This was posted last year on BayBass.com, and it's time to roll it out again....I've updated the details, and made some appropriate changes.
Winter has finally set in, and water temps in the MD, DC, VA area are 34-41 depending on where you are. Today 11/29/13 a buddie and I went to the Back River MD Sea Pickle Plant, and caught so many we were sore after the first hour, but they were not the Stripers we were looking for. If "Cabin Fever" is beginning to settle in, and you want to get out, check out the following hot spots, many of which are warm water discharges. If your boating, bring an oar, pick ax, or 10/15 lb anchor or dumbell with 20' of rope to throw infront of the bow so you can break up the ice at the ramp so you can get to the areas you need to be in. I've fished all of the below areas with extreme success (sometimes) in the middle of winter and water temps should be anywhere from 48 to 65 in some of these areas notated as Warm Water Discharges. There is information on these areas all over the web (some more than others), so I'd suggest you use a seach engine for more specific info or else I'd have to write 2 pages per each spot. BEFORE YOU GO, DO YOUR RESEARCH, NOTHING STINKS MORE THAN GETTING TO THE AREA, ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT THE BOAT RAMP IS CLOSED, ICED OVER, OR THERE ARE NEW "NO TRESSPASSING" SIGNS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE FISHING FROM SHORE.
My best winter baits, regardless of where I'm fishing are suspending jerkbaits over deep water, Mann's Stingray grubs on 1/4-3/8oz jigheads, Strike King Bitsy Bug or other similar smaller jigs (dark colors) tipped with twin tail grub trailers, and blade baits or spoons, like the SilverBuddy, Heddon Sonar Flash, or BassPro Lazer Blade in 1/4 or 1/2oz.. I prefer the "Lazer Blade" and Original Silver Buddy. Chrome, gold or colored spoons made by Castmaster in 1/4 and 1/2oz, 3/4oz and 1oz will also produce the deep fish in 25-35' such as the fish on Lake Anna, including stripers. (the 3/4 and 1oz for the deeper bass). On really windy days I'll throw a rattletrap as well as a spinnerbait in 5-15'. Mann's "Little George" will also do some damage, as will the "Fish Head Spin". As for the crappie, a float n' fly or float n' jig is best. Gamakatsu jigheads 1/16 to 1/32oz suspended 3-8' below a foam weighted bobber or similar "long distance casting bobbers" are best, attached via swivel or "slip bobber" style (bait and bobber cast out together as one, then the bobber slides up the line until it hits the bobber stop) This technique is deadly on suspended finicky fish. Use a larger tube jig or grub for larger fish or bass. For moving water, try a heavier 1/8oz jighead. The line I've got 100% faith in especially after some true "battles" this year is P-Line CXX. I use the 6lb on my spinning rods, 4lb on my crappie rods, and 8-10lb on my rattletrap, jerkbait, crankbait, and even spinnerbait rods. 8lb line on a baitcaster sounds crazy, but this is no normal fishing line. Absolutely amazing is all I can say. It does have some memory, and is slightly larger in diameter per pound test, than other manufacturers. I do not recommend the 8,10, or 12 for spinning rods, I'd switch to the PF Original for spinning, unless your using the 6lb cxx which has much less memory. If your using a 3000 size spinning reel, the 8lb cxx will work just fine.
Here's some cool spots to spend your winter.
UOSA plant in centreville VA. Warm water discharge lake. No boats. Buy the pass for fishing there M-F at the visitor building.
Reston Lakes offer some good winter fishing. lake Newport, Anne, Audubon, Lake Thoreau. Dam areas are public and offer deep water. See the November 2014 post here for more info
Dickerson Power Plant- Upper Potomac River MD http://maps.google.com/maps?q=39.193668,-77.473088&num=1&t=h&sll=39.22,-77.424444&sspn=0.01729,0.032015&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=39.193715,-77.473065&spn=0.004008,0.010568&z=17 Really good smallmouth action here. Very limited shore access, much better in a boat.
Conowingo Peach Bottom Power Plant http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-11-07/sports/1993311240_1_largemouth-bass-water-power-plant (old article but good info)
Patuxent River Power Plant (Chalk Point) http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=patuxant+river+power+plant&FORM=IQFRBA&view=detail&id=1A27C03E3322431EC4D2FA40884094ED0196399F
Brandon Shores Power Plant on the Patapsco River MD (East of the Key Bridge) (Lower part of the article) http://www.dnr.state.md.us/naturalresource/winter2002/powerplant.html
Calvert Cliffs Power Plant- Lower Chesapeake Bay http://www.dnr.state.md.us/naturalresource/winter2002/powerplant.html Best action around if you have a boat, and don't mind the drive.
