Jump to content

Potomac River Helpful Tips

Recommended Posts

The Potomac River is still chilly with temperatures stable in the lower to mid 40’s. However, this doesn’t take in to account the multiple water discharges where water temperatures this time of year rarely fall below the ’50s. Those of you familiar with the Potomac know that it doesn’t take much of a warm front in early spring to really start heating things up all over the river. The Potomac is a beast and it can test your mental toughness more than any other fishery I'm familiar with. However, it is also my favorite fishery, toe-to-toe with Lake Marion in S.C., because it offers some of the most intense brief periods of action I’ve ever experienced. This being said after 10 years of heavy bass fishing (I’m only 22). 


    I used to hate the Potomac with a passion. I fished Junior State Qualifiers out of Aquia creek from when I first started tournament fishing. I stunk it up just about every time. I tried to fish the river my way, instead of listening to the river and ultimately the fish that call the Potomac home. 

    So, this is where I’d like to give my first pointer to anybody trying to figure the Potomac out for the first time. You have to understand the TIDE. As with any tidal fishery, the fish relate to the tides more than almost anything in the river. Of course, bait, vegetation, and structure all have a weighted say in the position of fish, but on the Potomac, there is no shortage of forage in just about every creek, pocket, ditch, marina…etc. 


A few general pointers for Potomac tide IMO


1. The best tide is outgoing tide for just about every creek. 

2. Feeding windows are tight and determined by the tide

3. Read tidal charts, understand when your best opportunities are

4. Don’t get discouraged. If Bob says they’re biting one creek up, your creek is probably about to start popping off once the tidal conditions become simultaneous with the creek Bob’s in. 

5. Expect lull’s especially during slack tide        

6. Use Low tide to your advantage to spot areas that you couldn’t see during high tide

7. Also use the low tide to pick apart obvious cover methodically, as fish will often hold tighter to cover in low tide. 

8. High Tide can be tricky. But I almost always just cover as much water as possible during high tide    


    Tides can be funny, and these are in no way full-proof pointers, instead, they are guidelines I use every time I fish the Potomac. Tides can be fun, just as much as they suck. A buddy and I one time caught close to 60 fish in two, one hour periods, during a tournament in June 2017 because we used the tides to our advantage. When it's on its on.   


    The next big one is Grass. Love it or hate it, the Potomac has grass everywhere, some areas are just grassy(er) than others. I won't get too scientific, instead, just go over some baits and approaches to fishing the grassy spots of the Potomac. 


1. Lipless/ Rat-L-Trap - One of their best Potomac pre-spawn baits. Any color will work as long as it RED. Just rip it through the grass. (IMO) 

2. Chatter Bait - Better on grass edges and early grass that isn’t very dense yet

3.Swim Jig

4. Weightless Fluke

5. Any type of weedless swim-bait can produce well (what our 60 fish were caught on) 

6. Some type of craw to pitch through pockets of grass. 

7. TopWater! I'm a frog addict and they’ll hit topwater in the back of creeks when the waters in the 50’s on the Potomac. 



  Sometimes, as much as you think you know the Potomac you just don’t. Eventually, you’ll have one these days on the river. You’ve tried just about everything and followed the tidal charts. You got yourself in a good position to take advantage of feeding river fish, yet it doesn’t pan out. That’s when I run like crazy around the river… just kidding…not really. JUNK-FISHING! Honestly, sometimes you gotta just go junk fish. Sometimes you have to run around and fish the rocks at Leeslyvania state park. (sorry if I gave away anybody's favorite spot). But in all seriousness, the Potomac is littered with various man-made structures and marinas that you can junk fish your way to a limit. My biggest bass out of the Potomac was an 8lber caught junk fishing in early April North of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. We junk fished our way into my most unforgettable day of fishing because what we thought we knew didn’t pan out. 


1. Marinas are everywhere on the Potomac and they hold plenty of fish. Lots of Snakeheads as well, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

2. The areas around the Woodrow Wilson have a high concentration of man-made structures. 

3. Some of these areas are community holes, but even the unsuspecting areas in the section of river hold beast. 

4. Bridges. There are tons of bridges and you can use outgoing and incoming tides to your advantage with bridges by positioning your boat the right way. 

5. Docks. There isn’t a ton but there are stretches of docks that produce fish in all conditions.                        



    In addition to all the other pointers, one of the most important tips I can give is to use your mapping charts wisely to navigate safely, find depressions, and abnormalities in your favorite creek. The Potomac can look the same in every creek, so find the abnormalities and ditches the fish use as highways. Also, the Potomac can become inches of water deep just about anywhere at any given time. People get stuck on mud flats and sand bars all the time! Until the tide rises them from stuck, to floating, after a few hours. 


    I hope this helped anybody who is looking to get out on the Potomac or at least made an interesting (or laughable) read for those Potomac lovers like me. This is just some information I wish I had when I first fished the beast of a river the Potomac seems like at first. Whatever you do, don’t let the Potomac discourage or scare you, it is simply just another puzzle in the bass fishing world that is highly rewarding when you figure it out…or think you’ve figured it out. 

Mix it up on the Potomac once you get comfortable, the tried and true lures work, but sometimes, the Potomac can be an awesome big swim bait fishery (hint hint). I hope whoever reads this gets a chance to tear the river up this year. I am currently in my Junior year at VT after transferring this fall, so I'll only be able to get up there a few times during prime-time. I can't complain too much because I’m on the fishing team here and it opened up the door for me to experience plenty of new bodies of water and bodies of water I only sparingly fished beforehand. 


Good Luck, and let me know any Potomac juice you’re willing to share below.  

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/3/2019 at 10:10 PM, ThypeBassin said:

3. Read tidal charts, understand when your best opportunities are

Thanks for the tips! Besides looking for outgoing tides in the creeks, what are the other "best opportunities"?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good write up and timely as the mighty Potomac is about to turn on.  A few additions.....First on Tide, Don't limit yourself to one tide (incoming or outgoing) as long as the water is moving they will feed, sometimes better on incoming, sometimes better on outgoing.  Pick a strategy, either you find a spot and wait for the tide to get right or do what we like to do and "run the tide" meaning find the tide they are feeding on and follow that tide up or down the river.  Finally, remember the upper river fishes much different than the lower and you may have to change up presentations as you move around.  Just for the record, I have never been able to make myself fish the rocks at Leesylvania but I have fished the poop plant!!:lol:

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • fishing forum


    fishing forum

    fishing rods

    fishing poles


    fishing reels

    fishing poles



    bass fish

    fish for bass

  • Create New...