St. Patrick’s Day Guided Fishing

Dan and I took off from our respective places of employment Friday, March 17, 2017, St. Patrick’s Day, to take a guided fishing trip on the Potomac River.  Our guide for the day was Bryan Schmitt (https://www.flwfishing.com/anglers/bryan-schmitt-180081), the hometown favorite Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) professional fisherman from Deale, Maryland.  Bryan has 33 Top-Ten wins and 9 Tournament wins in his young career and is also a charter captain of the Loosen-Up, Chesapeake Bay striped bass fishing.  Little did we know that we were in for a fantastic, end of winter day on the water.

Temperatures at the Marshall Hall Boat ramp were 34-degrees at game time, and then with an afternoon high of 54-degrees, with remnant snow on the banks of the Potomac.  Water temperatures were from the high 30’s and low 40’s.

It was not long before we were on fish.  Dan takes first strike.

I followed shortly thereafter.

Osprey are back.  We saw dozens of osprey paired-up and claiming nesting boxes, nest building and fishing with success.

Through the course of the day, we put eight largemouth bass in the live-well, all three-pounds and larger, then also with a few throwbacks.

It was all-hands-on-deck for this incoming lunker . . .

. . . which turned out to be an aggressive fighting carp that we thought may have been a catfish or possibly snakehead, prior to first seeing it in the water.

We launched from Marshall Hall, more or less opposite Douge Creek (south, down river of Mount Vernon), and ventured to Gunston Cove and a little up toward Pohick Bay, the shoreline area of the Potomac at a former wharf for Fort Belvoir, mouth of the Piscataway near Fort Washington, Belle Haven marina slot-way, Spoils, Oxon Cove, near the DC warm water discharge at Blue Plains (Marbury Point), and down to the newly forming SAV beds at the mouth of the Pomonkey.

Nice ride Bryan!  Bryan’s latest boat is the 2017 Ranger with all-Garmin instrumentation with Panoptix, all-seeing forward and down vision (one of his several sponsors).  The live-well had a built-in diffuse oxygenator and air intakes to ensure the health of the fish.

Lunkerville!  Our primary baits were blue-colored plastic worms on black shakey head hooks, with 8-pound braid line tipped with P-Line fluorocarbon.  We also used rattle-traps and chatterbait.

We saw mallards, kingfisher, bald eagle, osprey, blue heron, Canada geese, buffleheads, killdeer, crow, teal, redwing blackbirds, gulls and others.

Sweet.  Dan and I both had a few hard strikes, swings and misses, one of which for me broke water and threw the hook.  It was a big fish.  The boat went quiet for a few moments in memorium.  I also had one cast with a bite that sheared-off the lure within the two-foot fluorocarbon leader.

Bryan got in on the action with a few caught fish.  Bryan was quite gracious just feeling out fish, without setting the hook or a late hook set, blaming it on being rusty and more used to using baitcasters rather than spinning reels.  In reality he was making sure to be a great host, and ground-truthing that he had us on fish.

We had one fish with mud on her belly, and then this one that looked like she came from cold, deep water.  We were targeting bass that were staging in deep water with structure, usually in the form of aggressive drop-off’s near shallow shore, and near the mouth’s of spawning creeks.

This never gets old!

Some of our bass were rich with color, and a few had black mottles.

At the end of our afternoon, I caught a bass with a streamer tag over the back of the fins.

Scratching off the algae, it revealed the tag number 0368 Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) 540-899-4169.  When I got home that evening, I found a web link to download the information that I gathered, and in return will be sent a fishing towel and hat for having participated in the research program.

Some of Bryan’s favorite Potomac fishing creeks include Aquia, Piscataway, Occoquan and Belmont Bay, and some great crappie holes near the Aquia Bridge.

What a great day on the water!  I’m almost ready to take my winterized boat out of storage and look forward to April on the water, with spring beginning next week.

Thank you Dan for organizing this wonderful day trip, and thank you Bryan for being our guide and providing insight and sharing, so that we may become better fishermen and stewards of the sport.  Catch and release!

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