Back River MD Sea Pickle Plant (Upper Chesapeake Bay - my true "home water") - closest launch is Cox Point Park and further down river is Rocky Point Park, open year round. This is the "sewage treatment" plant in Back River, which is why I've named it the "sea pickle plant". If you don't get the joke.....let's just leave it that way. Bring a large net, your going to need it. Not too many Stripers and LM Bass, but so many Carp, Catfish, and Shad, that you'll hit them with your Trolling Motor and Outboard. From November to March, it's close to impossible to get a lure back to the boat here if your in the right area, from the concrete pier (outflow) north east to the first small sand point. This sea pickle plant is located just north east (downriver) of the Back River Bridge, along the rivers southern shore. The water is deep around 10-12' up against the piers end, and due to the holes in the warm water pipe, there are "holes" on the bottom, lining the sides of the concrete pier midway to all the way down. 1/2oz rattletraps and 1/2oz silverbuddies get the job done best. Your best bet of a striper in here may come on a spinnerbait, because it's nearly the only bait you can get back to the boat. The carp in here are mean, and they will demolish your rattletrap (eat it). Today 11/29/13 the water at the Rocky Point ramp was slightly frozen and 34/35 degrees. Water at the sea pickle plant was 52. Every fish left in that river is there at the plant. Fish the surrounding water until you travel outside/below the 42 degree water temp mark.
Saltpeter Creek Warm Water Discharge MD (Upper Chesapeake Bay - my true "home water") http://www.chesapeake-angler.com/storyfeb07-powerplantprowess.htm WARNING- you WERE able to fish this area from shore parking at "the bridge" (the Carroll Island BGE Power Plant) This was and is still property of Aberdeen Proving Grounds. You do not want to tresspass here. Boat access only now from nearby creeks/rivers. Dundee Creek Marina is very close but closes for the winter and re-opens in March. I grew up fishing here during the winter months and the place is loaded with fish every year. Due to the amout of trash and "other" activity that went on here, they shut it down around 2000 I believe it was. The closest ramps are Mariner Point Park on the Gunpowder, and any marina on the "Seneca Creek" like Beacon Light, however the Seneca will often ice over. I'd suggest you call some marinas on the Seneca and make sure they'll let you launch there in the winter months. Some have locked gates. There are several marinas here. If you don't mind a 12-15 minute boat ride doing 40-70mph you can always launch at Wilson Point Park on the Middle River, enter the main bay, hook to the left, wrap around Carroll Island at the mouth of the Seneca, or use the "cut through" ONLY if you have enough water and you know how to run this dangerous short-cut and then enter the Saltpeter (another left turn after the cut through or Carroll Island. Wilson Point Park is very protected and will have thin ice on it sometimes. Bring an oar incase you need to break it up. If for some odd reason your motor does not start, no worries, just put down the trolling motor and fish this creek (Dark Head) This is not the back of Middle River main stem, however the water back in this "lagoon" is some of the deepest water in the entire Middle River. Fish the concrete and rock and creek channel near the broken down dock. (you'll see shore fisherman here every day in the winter, especially in Feb/March).
Four Mile Run Alexandria VA Power Plant (Potomac River)- "Urban combat fishing" to the fullest. Lots of angler traffic and trash (mostly not fishing related though), but the fish DO stack up in here. Lots of Yellow Perch, bass, crappie, huge monster cats, giant carp, and snakehead with an occasional Striper this time of year. You may catch a pair of underware, socks, and other weird items here as well, not kidding. Do NOT drop off your kids here to fish alone, and I'd be really careful fishing here at night. Light tackle is best as the water is SUPER clear at times meaning 3-6' visibility. Blue cats upwards of 60lbs cruise around in here, so if you do decide to bottom fish, use 80lb braid minimum, and alot of it....."river monsters style". Updated: I fished here 1/1/13 with my buddy and we both started the new year with 4 nice bass each, a handful of 15-25lb carp, a few shad, 3 pairs of undeez, (Hanes seemed to be popular) one pair of socks (no feet attached), a wool hat, three trash bags, and "ONE" item I won't even list on this site. I soaked myself with disinfectant and showered immediately after returning home....I also have the CDC on standby. Photo Gallery "VA Waters" #109...more coming. Check/scan through the 10 pages of fishing reports on main baybass.com page at a time and scan for the Four Mile Run reports. It will take you a while to figure the place out, but if you read the reports, you'll save yourself a few years of the learning curve, as I get very detailed and give excellent positioning and angling info. DO NOT FISH FROM THE AIRPORT ROCKS ON THE AIRPORT SIDE....IT'S TRESSPASSING AND THE COPS WILL KICK YOU OUT QUICKLY.
