WEEKLY UPDATED REPORT
Not the Best Weather
Not the best week to get on the water, but a good time to get ready for the weekend.
Water temperature still hovering in the low 40s. NBC Ch. 4 meteorologist "Weather Kim" Martucci says, “Wet week ahead. Looks like warmer weather will also bring rain. Mid 40s on Monday and Tuesday with mid 50s for the remainder of the week. Clearing a bit on Friday into the weekend. Overnight temperatures climbing from the upper 30s to the upper 40s.”
It's no fun to fish in the rain when it's cold, but fish will still be biting. All fishing presentations should be slowed down and use thin diameter line. Either 6 pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon alone or as a leader with Torque braid is good to detect light bites and for better hook sets.
In the clearest warmest water, like Blue Plains and other water discharge areas, suspending Lucky Craft Pointer 78 jerkbaits and Lucky Craft Bevy Shads can be worked slowly with pauses. Make long casts and use slight taps. The Bevy Shad has a diving lip, so lift the rod and pause.
Silver Buddy blade baits on 10-pound Edge can be cast to shallow sides of drops and worked down to find fish. Depth of fish is key. Work depths by lining up casts to stay in the strike zone. A medium action graphite rod enables good hooksets. Make sure hooks are sharp! Replace with Mustad round bend trebles.
As for soft plastics, grubs work well. Using 1/4-ounce ball head jigs, thread 3 inch avocado Mann's Stingray grubs or 4 inch Mizmo curl tailed grubs. Line remains 6-pound test Edge fluorocarbon either alone or as a leader with 15-pound test Torque braid.
Be patient and use 1/4 ounce or heavier Punisher hair jigs on the same line as the grubs. Spraying Jack’s Juice Bait Spray will soak into the hair and allow fish to hold on better. Works for soft plastics too. Tip Punisher jigs with small chunks or small Mizmo Swamp Monster craws. Black/blue combos in most cases. If the water is clear, there are plenty of nice craw patterns.
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a guide on the Potomac River email@example.com
Cold weather and shorter days are putting fish into winter patterns, a great time to fish. Look for steep drops! Take it slow, small and light…grubs, tubes, thin small worms, and hair jigs! Spinning gear handles lighter 6-pound test GAMMA Copoly or EDGE fluorocarbon. Mustad Ultra Point Mega-Bite hooks are thin enough wire to set hooks on hard-mouthed, cold fish from a longer distance on light line!
Crappie and bass are being caught in deeper spots out of the current, like Spoils, and Smoot Bay. DC Bridges are also spots to try, as is Washington Channel. The hot spot is Blue Plains…very crowded! There are many shad and other species; it’s hard to get baits through them. You have to “feel” fish before setting the hook! Drop shots, split shots are good, but Carolina rigs with 1-ounce Round Valley Premier tungsten weights keep baits in one spot a long time, letting current push baits. Generally, a 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Lizard in green pumpkin or watermelon/red works. Same baits on split shot and drop shot.
During heat of the day, near warmed rock and wood surfaces or close to Blue Plains, work suspending jerkbaits like Lucky Craft’s Pointer 78 in clearer water 45 degrees or warmer…warmer the better…50 is very warm this time of the year. Use 10-pound test. Jerk and pause…twitch…pause, twitch and sit. Before you jerk, crank baits down first. Try Lucky Craft S.K.T. DR RT here too! If other area water warms to 45, try crankbaits and spinnerbaits. For crankbaits, a tight wiggle suspending bait is needed like Lucky Craft Bevy Shads or S.K.T. DR RT, effective to about 5 feet. Spool 10-pound test and make long casts. Fish are not hitting very hard, so crankbait hooks become critical. Replace with Mustad Ultra Point trebles. Crank and pause. Both can also be worked like a jerkbait, short jerks and long pauses. Spinnerbaits, like Mann’s Classic 3/8 ounce or heavier with willow/Colorado gold blades retrieved near flats out of current, close to deeper drops, pausing when you don’t feel the bottom, will work. Slow down with a slower reel or slow it down by slightly under-spooling. White or white/chartreuse skirts.
Bass are grouped on drops. Make bait transitions as fronts pass. Temperature gauge is the most important boat instrument and your PFD the most important piece of gear. Dress in layers, take a buddy and let others know where you are going to be. A fall into the river this time of year can be fatal!
The king of all winter baits is the Silver Buddy! The company is making them again. Cast to 3-foot depths and burp down drops to deeper water. Vertically jig over 8-15 foot holes. Don’t overwork! Control drops on semi slack line back to bottom. Feel a “tick” or feel fish when you lift again. For tackle, use a 7-foot medium action graphite Quantum rod and 12-pound test GAMMA Copoly. Casting gear is easier to cast while wearing HANZ Extremity Wear gloves. Replace dull hooks, cutting the eye near the shank, open, attach and close. Split rings allow hooks to catch each other. I replace factory hooks with Mustad Ultra Point Trebles. Blade baits locate groups of fish. Take note of depth and stay on them.
For bottom baits, try three: Mann’s Stingray Grubs, Mizmo Tubes, and 1/4-ounce Punisher Hair Jigs with plastic Punisher chunks. Thinner diameter line offers less resistance, encouraging fish to hold on longer. Thin diameter makes it easier to feel light bites and set hooks on longer casts, and gets to the bottom, holding in wind and current. I use Gamma Copoly 6-pound test. Slow down, stopping when you contact cover! Every little bit helps, soak these in Jack’s Juice garlic, sprayed into bait bags soaking into plastic.
For 3-inch avocado Mann’s Stingray grubs, use 1/4-ounce round jig heads. Rig tails flat. A drop of PRO’s Soft Bait glue keeps grubs on hooks! Cast to bottom lifting the rod, slowly drop, creating a very slow gliding motion into cover. Green pumpkin Mizmo tubes rigged with a 1/4-ounce Mud Puppy Custom baits weedless insert tube head made with Mustad Hooks make this bait glide. Punisher Hair jigs...black/blue (blue chunk with Punisher rattle), olive/orange (green chunk with Punisher rattle).
Drop shotting becomes very effective the colder it gets, near 40 or below. Fish group on drops on South Point, Smoots, Spoils, barges above the Wilson Bridge, and Foxes Ferry. Using 6 pound test, keep leaders about 6 inches or less. A good drop shot rod has enough backbone to hook set on long casts, but flexible enough when working under the boat. Quantum Smoke spinning reels have smooth drag systems for the lighter line. Use a 3/16-ounce Water Gremlin BULLSHOT bullet-shaped split shot weight. Rig Stingray grubs or a 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worm on 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks. Feel cover with weights, leave in this location as long as possible, aggravating fish into biting.
Work split shot rigs with 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks and Stingray Grubs or 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worms with a 1/8-ounce BULLSHOT weight dragged very slowly and stopped. Feel weight, set the hook. Let baits fall down drops. Pause in strike zones.
Warmed water, even just a few degrees, can make fish more active. Wind blown banks are great places to start. Baitfish follow the food chain and winter bass actively feed under these conditions! High-pressure cold fronts with clear sunny skies force bass to take cover and go deeper, not eating as much. Target cover with repeated casts. Work very slowly!!! Start shallow, work deeper. There are shallow fish all times of the year. Next time you catch a fish, see if there’s dirt in belly scales. This shows how long fish have been on the bottom. Lots of silt, go slower!!!
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS contributor. For Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.
"Take me fishing!" .·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·...¸> >
|Webmaster||E-mail National Bass Guide Service||Home|