Gone Fishin' - Oct. 24, 1994

October 24, 1994                                 By Charlie Taylor

The striped bass season on the Potomac River closed on Sunday. This means that an angler must release all striped bass caught. This notice did not make any difference to John Cunningham and myself, however, as we had not intended to keep any of the hard-fighting fish. We were interested in pursuing the fish in order to pit our skills against their fighting abilities.

In researching the recent catches of stripers, we determined that our best bet would probably be the Route 301 Bridge area. Accordingly, we decided to put the boat in the water at Aqualand Marina, located in the shadow of the bridge, on the Maryland shore. We arrived before dawn and launched the boat in a soft drizzle. A local angler, who had agreed to assist us in finding and catching fish, met us at the ramp and launched his boat. He headed for the marina snack bar for some breakfast, saying he would meet us at the pilings.

As we motored across the channel to the pilings on the Virginia side, the showers called for by the weatherman, turned to rain. This did not dampen our spirits, however, as stripers like inclement weather, and we were prepared with rainsuits, etc.

We tied on Sassy Shad on 1/2 ounce jigheads and cast these uptide of the pilings, allowing them to sink and wash with the tide. The tide was not running hard and the baits were sinking to the bottom. So we cast the baits, allowed them to sink and retrieved them slowly across the bottom, alongside the pilings. Although this worked a little better, it failed to produce fish.

While John continued to use the Sassy Shad, I switched to a Rat-L-Trap, casting it alongside the piling, allowing it to sink and yo-yoing it back to the boat. Failing to catch fish on this, I switched to a Rebel Fastrak Minnow, casting and retrieving this bait in a more spirited manner. Once again, no fish.

As the tide was now slack and no fish were to be found on the meter, we headed to the outflow from the Morgantown Power Plant. Searching this area for some time, we observed no baitfish or stripers on the meter and no surface activity. I had heard that the activity was slow at the Power Plant, so this did not surprise me.

Since the tide was still slack and the rain was continuing, we decided to catch up with my friend and have a hot cup of coffee. When we arrived at the Marina, we found that he had left.

Noting that there was not a lot of action and running to familiar places was not possible due to dense fog, we decided to head for Mattawoman Creek to do some bass fishing.

We put the boat in the water at Slavin's Ramp in the back of Mattawoman Creek, where the dock was underwater, and proceeded to fish the bank downstream of the ramp. Within 10 minutes, the "showers" became a torrential downpour that dumped over two inches of rain in the next two hours. With two bilge pumps operating continuously, the floor of the boat was still covered with two inches of water.

It did pass, however, the sun came out, the tide receded and we began catch fish. Although most reports had crankbaits accounting for most of the fish caught, we found that crankbaits produced no strikes. Plastic worms, however, attracted good numbers of fish. The most productive color was electric blue, although pumpkinseed and tequila sunrise also took fish.

With the abnormally high tides, the lily pads were flooded, even at dead low tide, and the fish remained in the pad fields. We therefore concentrated our efforts on submerged cover, such as downed trees, rocks and wood pilings, and were rewarded at each place. The key was to use the lightest sinker that would get the bait to the bottom. This would allow the tide to sweep the bait across the bottom naturally. Cast uptide of the cover and allow the tide to take the bait under and into the cover. The fish should do the rest.

Although we started the day like drowned rats, we did manage to last until the weather turned a balmy 70 degrees.

Just another page in the fishing diary.

Good fishin'.....