Friday, June 16, 2017

Smallmouth bass grow in trees

potomac smallmouth trees
Smallmouth bass don't grow on trees but they grow in trees

I tried a new spot today -- the confluence of the Monocacy River where it meets the Upper Potomac.  I drive across the Monocacy nearly every time I go to the Upper Potomac and always think about going to this spot.  So today was the day.

Three hours of fishing, and I caught eight fish -- six smallmouth, my first Potomac largemouth bass, and a sunfish.

potomac smallmouth
First smallmouth of the day.
Love the really dark coloring.
This area is much different than where I waded last Sunday.  The water flowed slower, and there weren't as many rock formations.  In fact, the bottom of the river looked really flat.  Lots of small rocks and gravel on the bottom, but nothing really big or solid structure.

After an hour without any fish and ready to call it quits, I waded to a group of downed trees stacked against the bank.  It looked like if a big rainstorm would roll through raising the river, these trees would be swept away.  But with the slow current, they made a nice cover.  Or least I hoped so.

I caught the largemouth -- maybe six inches long, and that's being generous -- about 20 feet upriver from the trees.  Kept wading down and was a perfect distance away to make full casts next to the trees.

Caught a couple dinks with some misses, too.  The fish were only interested in some flavor of the Z-Man TRD Finesse Worm.  I tried a swimbait, spinnerbait, topwater, rubber crawfish -- and the fish didn't bother with any of those.  Just the worm, letting it sit for five seconds, jerking back on the rod, letting the lure sit for five seconds, rinse, repeat.

TRD stands for "The Real Deal" and it certainly lived up to that today.

potomac smallie
Fifteen inches of fury.
And then casting to the back end of the trees, I felt a hard tug on my St. Croix Avid-X medium-light rod.  Pleasedon'tletitbeacatfish.  The fish jumped a foot out of the water, and it clearly wasn't a catfish but a nice smallmouth.  This fish was extra angry and fought hard, pulling drag, rod tip bending toward the water.  This fight I was determined to win unlike The One That Got Away on Sunday where that fish (whatever it was) bulldogged on the rocky bottom and broke the line.  Now I tried to get the upper hand and be a step ahead -- the fish would dive, and I would pull back.  Then the fish would try to break the surface, and I lowered the rod tip in the water to discourage the fish from jumping.

Finally landed it, and it measured right at 15 inches.

After that, I only managed one more dink smallmouth.  Then it started to rain, so that was it for the day.

Well, almost.

Backtrack to earlier in the day.  I parked, suited up and walked from the parking area to the trail that bordered the banks of the Monocacy to the Potomac.  Right when I reached the Monocacy and peered into the water, I thought I saw a smallmouth bass next to a submerged rock.  I tossed a Z-Man worm and hooked a smallmouth that set itself free right at the bank.  It was a little fish, though.

When I was walking back after wading the Potomac, I stopped at the same spot on the Monocacy and saw another fish.  But it was no smallmouth:

monocacy musky
The Monocacy Monster.
A muskie.  Just a little fella, though, maybe 24 inches long.

A couple years ago when Karen and I camped at Fifteen Mile Creek Campground, I saw two muskies on the creek.  In a failed effort to catch one of those beasts, I tried a Zara Spook and worked that thing across the top of the water for 20 casts.  I actually had one of the muskies swim behind for a moment then decide it didn't want to bite on a fake lure.

It was the same situation today with the fish lazily cruising below an aqueduct.  This muskie wouldn't even give me that courtesy of sniffing at a lure.  I tied on a Whopper Plopper, went upriver a bit and scrambled down the bank like an idiot.  I made a fabulous cast through branches and placed the Whopper Plopper several feet behind the muskie and worked the lure back.

Muskie don't care.  When the lure was basically on top the fish, it appeared to give a huge, disintrested sigh and slowly swam away.

They say muskies are the fish of 1,000 casts, so between the toothy fish today and the two fish from a couple years ago, I have 972 cast to go before catching one.

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