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Lord Castlereagh

Fishing Potomac River Smallmouth Yesterday

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Tales of the Fish
Volume I

A Surprise Ending
Loudoun County, VA, Goose Creek and the Potomac River

I arrived at the Kephart Bridge landing at 1122am and walked the 50 yards from my truck down to Goose Creek. The plan was to follow Goose Creek downstream for the 20 minute walk to where it meets the Potomac River. I would stop and throw a few casts along the way, and also take the water temperature, which turned out to be the same as at the Izaak Walton League pond in Loudoun: 49 degrees.

I've spent the entire winter fishing that pond for largemouth, and have been very disappointed. I'm a new fisherman, and realize that winter fishing is a pain, but, still, I believe I should have been more successful after 30 or so trips. There was one day in January, however, when I nabbed three largemouth in 90 minutes.

It was a fabulous day for fishing--55 degrees and mostly cloudy, and the waterfowl were very active. I'm going to make a point of identifying those birds in the near future, as I know only a few by name.

I reached the Potomac with no bites, sigh, but my hopes were still high, as I'd heard both on this website and from others that smallmouth begin spawning earlier and at lower temperatures than their larger-mouthed brethren.

Heading downriver, I was on the lookout for a rock ledge that supposedly spanned the river and that held ungodly numbers of fish year round. I'd read of this ledge on another website last July. In my previous visit to the river, I was very surprised that I could not find it. If I again could not find it, I would keep heading downriver to a jumble of rocks that I had fished on my one previous trip. Sure enough, I walked the 100 yards indicated by the other website post and found no rocks. I continued on to the rocks that I had earlier fished. After a 13 minute walk, I got there, and realized with a start that this rock pile was indeed the rock pile referenced on the other website.

I hadn't realized it before for two reasons: the man had said it was 100 yards from Goose Creek. Well, it was not 100 yards, it was a 13 minute walk. Also, he said the ledge went clean across the river. That may be true in a severe drought, but as it was, the ledge extended only about 100 feet into the river. Other than that, it was exactly as described: a massive ledge made up of house and car-sized boulders that extends from the shore, and points at a 35 degree angle back downriver. A blind man could see the possibilities for tons of fish: drop-offs, slack pools, current breaks, and everything else that massive rock ledges give you.

This is where the day began to go downhill. First the water was higher than last time, so I had to remove my boots and wade to get to the rocks. Then the rocks were slippery and treacherous, making me move VERY slowly. Then I began snagging and losing lures at an alarming rate. And the ledge acted as a massive trap for trash moving downriver, this, combined with the increasing cloud cover made for a very gray and very ugly day; I just don't like fishing while surrounded by trash. After a good hour on the rocks, I had perhaps fished for a maximum of 15 minutes. Zero bites. I left in disgust, not even bothering to take the water temperature, presuming, but not caring at this point, that the temperature was the same as the Goose Creek temperature.

I made my way back toward Goose Creek, a very beautiful body of water, by the way. After a few minutes, the clouds broke, and sun came out, and my mood improved greatly. I reached the confluence of the two waters and fished for about half an hour. Zero bites. I then began the 20 minute walk back to the truck, stopping about 10 times to give exactly one cast at accessible spots. Zero bites.

I got all the way back to the last spot, the spot where the trail from the truck meets Goose Creek. It was my last cast. Now I know what you're thinking: last cast? Sure! I myself do it all the time: I tell myself this is the last cast, and then 20 casts later, I finally quit. But this time I'm pretty sure I meant it. After all, I had just done single casts all the way back down the Goose, right?

Just to the left of where the parking lot trail hits the water, there is another rock pile, perhaps 10 feet tall, and jutting out into the water maybe another ten feet, but this ledge, small as it is, creates at least two small slack areas.

I climbed the rocks and, at 328pm, cast my 5 inch, Texas-rigged, white fluke to the slack pool to my right, and bang! She hit it and I brought her in.

Well, that certainly wasn't the last cast now, was it? I hit the pool maybe ten more times before I snagged and lost my lure. Its head had been bitten off by something last summer anyway, so that was fine with me.

The fish, destined for tonight's skillet is 13 inches long and 17.5 ounces in weight. That all happened yesterday and I'm really still on cloud nine. One dinky little fish after four hours of futility… Funny how fishing will do that to you.

Until next time,
Lord Castlereagh

IMG_2348.jpeg

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Nice write-up, LC.  I usually don't have patience for lots of words on forums, but I enjoyed it.  Aside...Spend a little time with Google Earth, please.  Your prose, accompanied by Google Earth made me feel like I was there.

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I stay open to what people tell me but most will be misguiding in my opinion. If they have a honey hole most arent going to spread the word so it doesn't get over fished. How I take it. I will be on the Shenandoah and boaters will be like "there's a 3 lber sitting over there" but they arent stopping for the shot to catch it. Just trying to misguide so they can keep you away from the good spots. Remember not all fellow fisherman want to see you as an successful angler. Anglers can become greedy. 

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1 hour ago, Choporoz said:

Nice write-up, LC.  I usually don't have patience for lots of words on forums, but I enjoyed it.  Aside...Spend a little time with Google Earth, please.  Your prose, accompanied by Google Earth made me feel like I was there.

Thanks for the kind words. Are you suggesting that I append a map? I'm not real tech savvy, but I suppose I could figure that out.

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nah....I was just suggesting that some time spent with Google Map or Google Earth before you left...or even while out there....may have given you some better info about the rocks, bars and ledges than the second hand reports

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15 minutes ago, Choporoz said:

nah....I was just suggesting that some time spent with Google Map or Google Earth before you left...or even while out there....may have given you some better info about the rocks, bars and ledges than the second hand reports

Oh, got you. Sage advice. I will use it next time I am in unfamiliar territory.

 

Thanks

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From your story, I'm guessing the ledge/bar is here:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/39°05'30.3"N+77°28'12.2"W/@39.0917601,-77.4875956,3378m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d39.0917624!4d-77.4700435

View in Satellite mode and you can tell exactly how it tends due north, angling up-river towards the MD side.  What's really cool, is that you can see other rock formations below the surface that might not be visible from shore.

 

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21 hours ago, Choporoz said:

View in Satellite mode and you can tell exactly how it tends due north, angling up-river towards the MD side.  What's really cool, is that you can see other rock formations below the surface that might not be visible from shore.

This is amazing. I really need to get better with this tech stuff.

 

Thank you very much, and yes, this is exactly where I was fishing.

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One thing I do, especially with new water, I watch for google map pictures for when the water is really low. I then print them and keep them in a binder. It really helps a lot to reference these before I go out on the water. 

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I fished the Upper Potomac this weekend, and one of my "hot spot" locations that has rocks running nearly the entire width of the river just below the surface in the summer still wasn't visible.  I thought I missed it but then saw a landmark on the bank I use for reference.  Could be the same thing here.

 

Pat

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