Massive hydrilla and milfoil grass on the Potomac are going, going, gone! Target hard cover and drop-offs. Look for rock, wood and docks! Fish are moving and eating! Reaction baits get the job done…take note of speed. Search baits like squarebill cranks, lipless crankbaits, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits with cloud cover or chop on the water can locate grass and fish. Early November fishes entirely differently than the end. Transition from late fall into early winter takes place.
Blue Plains is a great fishery…but crowded. Carolina rigs, split shot and drop shots are good choices. Downsize line to 6-10 clear, low-stretch line on spinning gear like GAMMA EDGE Fluorocarbon. For deeper applications, South Point & Spoils are great Carolina rig spots. There’s some topwater activity, but you must exercise patience. Fish will either be on the edge of the drop or in ditches or channels. Clear water areas around Blue Plains and Four Mile Run are great locations for jerkbaits like Lucky Craft’s Pointer 100. In very clear water, go to the Pointer 78. This is a light line 10-pound test Edge fluorocarbon line presentation on a medium action graphite rod. Let baits sit for varying lengths of time; fish tell you what pause they want. Try gold and firetiger patterns. Clearer water, more movement.
Spinnerbaits, like a 1/4-ounce Mann’s Classic with Indiana/Colorado gold blades, work around wood, especially when water is a bit stained. For deeper applications when water cools to 50 degrees, slow roll a 3/8-ounce willow/Colorado across cover near drops.
Cranking is the best pattern for the Spoils, Smoots, Fox Ferry and other deep-water access spots. Target shallow fish first, with Mann’s Baby 1-Minus. Medium bodied crankbaits like Mann’s C-4, Baby X and tight wiggle Loudmouth I and II work in firetiger and chartreuse with brown back patterns. Bigger-body baits are best in stained and/or colder water. Try Mann’s 15+ for deeper cover and edges. Use 12-pound test GAMMA COPOLY on a 7-foot medium action graphite rod making long casts. Change belly hooks to Mustad Ultra Point RED hook Trebles.
Along grass edges and tops, try lipless crankbaits like the 1/2-ounce size Lucky Craft LVR D-7 in shad colors for fairly clear water, or gold and craw colors in stained water. Shallower, go to smaller ¼ ounce size LV-100. Make long casts on 7-foot medium action KVD Quantum cranking rods with 12-pound test GAMMA fluorocarbon to find scattered grass. Good treble hooks are a must for long casts! Mustad Ultra Point KVD Short Shank Triple Grip Treble hooks are not only very sharp and angled making it harder for fish to throw, but short shanks allow you to move up a size.
For Carolina rigs, use 30-pound test GAMMA Torque braid for main line, 12-pound test GAMMA EDGE Fluorocarbon for leader. Mustad Mega Bite hooks on Mann’s HardNose green pumpkin lizards with 3/4-ounce Round Valley Tungsten weights locate cover and bottom composition, especially down steeper drops. Shallower and lighter split shot rigs work on 10 or even 8-pound test GAMMA COPOLY with 3/16 or 1/4-ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot bullet–shaped split shots that come through cover. Stickworms like 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Freefall work well when rigged on a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Bite hook. Slowly drag and stop! Hit cover? Leave there!
Drop shot rigs can be fished deep or shallow. When you contact cover with a c-rig or crankbait, try dropshots with leaders 8 inches or less and 3/16-ounce Water Gremlin BULLSHOT weights. Using the weight on your drop shot, feel your way to drops…or grass edges, leave in these locations as long as you can. Rig Mann’s Stingray grubs on 1/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks or 3/0 with a 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse worm. Pitch around docks! Soaking baits in Jack’s Juice penetrates plastic giving you an edge.
Warming clear, calm, and low water, smaller top water baits like Lucky Craft G-Splash-65 in natural colors with a pop and stop retrieve works. Note activity under baits; small swirls indicate a bass coming up to take a look. Don’t pop the bait. Pull to activate feathers. It’s very important to have good feathered-trebles. Mustad makes a great one with Ultra Point trebles also in RED hooks. Blue Plains will be fishable on top into December. Stable water temperatures above 50+ degrees on sunny days near rock, wood, or grass will produce topwater strikes. Throw popping baits on 8 pound Copoly line. Clearer water, longer casts. Use a 7-foot medium heavy rod…moderate fast tip. Don’t count on this to put a lot of fish in the boat…it’s just more fun. Try the last hour of a warm day!
Tube fishing is strong, fished deep or shallow, depending on water temperature and clarity. In most cases green-pumpkin/copper, green pumpkin orange, and blue craw colored MIZMO tubes on tube heads make this rig the best bottom bait. In stained water, darker colors are best. For heaviest cover, Texas rig a 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Tube hook with a 3/16 or ¼ ounce BULLSHOT. Punisher Rattles can be attached to the insert tube head for a rattle that won’t come off Mizmo tubes or plastic jig chunks! (www.punisherjigs.com) Swimming or pitching bulkier baits like 3/4 ounce Stone Jigs in black/blue, or green pumpkin with a matching Mann’s HardNose Flippin’ Craw are good choices depending on water clarity, near grass clumps, especially on sunny days.
Shorter days, the sun coming in at a lower angle, I switch to gray polarized sunglasses, from Maui Jim, offering 3 different layers of polarization. They’re still great for picking out cover, but really cut low angle fall and winter glare. I wear them for eye protection this time of the year. I recommend the Maui Jims (www.mauijim.com).
When cold fronts come through, one of the best baits is Mann’s Stingray 3” grub in avocado on a 1/4 ounce round jig head on 8 pound test GAMMA COPOLY line on spinning gear. Drag slowly over drops from 2-5 feet and deeper, depending on how big the weather change is. Shaky head fishing with light line just about anywhere with 5-inch Mann’s HardNose Finesse Worms on a 1/8 ounce Mizmo BarbWire head will get bites when all else fails.
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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