Alex Hrycak, Recreational Angler
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Posted on January 9, 2013 | Permalink
Winter Fishing For Smallmouth
Location: Monocacy and Potomac River
I've been fishing the Potomac River a lot lately for smallmouth bass despite the cold weather, and I'm wondering about other good spots, and species to target. Im usually fishing below the mouth of Monocacy. I also saw the post of the 40 inch Muskie that was caught by Edwards Ferry, Is this usual or just one in a million?
DNR Response: Depending on river conditions, catching smallmouth bass during the winter can be very good or really tough. Smallmouth are generally inactive at river temperatures below 37°F, though some can still be caught with slow presentations. Look for areas that have ledges to break the current or a series of underwater ledges and boulders. Higher water levels will push bass, as well as other species, to shoreline and island eddies. Fish will also take advantage of the warm water discharge at the Dickerson Power Plant. The warm water influence is noticeable for many miles downstream.
Other river species such as walleye and muskie remain fairly active even at very cold temperatures and are popular winter targets. Muskie are frequently referred to as "the fish of 1,000 casts" as it usually takes many hours of effort to catch one. Experienced Potomac River muskie anglers will average one muskie for every 12 hours of fishing. Although muskie are more abundant in the western stretches of the Potomac, they are becoming more common in the stretch between the Monocacy and Seneca.
Walleye are found throughout the upper Potomac with the strongest population occurring from Dam 5 downstream to Point of Rocks. Making upstream movements during the winter and early spring prior to spawning, walleye become concentrated below major barriers and ledges. They can be caught on crankbaits and small jigs. To protect the large females during the spring concentrations, a 20" maximum size was established on the Potomac between January 1 and April 16. The 15" minimum size is in effect year round (check regulations for details).