Tidal Potomac River

by Steve Chaconas

   May is one of the best months to fish the tidal Potmac River for largemouth bass and snakehead. Here’s what you can expect on your next visit and some news from around the area.

   Fish are in various stages of spawn on the tidal Potomac River. For post-spawners, try bigger suspending jerkbaits on the first cover near flats. Look for post spawn fish on Wilson Bridge pilings, Foxes Ferry, and Hogg Island.  

  The main river grass in Piscataway in Bryan’s Cove is great. There’s almost none for Broad, Swan, and the mouth of Little Hunting Creek, though. DC fishinig provides good action in Four Mile Run, the Pentagon Lagoon, and in Washington Channel, but you must have a DC fishing license and a Coast Guard approved Safe Boating Certificate to navigate DC waters and Virginia.

   At Blue Plains this month throw split shot rigs, Carolina rigs and shallow water drop shots.  Clearer water here requires a faster pace for jerkbaits, like small suspending jerkbaits, to avoid giving fish a good look.  Also use hair jigs in brown/orange, green/ orange, and black/blue with matching plastic chunks and rattles on 10-pound test GAMMA Fluorocarbon. 

  Spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits can locate fish over grass, or when fishing front grass edges or wood. Rip free for reaction strikes on 14-pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon.  Lipless crankbaits are great search baits: craw patterns, gold/stained water, and Shad patterns/fairly clear water.   

  Fish the inside of grass edges as tides come in.  As tides fall, pitch or flip to grass clumps and edges.  Start on up-current side then drag baits along outside edges, then inside edges, finally dropping through tops of leaned over grass.  Fish will “tell” you what’s best.  Texas rig Tubes (Arkansas Craw) and weightless Texas rigged stick worms in green pumpkin are productive. You can also skip tubes under docks. 

  Try swimming plastics and jigs over and through grass or wood cover. MES Lures swim jigs in black/blue, green pumpkin, and hot craw withsoft plastic jerkbait trailer is good. Kill it when you reach clumps at the edge.  

  Soft plastic jerkbaits are deadly this time of year. White is a good choice Watch your line, look for boils. Beef up your line with Gamma Fluorocarbon 16-pound test. Use at least a 7-foot medium heavy graphite rod. Soaking baits in garlic attractant adds scent and allows baits to slide through grass easier.

   In creeks like Swan and Little Hunting, look for wood like docks and laydowns. LHC also has pads.  These creeks are usually stained, so darker jigs and plastics are best.  Fish white skirted 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits around shallow wood and the 3/8 for higher tides over the pads. Bump wood or rip from grass.

   Try buzzbaits, with a dangling trailer hook.  Put 2/0 or 3/0 Mustad Ultra Point Stinger hooks on first, then the piece of tubing to keep it on, allowing the hook to move freely behind the main hook. The 1/4-ounce clacker is more effective at lower tides over grass, around pads, and along wood.  

  Carolina rig flats near drops in Smoots (National Harbor), along South Point, and around grass flats to cover water with lizards, on 3/0 hooks. Use split shot rigs with Water Gremlin bullet shaped splitshots, 3/16-ounce BULLSHOT weights. Drag along the bottom.  Set the hook, sweeping to the side.  Longer med/heavy spinning rods, like 7’ make this easier.

   Pitch shallow water drop shot rigs on 20-pound test GAMMA Torque braid with a 10-12 pound test Edge fluorocarbon leader line with green pumpkin 5-inch Jiggle Stick worms to milfoil clumps.  The BULLSHOT (3/16-1/4 ounce) weight comes in handy as an anchor for this rig.  When water is a bit stained slide the weight closer to baits putting them closer to the bottom and fish.  Start with a leader of about 18 inches and work down to 6 inches. Another presentation that keeps baits in front of fish is the shaky head! The perfect bait to complement any shaky head is a stick worm, on a ¼ ounce head.

   The best topwater bite is in the evening, on cloudy days, with clear water and at lower tides.  Evening water is the warmest, but don’t overlook other times when conditions present themselves. 

  Hollow frogs are great anywhere, excellent over thicker grass but use must use braided line.

   Capt. Mike and Capt. Chris of Apex Predators Guide Service Potomac Creek enjoyed a good run with the snakeheads last month and encourge you to book your trip now for May and June when the fishing is great for the biggest dragons of the year. They recently acquired another center console boat – a Ranger with a 115 hp Yamaha, so they are ready to rock on the river this season.

    Taylor’s Bait & Tackle notes the trout fishing season continues on nearby Locust Shade Park they stock all the trout baits you’d need to succeed as well as a large selection of bass tackle for the nearby tidal Potomac and live minnows for crappie fishing.

  Costello’s in Warrenton is the area YETi, and Big Green Egg dealer in addition to stocking the area’s best slection of bass fishing tackle. Stop in and see and you will be impressed.

  Virginia Arms Co. in Manassas is now making custom gun holsters while you wait. Inside this well-stocked shop you’ll find personal protection pieces, long guns, black guns and ammo.

Related Posts

Woods & Waters Magazine contains monthly features on awesome destinations, new techniques, outdoor personalities, tide charts, our Regional Focus Reports, monthly columns from our staff experts and more. If you want to receive the best hunting and fishing magazine for Virginia, consider subscribing today!

Woods & Waters Magazine is Virginia’s source for hunting and fishing information featuring award-winning articles and photographs by top regional experts intended to inspire you to get out and enjoy life outdoors! Pick up a copy today at over 100 retailers or subscribe here.

Featured Articles

Latest Articles

©2022 Woods & Waters Magazine, LC. All Rights Reserved.