One of the best months for big Potomac bass! Fish move up, staging near spawning flats, creek mouths, backs of coves, out-of-the-current areas! Start slow, then speed up! Moving baits cover water, but once you find what’s holding them, slow with plastic and jig presentations. Dock fishing is starting! Longer days, warmer temperatures make it easier to catch shallow fish. Look for Milfoil and Eel grasses emerging on main river areas above and below the Wilson Bridge, the mouths of Swan, Broad and Piscataway creeks and Washington Channel along Fort McNair…keys to finding and catching bass. Hard cover, like rip rap, docks, laydowns and barges are places to find bass. Woodrow Wilson bridge pilings provide cover at varying depths. Fish bite nearly every bait, depending on water temperature and clarity.
Wind, rain, fronts, have a huge impact. Water clarity dictates speed, bait and color choice. Warmest water comes later in the day. Slow in cooler mornings, and faster as the day warms…plastics in the morning, moving baits in the afternoon. Seek warm, clear water. Blue Plains temperatures are in mid 60’s! Dock below Blue Plains is better on outgoing tides. On sunny days, fish hold tight. On cloudy days, cover areas around docks. Catch them deeper with drop shot and Sting Ray grubs, but open up the tackle box with crankbaits and spinnerbaits…lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits.
This is time to get big bass on suspending jerkbaits in water 45-55 degrees. Aurora Gold, and Baby Bass Lucky Craft Pointer 78’s are a good size, and cast well into the wind! Try the Pointer 100 in deeper water or on cloudy days with stained water. Two keys: length of pause and how hard you either jerk or tap the bait. Fish will tell you what they want. Clearest water, try American Shad, Clown and other fish-like colors. Another good Lucky Craft bait for cold water, the Bevy Shad, has a very tight wiggle and glances off cover very well, also suspending. Try same colors, cranking to cover and stop…twitch gently for shallow fish on cover near drops! Add a Mustad Ultra Point red treble on the belly.
Mann’s 3-inch Stingray avocado colored bait on a 3/16-ounce Mizmo N-Seine round jig head with a Mustad Ultra Point hook is appetizing to lethargic early spring bass. Soak in garlic flavored Jack’s Juice to keep fish holding on longer! Let it go to the bottom, slowly lifting. The bite feels like weight, set the hook. Cast green pumpkin, blue craw or river craw Mizmo tubes with R&R Custom Baits 1/4-ounce weedless tube heads, using a similar presentation as the grub, for a gliding action. Try Mizmo jig tubes in Arkansas Craw and Blue Screamer.
Drop shot cover or at Blue Plains. The drop shot weight “feels” drops or cover. Keep leaders about 8 inches with a 3/16-1/4 ounce BULLSHOT bullet shaped split shot weight. Try MIZMO 5” Doodle worms, shaky head style on 3/16 and smaller MIZMO Barbwire jig heads, using the same technique as the drop shot, gently shaking to aggravate fish into biting. MIZMO’s softer body produces lifelike action. A good rod for shaky heads and drop shotting enables you to work baits better and set the hook under a load…a rod with about the last quarter or less flexing. Quantum’s Drop Shot rod is perfect allowing shaking without making baits jump out of cover! Go to light line for plastics and jigs, 6-8 pound test GAMMA Copoly. Split shot rigs cover water with 3/16 or 1/4-ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot come through cover. Rig Mann’s 5-inch green pumpkin HardNose Finesse worms on 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite hooks. Drag slowly, stopping when contacting cover or moving down drops. Work around Spoils, Smoot Bay and South Point and in Blue Plains. Feel weight? Set the hook! For deeper applications or in wind, beef up with Carolina rigs with Round Valley Tungsten weights for better feel.
Bigger fish are coming on jigs, specifically 3/8 oz. Punisher Hair jigs, a small bulky package with hair that really breathes. Punisher chunks with rattles make this bait a great light-line bait. Try black/blue, green/brown and green orange colors on 8-pound test GAMMA Copoly on spinning gear fishing shallow or deep. (www.punisherjigs.com).
While wind makes fishing difficult, wind-blown banks, flats and cover can be productive until water becomes visibly muddy. Wind pushes food sources against shorelines, causing a feeding frenzy down the food chain activating bass, making it great for slow rolling Mann’s Classic 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits with gold Colorado/willow blades. Mann’s Classic round head deflects off cover acting as a keel to right the bait quicker. For light bites, try a fast action 7’med/heavy graphite rod; otherwise a medium heavy rod. At low tides around heavy cover, Mann’s Baby 1-Minus is perfect.
Lipless crankbaits find fish and emerging grass once water hits 55 degrees. Grass in April is a gold mine. Thinner and taller Lucky Craft LVR D-7’s can be fished through grass. To go slower and deeper, try the heavier LV-500 or the new RTO 250. When ripped from grass, they drop in a more controlled fashion, triggering strikes. Other lipless baits roll over, catching line, taking a few turns to get back on track. Use a medium action Quantum KVD composite 7-foot rod cranking for casting distance. GAMMA 14-pound test fluorocarbon is perfect for ripping free from grass or hook sets on long casts. Set the hook when the rod is loaded. Red colors are best when bumping bottom, shad patterns are better when ticking tops of grass, gold in stained water. Hooks are typically a problem for most lipless crankbaits, so upgrade to quality hooks like the NEW KVD short shank Ultra Point Triple Grip trebles from Mustad. They’re angled, very difficult for bass to throw, especially fish hooked on longer casts. The short shank allows you to replace factory hooks with the next size up!
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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