Fishing on the Potomac: December Preview

Fishing on the Potomac: December Preview
December 1, 2010, 7:33 pm
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 2:31 p.m.

By Captain Steve Chaconas

This is one of the last months you can really open the tackle box! There are still bass in the grass! Youll be able to use spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and even possibly some topwater (primarily during the warmest part of the day!). Bridges in DC are good for smallmouth, largemouth and stripers. They use pilings as current breaks and will be in the dead zone waiting for prey. Depth and how bass are using cover are more important now as water drops to 45 degrees and below. Slow down and bring baits into these zones. The Spoils, Smoot Bay (National Harbor), Fox Ferry, Hogg Island, Belle Haven, Oxen Cove, Blue Plains are the typical hangouts in the northern end of the Potomac River. Water temperature dictates how fast and how deep to fish. Colder water, fish slower and generally deeper. Some fish are shallow and easier to catch just about every day especially in stable weather. Several techniques produce under most conditions. Most are slow presentations!

Start with main river points and work your way north ambushing them at the creek points of the shallow creeks like Piscataway and Broad. Into the deeper creeks, follow them in the ditches and channels. In the Wilson Bridge area, follow the excavation ditches rimming the Spoils and Smoots (National Harbor). Fish closer to drops near water 10 feet deep when temperatures get down to 45, and near 4-6 foot drops when water is 50 or above. Look for deep water close by and sharp drops in those areas to find wintering bass. In Blue Plains, expect more active fish. When water gets below 45, cast and work 12-ounce Silver Buddys down drops on the bottom with short burps on 15-pound test Berkley 100 Fluorocarbon on a medium action casting rod. I prefer casting gear, as they are easier to cast while wearing Seal Skinz gloves.

For plastics fishing, downsize to 8 or even 6-pound test to feel more bites when water gets colder and fish arent aggressive. Theyll feel the drag of bigger lines and let go, before you feel them. Also, youre fishing deeper and further from the boat than in summer. Thinner lines get to the bottom and stay in wind and current. Youll feel bites better and have less drag in the water when you set the hook. Downsized baits like Manns 3 inch avocado Stingray grub on a 14 ounce round jig head made with Mustad hooks worked slowly down drops will produce. A dab of PROs Soft Bait Glue keeps the Stingray on. A good soaking in garlic Jacks Juice spray attractant keeps fish holding on longer with all soft plastics!

Drag 4-inch tubes with Gerkin weedless (R&R Custom Baits) tube heads, gliding down drops. Green pumpkin Mizmo tubes are the best place to start. Other colors: Blue Craw, Green Pumpkin Copper. Try MIZMO 4 inch grubs with the tail rigged UP on a 14-ounce round jig head.

Use drop shot once fish are found. A 14-ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot weight is perfect in current on 8-pound test Berkley Sensation line. A 20 Mustad wide gap Mega Lite worm hook works with Manns 4-inch Super Finesse worms. Feel pressure, set the hook. Remember, youre using lighter line, you dont need a giant hookset. This is a great way to catch them at Blue Plains. Probe flats near drops and points in Spoils and Smoots with split shot rigs with 316 ounce Water Gremlin Bullshot weights and Carolina rigs. Use a 20 Mustad Ultra Point Mega Lite hook with Manns 4-inch Super Finesse worms.

This month use Punisher Jigs in blackblue, greenorange and green-pumpkinorange with plastic matching chunks. Insert a Punisher metal rattle, the loudest attachable rattle you can find and it will not come off! Pitch to cover, drops and flats near drops and let it sit, occasionally shaking. Really good at Blue Plains, just let current move the bait. Most bites are light pickups, so watch your line!

When water is a bit warmer to around 50, find grass near deeper water and crank darker colored lipless crankbaits like Lucky Craft LVR D-7 that can be retrieved slower still making a lot of racket. Keep in contact with grass. Replace lipless crankbait hooks with KVD short shank Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles to make it tough for fish to throw. A 7-foot medium action Quantum KVD graphitecomposite rod allows long casts covering a lot of water, has enough give to keep the rod from pulling baits from fish, and backbone to set the hook and snap from grass.

For shallower fish, toss a tight wiggle crankbait. Manns Loudmouth III dives about 4 feet deep with 10-pound test line. The Loudmouth has rattles, better in slightly stained water. You can also go deeper with Manns 15 on 12-pound test.

Also Lucky Craft Pointer 78s are very effective in clear water around 50. Fish around hard cover that is warmer with the sun on it. Pointers are easy to cast in the wind. Baby Bass, Mat Pumpkin, Black Gold are my favorites. Use 12-pound test and a jerk, jerk, jerk, pause retrieve. Let it sit a while, vary cadence and length of pause. Works at Blue Plains around Spoils and Fox Ferry. Not a lot of guys throw jerkbaits, so youll have an edge.

When water warms above 45 degrees dont put away spinnerbaits especially on windy days! Go to the bank the wind is blowing on and toss a 38-ounce Manns Classic with a white skirt, and a gold willowColorado tandem. Slowly retrieve, bumping bottom. Youll catch the biggest fish of the season this way. To slow down, use a slower ratio reel with 15-pound test Trilene 100 Fluorocarbon. A medium 7 graphite rod has give for the subtle winter bite and enough backbone to set the hook! Dress in layers, protect your eyes with Maui Jim Polarized gray lenses.