The fifth stop of the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers is on the Potomac River. Flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac has seen a lot of actual history and a lot of bass fishing action over the years. Known for expansive grass beds and plentiful largemouths, the quality of fishing can vary a lot with the year and the conditions, but it’s always an interesting tournament fishery.
June 17-20, 2021
Hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners
The Potomac isn’t exactly a mysterious tournament fishery, as countless big tournaments have gone down on the tidal river shared between Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Running roughly north to south into the Chesapeake Bay, it’s a tidal river that usually fluctuates a couple feet per day.
The fishing is almost always shallow, either in the grass and pads or around hard cover like rock and wood. Though there are some sections of the main river that really play, the bulk of the damage tends to be done in the creeks (or the mouths of them), with some hot creek arms attracting a ton of fishing pressure.
The last time the top pros hit the Potomac was in the 2017 FLW Tour event. After Bryan Schmitt won the previous event on a swim jig on the Mississippi River, Tom Monsoor returned the favor on the Potomac to earn his first major win.
Since 2017, there have been a pile of Toyota Series events and other lower-level events on the Potomac. Held from June into the early fall, they’ve varied a lot in fishing quality and tactics. We’ve seen flipping and vibrating jigs be dominant players, hard cover in Washington, D.C., proper win and big bags come from a mile up a skinny creek.
With the event set for June, the fishing should be pretty decent. Later in the summer, come August and September, the Potomac is often pretty tough, but there will be plenty of feeding postspawn fish ready to rock this time around.
The main thing to expect is a shallow tournament. Even if it is won on a drop-shot, the winner is almost sure to be fishing less than 6-feet deep, and very likely wrangling fish around grass. Back in 2017, Casey Scanlon walloped almost 20 pounds on a drop-shot in the grass of Chicamuxen, and it’s far from the only time finesse has really played on the tidal fishery.
The Potomac is defined by the shallow bite, so you can expect to see everything under the sun that works shallow work this week. Historically, swim jigs, frogs and the like get a lot of play in the grass. With less grass, crankbaits and topwaters may see more action than usual. Soft plastics always do well, and you particularly can’t deny finesse – many a Potomac derby has been won on a Senko or a drop-shot.
There are a few things to watch for on the Potomac in any given event, but some stand out as the most fun. One of the broader things to look at is where the fish are caught, and from what kind of cover. If the fishing is tough, hard cover plays a lot and the fishing is often best up the river. If the fishing is good, you can expect a good chunk of anglers to slug it out in the grass within a few miles of takeoff.
A couple of extra-fun techniques could be in play as well. One fun path to a possible victory is fishing way up the creeks. In 2019, JT Russell of the University of Montevallo almost won the College Fishing National Championship fishing way up Pomonkey Creek (yes, the place names around the Potomac are fantastic), flipping and slinging a vibrating jig in cuts in the marsh that were narrower than his boat.
The other super fun possibility is a good topwater bite. Some frogs always factor on the Potomac, which is fun in and of itself, but Chad Warren finished second in 2017 on a popper and there’s a very real chance that a topwater hard bait factors into the final day in a big way.