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Cover Water, Fish Hard Cover

Fall fishing is coming. Moving lures will find fish over grass and on hard cover.

Water is cooling into the mid 60s. Sunny and a few clouds to start the week in the mid 70s. 60s overnight. Cooling into the mid 60s and lows in the 40s with sunshine going into the weekend.

Tides will be rising until midday, perfect for Lucky Craft G-Splash poppers. Make long casts on 12-pound test Gamma Copoly line. Vary speeds to find the fish trigger. Locate remaining grass patches and fish in, around and next to them.

Another awesome search bait, with rising water, is a shad pattern Lucky Craft LV-100 on 12-pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. Find deeper grass and snap free and pause. Fluorocarbon line makes it easier to set the hook and to snap from grass. Keep baits in the deepest grass as the tide moves in.

With about a foot of water over grass remnants, try a Mann's Baby 1-Minus or a 1/4-ounce Classic spinnerbait. Both on 12 pound Edge. Contact grass and snap free. Hesitate and resume retrieve. Firetiger for the crankbait and white or firetiger skirts for the spinnerbait.

At high tides with sun, fish will use docks. Texas rigged green pumpkin Mizmo tubes or Quiver Stix can be skipped under docks and around pilings. Lay downs and riprap are also good high water targets.

Disappearing grass will be like musical chairs with fish grouping on remnants. When tides fall, focus soft plastic presentations. Texas rigged Mizmo tubes imitate crawfish. Use a 3/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook on 14-pound Edge with a 3/16-ounce weight. Pitch to thicker clumps. Spray with Jack's Juice garlic to encourage fish to hold on longer.

Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River


Finally a break in the heat…the nights are getting a bit longer to allow water to cool overnight, making early morning topwater bites even better! It’s also a good time to put the pedal to the trolling motor and move with the fish. At lower tides, fish will position on outside grass edges and will move in with tides.

Starting with topwaters. Buzzbaits, with 2/0 Mustad Ultra Point stinger hooks on braid over grass and near docks and wood is a good choice. Try poppers like Lucky Craft G-Splash…smaller and faster in clear water…work up in size.  Start with natural colors and go darker. The subtle Lucky Craft G-Splash spits and has rattles.  When water has a bit of chop or a bit stained, go to Aurora Gold.  More chop; bigger Lucky Craft G-Splash 80.  Shorter casts when fishing stained water and longer casts when water is calm and clear. Use a 7’ Quantum KVD medium heavy action graphite rod. For clear calm conditions, walk a Lucky Craft Gunfish 115 anywhere around grass or wood. Replace worn feathered hooks with Mustad dressed Ultra Point Trebles: sharp and hand-tied with colorful feathers and reflective material adding light flash and action.  Feathers pull together when moving baits, then open while sitting to get second chance bites. Try Mustad red hooks! Topwater bite can last all day.

Hollow frogs and soft plastic toads are great in thick grass. Mann’s HardNose Frogs stay on the hook much better and have a slightly bigger profile! Mann’s hollow frog floats over grass and can be twitched over the holes!  Great choices…throw both on Gamma Torque braid. Mann’s new 10” HardNose snake can be worked on top or just below the surface with weighted Mustad swimbait hooks.

Mann’s Classic spinnerbaits and Baby 1-Minus work when topwaters slow. Speed is key. Also, Mann’s Waker baits work over grass. Chop or stained water, cloud cover at higher tides, the 3/8-ounce Classic spinnerbait, willow/Colorado combination and a white skirt, burned around and near cover produces hard strikes.  Faster Quantum Burner reels spooled with 16 or 20-pound GAMMA Edge Florourcarbon and a 7’ medium heavy rod to cover bigger areas.  Bump and rip. At lowest tides, use 1/4-ounce Mann’s Classic with gold blades in all but the clearest water.  For clear water, use double willow nickel blades with firetiger skirts.

Try the Woodrow Wilson Bridge pilings and drops and in and around Spoils, Smoot Bay (National Harbor), and the Fort Washington lighthouse. Fish might not be grouped; however, these spots replenish. Boat channels in grass around main river docks are target areas. Crank the Wilson Bridge, Fox Ferry, and Spoils. Mann’s 15+ has a wide wobble.  For shallower applications, the new Mann’s Baby X is perfect, coming through wood very well.  On sunniest days, get tight to cover.  With clouds, fish use cover as a current break. Fish will tell you where they are positioned and on what type of cover. Water temperatures range from 70 to 80 degrees.

Backs of Swan, Piscataway, and Little Hunting Creeks are good spots to pitch plastics and jigs. Green pad beds around Mount Vernon hold fish. Wind blown mats hold fish too. Punch through the grass canopy especially on sunny days. Get reaction strikes with a 1 to 1.5 ounce pegged Round Valley Tungsten weight. A 5/0 Mustad Flipping hook and 60lb GAMMA TORQUE braided line with a 7’6” Quantum Biffle flipping stick and a strong reel will get the big ones out! Maui Jim Polarized–Plus HT lens are ideal for low light to full sun conditions to help you see cover.

Drop shot bridge pilings, docks and deep grass edges with 12-18 inch leader. Using 12-pound test and 3/16-ounce BULLSHOT bullet shaped split shot weights, rig HardNose Finesse worms on 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks. Pitch and let settle on the bottom and gently shake. Find cover with your weight, leave to aggravate fish into biting.

Swim Mann’s HardNose 5” swimbaits on a 7/0 Mustad Ultra Point Swimbait hook with adjustable ¼ ounce weight to make any bait a good swimbait.  Rip free from grass. Watch for bites on fall.

Split shot rigs on 10-pound test in deeper areas in front of the grass lines at falling tides and on hard bottom deeper areas.  A 3/16-ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot bullet–shaped split shot comes through cover well. Fluorocarbon lines like GAMMA EDGE help you feel bites and get baits down faster.  Stickworms like 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Freefall worms work well rigged on a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Lite hook or wacky rigged...add 1/8-ounce weight to get to the bottom to dead stick!  Slowly drag and stop! When you hit cover leave as long as you can!

Soaking Mizmo tubes in garlic Jack’s Juice, that penetrates plastic, eliminates re-applying.  Pitch Mizmo 4-inch Arkansas Craw tubes…green pumpkin with orange tails to grass edges, docks and scattered deeper grass.  Quarter-ounce Mud Puppy Custom Baits insert tube heads provide the best open water action. In heaviest cover Texas rig 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Tube hooks with 1/8 or 3/16 BULLSHOT.  Punisher Rattles can be attached to plastic chunks, jigs and to Mud Puppy insert tube heads for a rattle that won’t come off Mizmo tubes! (

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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