Bass generally prefer grass to wood in the same spot. Docks with grass best at high tides. At lower tides, bass move to grass. On sunniest days, get tight to cover. With clouds, fish use cover as a current break. Milfoil edges and boat channels around the front of docks are targets. Crank to 4-6 feet around the Fort Washington lighthouse, South Point, Spoils, the Wilson Bridge and other deeper areas. Make repeated casts to good-looking spots. Fish will tell you where they are positioned and on what type of cover.
Water temperatures range from 85 and up! Cooler mornings are best for topwaters, but hollow frog bite at low tides anytime! Replace worn feathered popper hooks with Mustad dressed Ultra Point Trebles: sharp and hand-tied with colorful feathers and reflective material adding light, flash and action to topwaters and Mann’s Baby 1-Minus lures. Feathers pull together when moving baits, then open while sitting to get the second chance bite after misses. The slightest movement gets feathers moving. Try red hooks!
Topwater tips for the Potomac…smaller/faster in clear water…start small and work up in size with natural colors and then go darker. 4 categories of top water popping baits. The subtle approach for clear water on calm days: Lucky Craft G-Splash spits and has rattles. When the water has a bit of a chop or is a bit stained, go to Aurora Gold. More chop go to bigger Lucky Graft G-Splash 80. Chop and stained water use the most intrusive top water of all, darker G-Splash 80. Make shorter casts when fishing muddy water and longer casts when the water is calm and clear. Use a 7’ medium heavy action moderate fast tip Quantum Tour Edition graphite rod. For clear calm conditions, walk a Lucky Craft Gunfish around grass or wood. Move to spinnerbaits and Mann’s Baby 1-Minus when topwater bite slows. Mann’s Waker in the larger size is perfect with enough water over grass!
If a fish misses topwaters, cast follow-up baits: watermelon and green pumpkin MIZMO Quiver Stix stick worms sprayed with Jack’s Juice hooked wacky style with a 2/0 Mustad weedless wacky hook. (www.mustad.no) GAMMA EDGE 100% fluorocarbon line allows baits to fall more naturally.
Chop on the water, stained water, or cloud cover at higher tides, Mann’s Classic spinnerbait, willow/Colorado combination and a white skirt, burned around and near cover is producing hard strikes. A faster reel like the Quantum Burner spooled with 14 or 16-pound GAMMA EDGE line and 6’6” medium heavy rod is best for targeting close cover, or a 7 footer to cover open areas. Bump cover and rip free. At the lowest tides, use 1/4-ounce Mann’s Classic with gold blades in all but the clearest water. For clear water, use a nickel blade and double willow with firetiger skirts. Higher tides 3/8-ounce is easier to work deeper. No spinnerbait bite, go to crankbaits like Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, at lower tides work short casts around cover and grass clumps. Vary your retrieve. Here, you need a 7-foot medium action graphite rod with backbone to rip free from grass.
Fish pad edges and punch through grass mat canopies, especially on sunny days. Get reaction strikes with 1 to 1.25 ounce Round Valley Tungsten weights. A bobber stopper from Jann’s Netcraft will keep weights fixed to Mann’s HardNose Flippin’ Craws. A 3/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook and GAMMA TORQUE braid 60 pound test braided line with a flipping stick along with a strong Quantum reel will get big ones out!
Otherwise, you have to create commotion to get them to come up. Mann’s hollow soft Super Frog is perfect for this. I replace the rubber skirt with rabbit fur from Jann’s Netcraft and a drop of Pro’s Soft Bait Glue! Drop in 2 round glass rattles! Buzzbaits with stinger hooks work well over grass and wood. TORQUE braid helps hook-sets! I also like Mann’s HardNose Swim Toad in white, black green pumpkin, and watermelon, depending on water clarity and chop. The Mustad Swim Bait hooks work very well for these toads! The bayonet keeper and 60-degree bend make it a perfect fit! The HardNose keeps baits in place, even in the heaviest grass! They also work in the middle of the day! Spool 60-pound GAMMA TORQUE not only for no stretch on long casts and strength, but also the bigger diameter makes it easier for casting gear.
Swimbaits are great in fairly clear water and can be fished horizontally and vertically. Pitch into grass clumps or swim over and drop. 16-pound test GAMMA EDGE Fluorocarbon line is best! Med/Heavy rod for good hooksets. I’m also using Mustad weighted swimbait hooks. The 7/0 with 1/4 oz. built-in adjustable weight hold very well in a Mann’s HardNose swimbait…white/blue back. The weight is movable to get the correct balance with any bait and allows you to cover more depths and speeds.
The most unique and effective chatter jig is one I build with a spinner below creates a thump and scatter movement! Thread a HardNose soft JerkShad trailer and this is a big fish bait! Swim or skim white or green pumpkin Stone jigs with white or white/chartreuse trailer. Mann’s Stone Jig’s pointed head comes through grass better and its bait keeper keeps trailers on straight and secure with a dab of Pro’s Soft Bait Glue. Swim 5.5-inch Mizmo tubes Texas rigged with a 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point Swimbait hook…again the bayonet keeper allows this bait to swim! I stuff a piece of plastic worm into the bait to provide a better grip for the bayonet. Swim baits and rip free from grass and drop into grass holes. Watch for the bite on the fall.
Soaking Mizmo tubes in garlic Jack’s Juice that penetrates plastic eliminates re-applying. I have been using the green-pumpkin/orange
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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