Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing | Areas, Baits, and Tactics

One of my favorite places to fish is the Potomac River. Now, I have spent a good amount of time on the river, so I’d be remiss to say there isn’t a learning curve. In this article I am going to talk about three areas that are good fishing year-round but are, in my opinion, their best in the spring. These Potomac River pre-spawn bass fishing areas have both Milfoil and Hydrilla, the type of grass does not matter as far as which one is better to fish, in my opinion, if you are fishing grass you are doing the right thing.

Outside of the grass, you have to always keep track of the tide. The bass will be closer to shore as the tide is making its way in and the water is getting higher. On an outgoing tide they will do the opposite, they will move away from the shore. The bass become more spread out on a high tide thus making it more difficult to find them, in theory.

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing | Broad Creek

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing(1)

The picture above is from the ANGLR web application using the map view on my profile page. The pins with the three dots (Honey Hole) outlines the grass flat, the pins that have the ANGLR logo are where I have caught fish. I believe the best area to fish in the spring is the mouth of Broad Creek because the bass will be coming into these grass flats to spawn.

In the spring I will use a gold Rat-L-Trap, Chatterbait, Spinnerbait, Swim Jig, Texas Rigged Culprit Ribbon Tail Worm, a River Rock Custom Baits 4” and 5 ¼” stick bait.

For the Rat-L-Trap, keep the bait at the top of the grass. Allow the hooks to touch the top of the grass and rip the bait upward, this usually will entice a bass to bite, I like a little ripple or subtle chop on the water to use this bait.

For the chatterbait, I use the same presentation or sometimes I will let it get a little deeper into the grass and give subtle pops to get it through the grass, also with this bait I like a ripple to some chop on the water.

When I use a spinnerbait, I like a decent chop on the water. I will keep the blades just above the grass, so the skirt and trailer are ticking the tops of the grass. I will also use small pops of the rod to get the spinnerbait out of grass as well as give it a little more action.

On calm days I will use a Swim Jig, and Texas Rigged Culprit Ribbon tail worm.

If you’d rather throw a swim jig, start off by swimming it along the top of the grass and work it up and down in the water column to figure out what depth the bass want the lure at. When using the Texas Rig, use as light of weight as possible, let it fall to the bottom (while the bait is falling pay close attention to your line as a bass will often bite on the fall) and pull it through the grass, if you get hung up, give the rod a pop to get it unhung, this will also trigger a reaction bite at times.  

The last bait to use is one I will use a lot, and a River Rock Custom Baits 4” and 5 ¼” Stick bait in a DC Custom or Green Pumpkin Chartreuse Pepper color. I use this bait mostly as a wacky rig but sometimes have it weightless as a Texas Rig. For presentation, let it drop to the bottom and give it some good pops upward then let it fall. When using a wacky rig or Texas rigged stick bait, be sure to watch your line at all times, you may not feel the bass bite, but watch your line for a twitch or it starts moving.

A tool I use religiously is The Hook Pal when I am using soft plastics. It’s a little tool that allows you to place a small plastic disc above the soft plastic lure to prevent it from sliding down the hook, I highly recommend getting one if you’re going to fish the Potomac River or any other fishery that has a lot of grass. This tool also works great if you use a trailer hook on your spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or even frogs.

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing | Belmont Bay

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing(2)

Belmont Bay is a great place to fish as it is at the mouth of Occoquan Creek and just off the main river. There is a large grass flat here which I have marked with the Honeyhole waypoint, there are also catch icons, and the pink pins mark an island. This area is one of my favorite places to go especially if the fishing is tough because I have a ton of confidence fishing this area, and it doesn’t hurt that there are some good bass in there too.

The baits I use here are Chatterbaits, Swim Jigs and a River Rock Custom Baits Stick worm.

There are some areas here that are much better than others, but I believe they change year to year, I suggest expanding out from this marked area if you’re not having any success.

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing | Chickamuxen Creek

Potomac River Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing(3)

Chickamuxen Creek is another favorite area of mine and has some nice bass in it as well. I went out bow fishing for Snakehead one evening with my Step-Brother and a friend, I could not believe the size of the bass I saw in this creek. I have caught some good-sized bass in this creek with the biggest being around 4 pounds maybe 4 ½ lbs. This creek has three grass flats that are separated by channels where the grass does not grow to separate them.

I like to use the Swim Jig on calm days and Spinnerbait on choppier days to parallel the grass edges.

A River Rock Custom Baits Stick bait works well when you have already gone through the area with reaction baits. I will then fish the grass like I would in Broad Creek. There is also a funnel to the smaller part of the creek in the back where I believe some resident bass will come out in the deeper portion of the creek to spawn.

If you end up hitting the Potomac river this spring, be sure to check out these areas and let me know how you do! Good luck and tight lines!

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Kevin Cole


I have been tournament bass fishing since 2011 as a Co-Angler. Competing as a Co-Angler I have learned a lot of techniques and how to adapt to conditions outside of my control. I currently am on Pro/Field Staff for Liquid Mayhem, The Hook Pal, Cal Coast Fishing, Sublimewear USA, ALX rods, and WOO! Tungsten.

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