UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Good Grass Awaits on the Potomac

Good Grass Awaits on the Potomac

Tides, grass and perhaps the best fishing the Potomac River has offered in years are all set to greet 144 boaters and co-anglers on the first day of competition in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division. The Potomac River event is presented by Plano and hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners and is being held right about a week earlier than last year’s Potomac River stop of the Walmart FLW Tour. With any luck, the fishing should be even better than the pros saw last June.

 

About the fishery

The Potomac River is the best known of the Mid-Atlantic tidal fisheries and flows right through Washington D.C. and past many historic and military landmarks, especially on the Virginia side of the river. Though there are smallmouths in the river, largemouths are the focus of tournament anglers almost all the time. Last year, Clark Wendlandt won the FLW Tour event by fishing docks with a vibrating jig and a jig, but that’s not usually the case on the river. Though “hard cover” such as rocks, duck blinds and docks can play a role, the real attraction for fishermen and bass is the grass. From spatterdock and pads to hydrilla and eelgrass, there’s a bit of everything in the Potomac, but the main player is usually milfoil, which can grow in thick beds beneath the surface as well as topped out in the shallows or when the tide is low.

Though things change from year to year, it sounds like the Potomac is ready to show out.

“It’s fishing really well right now. Compared to the last few years, it’s really had a bounce back,” says Ryan Ingalls, a local competitor. “I think that can be directly attributed to not having a flood in the spring. We’ve had that the last few years, and that’s really torn up a lot of the grass. There’s more grass in the river now than there’s been in three, four or five years probably.”

The increase in grass is likely good overall, but it’s still a lot to pick through. The bass aren’t everywhere, and there is plenty of good-looking water on both the main river and in the large creeks and bays.

The tide also offers an additional challenge. Though the techniques used on the Potomac aren’t much different from any other grassy Northern lake, learning to understand how the bass, the tides and the habitat all interact is a whole different ballgame. Some, like local favorite Bryan Schmitt, have perfected it. Others will elect to run a few spots or camp in a productive area to see all the varying levels. This week, low tide is going to be around lunchtime, so most anglers will get to fish both a falling and rising tide throughout the day.

 

Current conditions

Today has dawned warm, humid and very cloudy. If the weather report holds true, day one should be pretty good, with warm air, some rain and a moderate wind out of the northeast. Friday is projected to be a whole different ballgame, with lots of rain and strong northeast winds. Saturday should be cooler, post-frontal with a moderate northeast breeze, and sunny and dry.

 

Ryan Smith

Tactics in play

Almost all the bass in the river are postspawn now, and while some anglers will target fry-guarders, most are planning on focusing on fish that are putting on the summer feedbag. The Potomac has always been a good place to throw a topwater, and poppers and frogs should play a role. There will also be plenty of ChatterBaits, swim jigs, flipping baits and Senkos tied on. We could see some square-bill crankbaits come into play, but that’s only likely around hard cover such as riprap and docks.

 

Critical Factors

- The water color: Most of the river has very good water color at the moment, but strong winds or rain could muddy up certain areas a lot. Staying in fairly clean water is likely to be important.

- Crowding: Anglers have a tendency to concentrate into productive areas on the Potomac, and this event is likely to be par for the course to an extent. The pro who has free reign in an area or a slightly different approach might be well off.

- The tide: Everyone knows the tide is a factor, but not everyone will play it correctly. Sheer luck and a good tide on the right bit of cover can also make a pro look like a genius in a hurry. If someone can take advantage of the tide instead of fighting it, he could be on the fast track to success.

 

Dock Talk

As usual, the projections are pretty well split between anglers, and not everyone is going to light it up. That said, locals such as Ingalls and FLW Tour pro Michael Hall have seen enough to say that the fishing should be quite good.

“I know it’s fishing good, and I expect it’s going to take more weight than it would have last year,” says Hall. “I would predict that for three days it will take about 55 pounds to win, and I believe a lot of fish will get weighed in. On my last guide trip, I took out a 60-year-old mother and her 40-year-old daughter, and they caught a 5-pounder, a 4-pounder and several 3-pounders. I really would have liked to have been in a tournament that day.”

“The river is really clean even though it had a blowout tide all weekend,” adds Ingalls. “Everything looks good, and it’s been taking over 20 pounds to win pretty much every tournament this year, so I would expect it to continue to be big. It’s gonna be fun.”

 

Tournament Details

Format: All 144 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Smallwood State Park, 2750 Sweden Point Road, Marbury, Md., 20658

Weigh-In Time: Days 1 & 2 & 3 at 2:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Smallwood State Park, 2750 Sweden Point Road, Marbury, Md., 20658

Complete details

Tags: jody-white  morning-story  2016-06-16-potomac-river 

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