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High Muddy Water

Rain events last week have the riverbanks swollen and a bit muddy. Outgoing tides are clearer. Look for clear water. Grass beds are still holding fish.

Mostly cloudy skies this week with highs going from the mid 80s to around 90 for the weekend. Lows overnight in the upper 60s into the low 70s. Cooling water as well, upper 70s to low 80s.

Early morning low tides are going to set up a good topwater bite. Starting with Lucky Craft G-Splash 80 poppers, work grass edges and cast into holes inside the low water edge. Using Gamma Torque braid, 20 for spinning and 30-40 on casting reels, is a good idea around the thick grass. As long as the water is outgoing, it should be clear and good for the popper. With muddy water, buzzbaits, again on braid, can target fish in thicker grass. Hollow frogs are also a great choice as they can work in the thicker grass.

As the topwater bite slows, Mann's Baby 1-Minus can cover a lot of water. Firetiger patterns in clearer water along with shad patterns. In stained water, use red and craw patterns. Cast on 12-14 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, engage grass and snap free. Use swim jigs too. Try 1/4 once black/blue in stained water and green pumpkin variations in clearer water. 14-16 pound test Edge makes it easier to pop jigs out of grass. Keep craws in place with Pros Soft Bait Glue.

Fish sharp grass edges that drop into deeper water, or pad edges and marsh clumps, by pitching soft plastics like Texas rigged Mizmo tubes, weightless stickworms and even drop shot. Shakey head with 1/8-ounce heads is also working. Worms work, but stickworms seem to be producing a bit better.

Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River


The north end of the river is being ignored, as milfoil once again did not come up!  Post spawn areas are over hard cover and moving baits prevail. Dock fishing is tops! For the areas from Piscataway, Pohick and south, bass will be returning to main river grass and are in summer pattern. Check out shallow main river and creek mouth grass: Piscataway, Greenway Flats, Occoquan, Pohick, Mattawoman, Potomac and Aquia and hard cover like Spoils, Wilson Bridge pilings, the Pentagon lagoon wall, and Washington Channel. DC police don’t want you along Fort McNair. You need a DC fishing license and a Coast Guard approved safe boating course to fish or navigate in DC waters!

Mann’s Baby 1-Minus has been the all-time favorite bait on the Potomac River over wood and around and over grass ever since Dan Morehead won the 1996 BASSMASTER Top 100. It provides action at high speeds or slowly crawled through cover.  A 7-foot medium action composite rod like the Quantum KVD cranking rod allows long casts easy to rip from grass.  Try it on Quantum Smoke reels to be able to speed up or catch up!
BTW, NEW KVD Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles are an awesome replacement hook!  They don’t hang up on each other as much!

Under cloudy skies, early morning or with low water, try topwaters. Search for the clearest water and work top down. Post spawners fall for walking baits like the Lucky Craft GUNFISH 115, keep it moving after misses!  Otherwise, you won’t get them to come back very often! Warmer afternoons produce topwater action with poppers like Lucky Craft’s G-Splash and larger G-Splash 80. Low water is best no matter water clarity. In clear calm low light use small light colored poppers. With more chop and stained water, try darker and bigger baits like the Aurora Gold G-Splash 80.  Bigger baits create commotion in choppy water. When grass is matted, use HardNose Swim Toads and hollow Super Frogs from Mann’s!  For the toads I like a NEW 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point swimbait hook with adjustable weight to cast farther and to go faster, depending on the thickness of the grass! Use 60-pound test GAMMA Torque braid!

Buzzbaits bring up bigger fish. Add a 2/0 or 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Stinger hook. In general, if water is clear, speed up retrieve.  Slow down in stained water and go to a buzzbait like the Mann’s Classic buzzbait with a clacker. Have a follow-up bait ready on a spinning reel to cast to misses, like soft jerkbaits or stick worms like Mann’s HardNose Freefall worm. 

Target grass clumps and edges, pads, and docks with jigs and plastics. Try 1/2 and 3/8-ounce Stone Jigs with HardNose Mullets. A good pair of polarized sunglasses like Maui Jim Polarized Plus in Maui HT protects from UV A&B rays enabling you to spot wood, grass, etc. even in stained water. Mizmo tubes in Green pumpkin copper and blue craw and Mizmo’s new jig colors Texas rigged on a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Tube hooks with a 3/16 BULLSHOT weight work in heavy cover.  Also, Mustad’s new swimbait hooks make Mizmos come to life for swimming! In other cover, use Mud Puppy Custom Lures insert tube heads with a Mustad hook. Swim tubes over grass, around wood and through pads. Skip Mizmo tubes under docks and over shallow cover…skipping is more natural.  Fish slower in stained water.  On bright sunny days, fish hold tight to cover.  On cloudy days, fish might not stray too far from cover, so work deeper docks and nearby grass edges.  Docks with grass are usually better at higher tides on sunny days. Texas rigged bulky, thumping; Mizmo Swamp Monsters are a big fish bait!

Swimming jigs around docks and over grass is also working. I like the black/brown ½ ounce Mann’s Stone jig. Trim weed guards and use HardNose Mullets. This bait stays on really well.   Punch through grass mats with 60-pound GAMMA Torque on a 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point Tube hook with HardNose Mullets soaked in Jack’s Juice garlic spray. Use a ¾ or 1 ounce Round Valley-Tungsten weight. Look for mats with a mix of hydrilla and milfoil. Milfoil makes an archway exit/entrance to the mats.  

In Spoils and Smoots Carolina rigs, split shot rigs and drop shot rigs are great with Mann’s 5-inch Freefall worms on 3/0 Mega Lite Mustad hooks. For split shot rigs use bullet-shaped BULLSHOT split shot from Water Gremlin. In stained water drop shot darker baits on a 6-12 inch leader keeping baits in the strike zone around drops and near grass edges as long as you need it. Pitch to the bottom and gently shake. If you feel cover with your weight, leave to aggravate fish into biting. The Drop Shot can be flipped or pitched with heavy line. 

Cast stick worms like Mann’s green pumpkin 5" Freefall HardNose worm weightless Texas or wacky on 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite worm hooks and let drop…no other action required.  Let it sit and gently twitch.  Pull to the surface and drop again…back to the boat. If fish are chasing on the retrieve, go to moving baits or soft plastic jerkbaits.

As water rises, stay in contact with grass: the outside edge, the inside edge, and the TOP edge.  Work the top and inside edge as clear water rises and cover a lot of water with bladed jigs. I use a Mann’s HardNose Jerkbait as a trailer!  This is a huge target that stays on the hook!  Try craw patterns as well as traditional black/blue and white combos.

Go 4-10 feet deep with crankbaits on drops with Mann’s 15+ around the Spoils, Smoots, South Point, Fort Washington Lighthouse, and Hogg Island.  With 12-pound test GAMMA Copoly make longer casts to cover water. Try darker patterns, like firetiger and craw patterns.

Try Mann’s Classic, 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits at low tide and 3/8 at high.  The smaller bait comes through grass easier on short-targeted casts.  Larger baits work well at higher tides to cover water and work best under cloudy conditions, with a chop on the water.  In clearer water, go to willow/Colorado nickel blades with a white/chartreuse skirt. Stained water, white skirt and tandem Colorado/Indiana gold blades. Cast into pockets and across edges, maintaining contact. 16-20 pound test Gamma Fluorocarbon keeps baits higher over grass.

Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS contributor. For Potomac River reports: Book trips/purchase gift certificates:

"Take me fishing!" .·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·...¸> >

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