Beat the heat: wade in and get bassin'

OUTDOORS

July 11, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Frankly, the heat, humidity and boredom had gotten to me last Friday evening when I decided to escape to the Potomac River on Saturday for some wet wading bass fishing.

That's how I enjoyed the best fishing experience of the year.

I spent the entire day catching and releasing Potomac bass, first in the Brunswick area and, late in the afternoon, upriver between Sandy Hook and Dam No. 3.

The Potomac winds its way some 184 miles along Maryland's southern boundary and is popularly regarded as one of the nation's best smallmouth bass rivers. From time to time it will offer up a 10-pounder, but 2- to 4-pounders are more common.

At this time of the year it is not unusual to hook 100 smallmouths, but less than 20 percent will be keepers. This is all well and good because there isn't a 12-inch bass alive that doesn't think it weighs 12 pounds and will fight you to prove it.

There are four popular ways to fish the mid and upper stretches of the Potomac. One way is to hike in and bank fish along the C&O Canal Towpath.

If you have a small johnboat or canoe, the second method is to lazily float the river. Or, you can put about a 10-horsepower motor on a 12- to 14-foot boat and fish it in a conventional manner, paying close attention to rocks that eat unguarded propellers at an alarming rate. These last two require a couple of vehicles -- one down river, the other to carry you to the launching point.

Then, there's wet wading. The Potomac is full of shallow sections that are made for wading. Below most of the dams the bottom willtend to be grassy while main portions of the river will feature rock or gravel bottom. Beware! This can be a most dangerous place and never set foot in the Potomac without a life vest buckled on. I also strongly urge the use of a wading staff, too.

Mostly, I fish the river from Senca to Hancock. Last Saturday I began at Brunswick. There's good wading areas between the Lander boat ramp and the Route 17 Bridge at Brunswick. All you need is an old pair of shorts or cut-offs, a T-shirt to protect you from sunburn and an old pair of sneakers along with a life vest, a small box of lures and a light-action spinning rod or flyrod rig.

I fished a light-action graphite spinning rig teamed with 6-pound test mono and constantly had fish.

At first light I had exceptional luck with a black 2-inch Torpedo fished just fast enough on the surface to make the propeller blades turn. I'd cast against a rocky outcrop, along the bank or near a fallen tree, give the reel handle a couple of twists and then set the hook.

About mid-morning I switched to a smoke-colored twister tail on a 1/2 -ounce jig.

Area fishing update

Spot and croaker are turning up in increasing numbers at the mouth of the Choptank and in Eastern Bay. Hot baits are crab for croaker and bloodworms for the spot.

A few huge black drum still are hanging around Poplar and Sharps islands in 20 feet of water. Nice schools of 2- to 4-pound blues are hitting surgical hose from the Bay Bridges to Taylors Island and, in the upper Bay area, around Love Point.

White perching is good around the mouth of the Magothy and the Bay Bridges pilings. Best bet in the Bay though is the lower Bay, where croaker, spot, weakfish and flounder are going crazy.

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