Blue Plains Water Treatment Plant (Potomac just above the WWB) Closest boat ramp on the VA side is Bell Haven. This place on the weekend has boats in it all year long regardless of weather. It receives more pressure in November, December, January, February than in the summertime. Great fishing here all winter, but you will not be the only ones. No shore access. Must have a DC fishing license. (I think you can order on-line) One of the best areas in the MD, DC, VA area if you have boat access.
Lake Fairfax, Reston VA- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpR7NokDKPc This lake ices over VERY easily due to how protected it is from winds. Besides trout fishing, it's not the best winter area and I do not spend much time here. Trout stocking every year, normally in Feb/March. Most are in the 12-16" size range when stocked, and many grow 3-10lbs in here. I'd estimate only 10% are actually caught each year after 500+ fish are stocked here every year for the past 20+ years I've been fishing it. Large bass and tons of crappie are also caught in the winter months. Lots of grass in this lake, and not all of it dies off, so for beginners or trout/pan fishing, bobbers with nightcrawlers or shrimp pieces with a 4-5' leader work best in the winter months. I'll usually use a small tube jig 0.5" with a 1/16oz or 1/32oz jighead covered in smelly jelly for the crappie, and sencos and suspending jerkbaits for the bass. In the summertime, a topwater frog can do some damage at the right time, as well as a swim jig. The creek below the dam is also stocked (at least in past years) and there is one deep hole under the road bridge that holds the majority of them. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/press/pr2012/pr012-12.pdf
Occoquan River VA- This is one of the best rivers to fish on the Potomac during the winter months, although I did not have a very successful year here. I actually prefer the river to be muddy and cold, as it forces the bass to be tight to cover and not as deep. Big yellow perch, crappie, bass and some smaller 15-25" stripers all winter long. During the winter the Occoquan Regional Park is actually open...(things have changed). Fish the marina pilings and bridge pilings up and down the river. The back of the river is dangerous, so don't take your fiberglass rig back past the walk bridge, unless your just plain crazy and don't care if you get stuck on a 10' wide boulder in the middle of the 12-14' channel, and crack your hull. This is where you'll catch some nice walleye and some stripers though. Rattletraps and small jigs or sassy shads will do the trick back here. It will take a while for you to figure it out if your new here.
Lake Brittle- I absolutely hate this place at times, (actually the majority of the time) however if you want to catch some walleye and crappie in the middle of the winter and maybe a nice bass, this is not too bad of a spot. The things I DO like about it is the access 24/7/365 with free boat ramp, (can't use your outboard) and the large fishing pier which is in the deepest area of the lake with TONS of brushpiles below it in 10-17'. If you choose to bottom fish, do so out away from the dock or else I promise you you'll loose your rig. Small crappie jigs on 2-6lb line around the dock and dam area either suspended on a bobber or casted out to fall and jig slowly will do the job. Large crappie are hard to find here though, although there are a bunch of smaller crappie here. Yellow perch are also in this lake. Rememeber that it's further west so the water here will freeze over faster, and if its more than a 45 min. drive for you, I'd suggest going somewhere else. http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/waterbodies/display.asp?id=22
Burke Lake VA- (no outboard motors can be used) Until I figured this place out some, I really disliked it to be on the gentle side of my feelings......Forget about everything on the shore during the winter months and fish the creek channels with stumps and brush as well as deep points. This is a deep water fishery with a large shad population. Find the bait and you'll find the bass. Out of all the lakes in VA, this body of water has the highest electroshocking sampling rates and is rated #1 last time I checked. This does NOT mean it's easy to catch fish here though. If you specialize in fishing deep clear bodies of water with large baitfish populations, you'll learn it quickly.....I do not specialize in deep clear bodies of water so I did not do well here the first 20 trips. I had to learn the hard way. The dam area (from shore) is great during the winter months and there are blue cats in Burke as well as GIANT Muskie, infact I'd bet every piece of tackle I own that there is a state record Muskie in this lake. 4 to 5 lb bass are common here at least for the VGDIF electroshocking crew....and a few deep water fisherman friends I know. To fish downlake park at the VDGIF boat ramp (not the main enterance to the park). This will put you 200 yards from the dam and spillway. Live bait such as minnows fished along the bottom will produce all winter, if your not into the artificials. http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/waterbodies/display.asp?id=26
Tight Lines and dress warm, and wear a PFD at all times this time of year. The newer ones like the Mustang auto or manual inflate fit like a light vest, you'll not even realize your wearing it. If you fall in with all those heavy clothes on, the changes of you climbing back into the boat are VERY slim, let alone even keeping your head above water. Once you fall into 38 degree water on a 40 degree day, you've got 10 minutes to get dry and warm or your dead. PLEASE take this seriously, someone died a week ago on the bay next to one of my prime areas after falling out of a boat.
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