Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Potomac Monsters

I'm not a big fan of meetings, especially when they don't really impart any information that couldn't have been distributed via email or newsletter. Trainings that drag on for hours because they are catering to the lowest denominator also kill me, especially for computer based things. Just give me free rein, and I'll figure the thing out myself. I'll ask a question if I need more.

So, after a second "fun-filled" day of meetings and training for my summer resource teacher work, I was a bit stir crazy. I'd grabbed two of my rods and my fishing bag on the way out this morning on a whim, and so when I left Gaithersburg High School, I plugged Monocacy Aqueduct into Waze instead of going straight home into rush hour traffic on I-95.

The Mouth of the Monocacy
I knew Pat had fished here recently, and I was pretty sure that I remembered him catching some decent fish. I'd chosen it because it was far enough up, I knew I wasn't in danger of being in tidal waters (which needs a special license), but it was still within a reasonable distance from home for a weeknight where I had to go to work the next day.

While setting up my two rods, I saw a young man and woman leaving from an area just 75-100 feet away from me, and I asked, "Catch anything?" He shook his head. He'd been fishing for bass, but thought he wasn't able to cast his bait far enough to entice them. Looking at what I was about to throw into, I opted for a Ned Rig (TRD Finesse Worm) on my old school Bass Pro Shops Megacast rod, and a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper swimbait on my Abu Garcia rod.

As I was prepping the rods, I saw an eagle majestically swoop down and pluck a fish from the water right in front of me. I knew there were fish to be had.

I cast for about 20 minutes at the confluence of the Monocacy and Potomac Rivers, with nothing. There were a few bumps on the worm, but the swimbait was getting no love. A big old water-striding spider nearby started threatening me (for real), so I opted to move a bit downstream on the Potomac, to an area with some weedbeds and a little shade from the shoreline trees.

There were actually two of them here at one point. Frighteningly, I don't know where the other one went!
I tried the worm again, and promptly got it caught on a log that I could clearly see. I'd lost the swimbait off the other rod earlier and had already tied a Whopper Plopper on it, so I figured, "What the heck?" There were tons of little bugs on the water, to the point that it almost looked like rain drops on the surface, and the smaller birds were having a field day grabbing at them. So, I thought maybe a topwater lure would be a good choice, even though both Pat and I have been skunked when using them for quite a while now.

I tossed to an area just over to my left, which seemed to be kind of weedy and reeled in. Nothing. A second cast, and it was like a slow motion video as the smallmouth came up and grabbed the lure. I was like, "Oh my god, did that just happen?" I set the hook and reeled frantically; the fish tried to jump a few times, but got nowhere as I was keeping the rod tip down. All I could think of was the last time I'd had a smallmouth on a Whopper Plopper, only to lose it just before landing it.

This time, I managed to keep the fish on the hook as I brought it to shore, and it was a pretty good sized Potomac smallmouth.
A good fight, my man!
Just over 14 inches!
I was pretty psyched. While I had the one fish hooked on the Susquehanna, I'd never actually caught a fish with a topwater lure, and definitely not a 14 inch fish on the Potomac! I cast several more times in the same vicinity, but nothing.

Switching to a blue craw TRD Finesse worm (since the coloration was similar to the Whopper Plopper I used), I was able to get some interest from.... something, but no bites. I tried a swimbait again, and promptly got it stuck, again. So, it was after six, and I was thinking, Maybe I should go home.

So, I tied on my other Whopper Plopper, and committed to "10 more casts." The first toss.... nothing. The second cast.... was like a replay of the previous catch. The fish rose up and grabbed the lure as soon as it hit the water, and the game was on. I set the hook, and this one fought big time, but never rose to the surface, so I wasn't sure if it was a little feisty guy, or a monster until it was about four feet from me.

It was more on the monster side!

Using my Megacast rod as a guide, the second fish was just a tick over fifteen inches, easily my largest smallmouth on the Potomac.

I tossed the Whopper Plopper a few more times, just for the heck of it, then packed up to head home. I was satisfied with the two I'd caught, and how I caught them.

But... I have more meetings and training tomorrow. So, maybe I'll hit up the Potomac again? I guess it depends on just how hot and miserable it ends up being. The forecast is pretty awful.
The aqueduct is pretty awesome.

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