Last week's report talked of snow followed by warming trends which in turn were followed by yet again - more snow. Well, the weather continues to play games with our emotions as all the good accomplished by Friday and Saturday's warming trend was subsequently erased by Monday's most recent snow fall. The Groundhog's latest folly will drop water temperatures back into the low 40s and delay the shad run by another week or two. However, all is not lost.
While early spring patterns were starting to emerge (i.e. streamer and baitfish patterns), fish can still be caught in their normal winter stomping grounds. Four Mile Run, which has recently undergone some shoreline renovations is still your best bet at finding a bent rod this time of year. Clousers, small woolybuggers, and and small baitfish imitations produced the most action.
Last Saturday, fellow FlyTimer Kenny Hodge and I took advantage of the good weather (high of 54, sunny) and hysteria surrounding the shad run and hit the water early (low tide at 6AM, on water by 6:45) and found the water all to ourselves.
We fished the early stages of the falling tide finding no takers at the discharge before pounding the rip-rap and banks downstream. As the tide dropped, warm water is forced down the channel, corralling most rational minded game fish into its warm flow. Thanks to the Arlington Parks Service, the overhanging trees on the bank have been trimmed, leaving some incredible cover. This combination of cover and warm water makes finding fish here somewhat easy. However, the difficult task is getting larger targets to bite.
We found success on size 10 woollybuggers in white and tan, as Kenny proceeded to catch his first ever Panfish Slam (crappie, blue gill, red breasted sunfish, and pumpkin seed sunfish), a nice channel cat, and moved some truly impressive pre=spawn largemouth bass. They had zero interest in any fly we threw their way.
Since Four Mile Run is a heavily pressured fishery, these fish aren't very dumb. Long casts and unique looks with flies are a must for bigger fish. My tip would be to try and angle your casts parallel with the bank since the over hanging trees are now gone. If you need a stylistic reference - think jerk bait fishing for largemouth.
Hope springs eternal.
The snow a few weeks ago coupled with a warming trend, more snow, and another warming trend have made conditions a tad difficult on the Potomac. Snow melt has raised water levels slightly while dropping temperatures back into the low to mid 40s.
As we know by now, cold, muddy water doesn't make things easier. But don't fish with dynamite just yet. With river temps remaining in the low to mid 40s, individuals looking for the first action of the spring should continue to hit spots like Four Mile Run and Blue Plains until water temps start getting near the 50s. Once the water hits that magical number, expect action to really pick up. Until then, winter patterns are the go-to.
Give it two weeks and you won't know what to do with yourself - there are that many options between the spring shad run, stripers, snakeheads, pre-spawn largemouth and smallmouth, mulberries for carp, and the year's best trout fishing. It's a good time to be a fly fisherman. Just keep the faith.
Remick Smothers is a native son of the District of Columbia and the founder of FlyTimesDC.