Trip Report - Upper Potomac

I got out on the Potomac River in Maryland last Saturday. It’s a portion called the Upper Potomac, and is between the fall line and the confluence with the Shenandoah. (Relax, that’s a twenty-some mile section, I’m not giving away anyone’s secret spot) Surprisingly, even though the lot was full, we owned the river by ourselves for about two and a half hours. Nice.

The water was low. We had had two days of relatively steady rain, but the ground sucked up most of it. There was a rise, but only a slight one - an inch every couple of hours. This river usually fishes well on a rise, but this time there was no staining from it. I fished a section that usually has a strong current, but with the low water wasn’t as strong as usual. That was an understatement.

With the rain blowing out, we had some wind gusts but not strong, and bluebird skies. There was a significant rise in barometric pressure. The air temperature had dropped twenty degrees from the day previous. I would guess the water temperature around 68 degrees, but have no information on how it had changed from preceding days.

The water was gin clear. I could see a Kalin’s Smoky Shad grub (which is mostly clear plastic) from forty feet away. The clarity actually gave cause to a near incident. My fishing buddy brought his trolling motor for me to try on my rowing Scanoe. We put in, but the battery was dead. It gave it’s last oomph when we tested it on-shore. So, we’re in the water, I’m in the rear seat rather than the rowing station, and we’ve got a lot of extra weight with the motor and the battery. I didn’t feel like rowing that weight around and we were right by the ramp still. So I looked over the side, saw that it wasn’t terribly deep in that I could see bottom clearly and it looked like it was “right there”. (Bear in mind this river usually has no more than 3’ or 4’ murky visibility). So, I stepped over the side to pull the boat back by the painter. The water was chest deep, and that first step was a LOT longer than I expected. Good thing I was wearing my PFD. I swam a little, and THEN pulled the boat by the painter back to the ramp. VERY clear water.

We rowed upstream about 3/4 mile past a couple small ledges. I enjoy rowing, so I invited my fishing partner to fish while I rowed us up. He had a few nibbles, but saw fish EVERYWHERE. We saw an enormous walleye in shallow water at mid-day. I think it was lost. It surely doesn’t read In-Fisherman or it would know that it was supposed to be in shaded deep water under cover right about then.

With the sudden temperature drop, I figured the fish would be relating to fall transition areas. I know this area of river relatively well and had a couple locations in mind. We went to them but did not find fish. So we went to my next best guess, which was current seams with deep water nearby. That was the main pattern this summer. We found a few fish, but they weren’t as aggressive as a couple weeks ago. Not by a long shot. The front had them shut down I guess.

So we did the mid-summer lazy-man’s float down in the shade and bang the bank with grubs while talking man-talk thing. We found the fish. I was using a Case Jack’s Worm rather than a grub body, but fishing it exactly like a grub on a 1/8 oz ballhead jig. Had a good smallie- a fat 15". My buddy still struck out, but was getting a lot of bumps. He was fishing a spinner-bait. That may have been a bit too busy for these cautious fish. He did get some panfish to the boat, but they were just hanging onto the skirt. Daggone teenage boy bluegills- chasing skirts like that.

In all, not much action, but some good rowing and some excellent visit time with one of my longest term fishing buds. Actually, I think he is actually THE longest term fishing bud. We had a good time reminiscing about all the mistakes we’ve made. I think we’ve made most of them possible over time. We were laughing so much that our casts suffered. It’s hard to concentrate on good casts when you’re laughing so hard that your stomach hurts (that couldn’t have been from the rowing).

  • Big D

Sounds like a fun time. Good to hear
the canoe is doing OK as a rowing boat.