Winning the Capitol Clash on the Potomac River was a thrill for me personally. It put me over the $1 million mark in career BASS winnings and provided a high point for what's been a great year for me.
It also offered a few lessons in tidal river fishing. The Potomac is a great bass fishery, but a lot of really good fishermen struggle there because they don't adapt to the tide's influence.
Here are the patterns I worked on the Potomac:
My first spot was in a creek with a tidal flow. I targeted the channel swings with laydowns. In years past, I was able to narrow the pattern down and focus on certain laydowns at particular depths. But this year, I had to fish every piece in the wood in the creek to scrounge up some bites.
I fished from 6 inches to 6 feet deep in the creek, flipping and pitching a green pumpkin Berkley Power Hawg on a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook and 3/8-ounce tungsten sinker. I rigged it on 25-pound test Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon on a Lamiglas XFT 806 rod and Abu Garcia Revo reel.
When there was some current, the bass seemed to be shallower and would hit the bait as soon as it hit the water. When there was no current, I had to work the Power Hawg deeper and slower through all the cover. Being thorough really paid off.
I also caught a few bass in the creek by working a crankbait — a Lucky Craft BDS 2 in Splatter Back — around the ends of the laydowns. They seemed to hit it best when there was no current. I threw it on a Lamiglas SR 705R cranking rod and Revo spooled with 30-pound-test Spiderwire Ultracast.
My other spot was a classic summertime grass area with matted vegetation. I caught some of my biggest bass there and used the area to help cull some of the fish I caught in the creek.
I love punching a bait through the grass to catch hot weather bass. As popular as the technique is among the pros, there are still relatively few casual anglers who will stick with it long enough to make it work and gain confidence in it.
For my mat fishing, I used a Berkley Sabertail Burly Bug in green pumpkin with a 1-ounce Tru-Tungsten slip sinker and 5/0 BMF hook from Reaction Innovations. I flip and pitch mats with 65-pound-test Spiderwire Ultracast on a Lamiglas SRFT 7108 and Abu Garcia Revo.
It takes a big weight to get the bait through the vegetation to where the bass live and a heavy rod and line to get them out once they bite. You might not get a lot of strikes with this pattern, but the ones you get can make a real difference at weigh-in time.
They certainly did for me.