Silver Buddy vertically jigged or worked down drops. Use 1/2 or 1/4 ounce baits…12-pound test when water is this cold, allowing baits to vibrate with very little movement. Silver: sunny days or fairly clear water. Gold: cloudy days or slightly stained water. Feel a tick on the drop? Set the hook! Be ready if you feel pressure or weight. Don’t overwork! I really like a medium/heavy fast tipped 7’ Quantum rod.
Once water gets to 45 and stabilizes, toss Pointers to 6-foot depths. Keep them deep and slow and in clearest water possible. Outside the Spoils use the Blue Plains outflow and sun soaked cover and banks to warm your spot. A few degrees change the mood of fish, adjust your in depth and speed. Tight wiggle baits like Lucky Craft’s Bevy Shad cast well into the wind and suspend. Let sit to entice strikes. Try Black gold, mat pumpkin, and chartreuse blue. Fish aren’t hitting any bait very hard, so very sharp crankbait hooks become more critical. Upgrade with new KVD Elite short shank Mustad Ultra Point trebles. These are a great replacement hook with an angled point.
For spinnerbaits, wait for water to stabilize at 45 degrees. Fish are on flats near drops. Keeping your rod tip low, slowly retrieve 3/8-ounce willow/Colorado gold blade Mann’s Classics, maintaining bottom contact. The Classic’s thin wire generates a lot of vibration. The round head deflects off cover providing a keel to right the bait after contact. For light bites, try a medium/heavy fast graphite rod; otherwise use a medium heavy. Look for strikes as baits near drops. Slower retrieve reels (5.3:1) help.
Plastics bites are light. BE PATIENT! Fish light line very slowly, stopping frequently. Attractants like Jack’s Juice encourage fish to hold on! A quick spray of Jack’s Juice into plastics bag soaks in. Stick with Mann’s 3-inch avocado Stingray grubs, Mizmo 4 inch tubes in green pumpkin colors, and 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worms. Lifting the rod you might feel weight, so keep the rod tip a bit lower to set the hook, just reel and lift. The R&R CUSTOM Baits ¼ ounce round jig head and the ¼ ounce tube head have open Mustad Ultra Point hooks making it easier to get hooks into sluggish fish! On 6 or 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly on spinning gear, work very slowly on the bottom stopping often. Fish aren’t moving a long way to eat. Rather than hopping, lift, let glide and stop with a shake every once in a while. Sitting Mizmos tantalize fish into striking when barely moved. Shaky heads are also effective.
Drop shot all depths using 6-8 pound test with leaders about 8 inches or less and 3/16-ounce BULLSHOT bullet shaped split shot weights. Rig Stingray grubs on 2/0 Mustad Ultra Lock Lite Wire hooks with 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worms. Settle on bottom, gently shake. Feel cover with weights? Leave to aggravate fish into strikes, feeling like a rubber band.
In warmer water split shot and Carolina Rigs cover water, producing good catches. GAMMA braid and Round Valley tungsten weights increase feel with GAMMA EDGE Fluorocarbon 10-12 pound test leaders. Mann’s HardNose (these really stay in place!) lizards on 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point hooks work well. Darker colors in deeper or stained water. Heavier weights with Carolina rigs, up to 1 ounce. For lighter split-shot applications in shallower water, 3/16 BULLSHOT weights come through cover. Compact, Punisher hair jigs breathe, generating strikes while sitting in cold water! Two colors...black/blue, and olive/orange. Light line and Punisher Chunks with rattles work very well moving very slowly, sitting for a while. Check out at www.punisherjigs.com.
Later in March, as water stays above 45 degrees, slowly retrieve lipless crankbaits in red patterns covering flats near deep water, looking for grass. Lucky Craft’s LV-500 runs deeper and has a lot of vibration. Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip trebles make it easier to keep fish on. Crawfish are coming alive and fish are eating and moving at month’s end!
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS “Ask the Expert” (http://my.boatus.com/askexperts/bassfishing/) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.
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