Areas that stay warm: Quantico Creek, Blue Plains and Four Mile Run. Out of the current areas: Spoils, Smoots, Belle Haven, Oxen Cove, Washington Channel, an military docks at Pohick Bay and the Pentagon Lagoon have deep water.
In Four Mile Run, the point in front of the restaurant is a great place to use Silver Buddy lures and dropshots. Deeper water around the marina is also good. Just up the creek, water temperature can rise to near 60. Riprap and bridge pilings are great places to toss stickworms like MIZMO’s 5-inch Quiver Stix worm on Gamma Fluorocarbon. Topwaters aren’t out of the question! I prefer to toss Lucky Craft Pointer 78 lures in Baby Bass and other “natural” patterns. Mann’s Baby 1-Minus is good. At Blue Plains, work drop shot, split shot, Carolina rigs, with 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Lizards soaked in garlic Jack’s Juice very slowly. Lucky Craft’s Pointer will work too! Don’t leave without using green/orange Punisher Hair jigs on 6-pound test Gamma Copoly. When tides fall, the Blue Plains dock is great...under on sunny and around front on cloudy days.
Fox Ferry fish are grouped on drop-offs, 6-15 feet deep depending on water temperature. On warmer tides, use tight wiggle crankbaits like Mann’s Loudmouth III in craw patterns, chartreuse/brown back on 10-pound test. Crank parallel to the Ferry and pause when contacting cover. Same works on riprap around Oxen Cove.
The Spoils has plenty of drops, concrete islands, a jetty, a few wreck remnants, and a ditch rimming outside. Below the bridge Smoot Bay has similar drops and two obvious points, one north and one south. Other less obvious spots seldom fished: Fort Washington Lighthouse Point and Hogg Island. Locate deep water near flats with cover out of current.
The 1/2-ounce size Silver Buddy is my favorite, but 1/4 when the bite is tough. Cast on 10-pound test Gamma Copoly on casting gear to 3-foot depths and work down drops with very short burps, noting where bites come. Depths depend on water temperature and how long water has been at that temperature. Fish aren’t chasing baits, when you get one; you’ve found the day’s winter depth. Sometimes you’ll feel a tick on the drop, set the hook! Other times, you cannot feel anything, except pressure or weight when you move the bait. Don’t overwork! For rods, I really like Quantum’s KVD PTC666FKV med/heavy graphite rod. Replace worn Silver Buddy hooks…use Mustad Ultra Point split shank trebles, or cut the hook eye, twist open, attach, snap back to close.
The plastics bite is light. Move baits (Mann’s 3-inch avocado Stingray grubs, Mizmo 4-inch tubes, 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worms, and 1/4 ounce Punisher Hair Jigs) with 6-8 pound test Gamma Copoly very slowly, stopping frequently. Punisher Hair Jigs (www.punisherjigs.com) are awesome jigs for cold water...compact and the hair breathes, prompting strikes when sitting! Use 1/4-ounce Punisher Hair jigs in two colors…black/blue, and olive/orange. Light line and Punisher Chunks with rattles worked very slowly. Attractants like Jack’s Juice get fish to hold on longer! A quick spray of Jack’s Juice into the bag soaks into plastic. Punisher hair jigs soak up the Juice! “Gel” style attractants make the hair clog up! Keep rod tips lower to set the hook. Not a huge hookset, just reel and lift.
Use a 1/4-ounce round jig head with Mustad hooks for Stingray grubs on spinning gear. PRO’S Soft Bait Glue keeps grubs in place! Work on bottom slowly, stopping often. Rather than hopping, lift, glide and stop, shake every once in a while. Mizmo Barbwire shaky heads work well too! Start with 6-inch worms, cut until you get the right size.
Let MIZMO tubes (greens in clearer water, browns fishing deeper or when water is stained) sit, glide and stop, occasionally shaking. The ¼ ounce single wire weed guard R&R insert head made with MUSTAD hooks gives better hookups on light bites with the open hook.
Continue catching fish found with Silver Buddys. Drop shotting works: 6-pound test, leaders 8 inches or less, a 3/16-ounce BULLSHOT bullet shaped split shot weight. Rig 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worms on 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks. Let baits go to the bottom, gently shake. Find cover with your weight. This rig aggravates fish into biting; the longer you leave it there.
In 45-degree water throw crankbaits and spinnerbaits! Not many throw spinnerbaits. The round head of Mann’s Classic with willow/Colorado gold blades keeps baits down, bumping cover. Lucky Craft’s Bevy Shad Black gold, mat pumpkin, and chartreuse blue crankbait, effective to about 6 feet, has a lot of vibration at very slow speeds. It also suspends. Using 10-pound or 8-pound test, make long casts, crank it down and slowly sweep rod, making long pauses. Let sit to entice strikes. Fish are not hitting hard, crankbait hooks become more critical. If in doubt, replace with Mustad Ultra Point trebles.
All plastic techniques work when using Silver Buddys to find fish. Use plastics as a change-up. Generally fish stay in the area, moving up and down drops. A few degrees up or down changes fish location and mood. Speed is the key….sloooooow down.
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS contributor. For Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.
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