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Outdoors

Cast a line the Potomac's way

Cast a line the Potomac's way

July 09, 2006|by BILL ANDERSON

If you happen to be near the Potomac River this weekend - particularly the area above Williamsport - you might be surprised to see how quickly the river has cleared after all of the rains of the past few weeks. Some of the major tributaries continue to be muddy, but the mainstem of the river is actually in good shape.

Overall, the fishing is good. Over the past week, we have had good luck using typical smallmouth lures - tube lures and grubs during the day and small surface lures in the late evening.

The river seems to be settling back into its typical midsummer pattern, and the fishing will probably remain pretty stable now for the rest of the summer.

This is normally the period when live bait becomes the most consistent method of taking the bigger fish. The bass are concentrating on certain food sources that include hellgrammites, crayfish and minnows. If you use one of the preferred baits, you can expect plenty of action.

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Big chubs and madtom catfish (also known as stonecats) are heavy enough to cast, and you will not need any additional weight to cast them with the slip bobber. The chubs and madtoms will fight the bobber as they drift in the current, and the bigger smallmouths will take them with aggressive strikes. That is the best method I know of for taking a really large (more than 4 pounds) river smallmouth.

If you are not into live-bait fishing, you can still catch lots of bass. Two friends floated from Dam No. 5 to Williamsport on Friday morning and reported catching approximately 30 smallmouths up to 14 inches, and a dozen or so sunfish using plastic grubs and small surface lures. That is a nice way to spend a summer morning.

This is also a great time for fly fisherman. I have been doing well the past few times out using white crystal buggers and small poppers. The fish have been mostly small, but a lot of fun when using a 5-weight outfit.

The results of the recent high water were short-lived, and you can find some excellent fishing on the Potomac using any fishing methods you might prefer - live bait, artificial lures or fly tackle.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached by e-mail at bandersn@mindspring.com

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