MD & VA Winter Fishing Report 12/2/17

Where is BayBass?  + The BIG MD & VA Early Winter Report



In case you missed it, I’ve moved far away from the DC, MD, VA area, and I have no intention on returning. I’m out west for now where there is little water close by, but there are some terrific reservoirs within 2 to 3 hours away.  I’ll miss the Potomac and Upper Bay fishing and the friends.  

Now is the season to catch loads of bass.  My wintertime bass fishing on the Potomac is 10x better than any other season with spring coming second. My favorite water temp is 44 and the numbers are often 50-100 bass 12-18”average per trip with two anglers. I'm writing this report from Viera FL where my wife and I are visting my family.  The fishing here is the best in the world.



As far as this web site goes, things will continue and I apologize for taking so long to get back into things by providing the most detailed, honest, and helpful fishing reports and info in the area. Right now is the BEST time to get on a suspended jerkbait bite on the Potomac, as well as the blade bait bite like the 1/2oz nickel Cincy Fisher on 12lb P-Line CXX Moss Green which is my #1 Potomac slayer in the winter months combined with a Pointer 78XD fished on 6lb P-line CXX. Although I’m not physically in the NOVA area, I will still be writing reports and providing helpful info. Not much changes over the years for me. Patterns are patterns and top baits will ALWAYS be top baits. Grass beds change, but wintering holding areas do NOT change. For example Blue Plains, Fox Ferry, Spoils, Belle Haven drop offs, Occoquan, Four Mile Run, Quantico, Neabsco discharge, Mattowoman near Slaven’s (now called Mattingly Park Ramp), and Washington Channel area have been and ALWAYS will be top producers. I’ve been on these spots every winter since the 1987 when I began fishing the Potomac. My buddy Peter A has been out a bunch out of Occoquan as recent as today 12/2/17.  Here are some pics Occuquan today:


The Upper Bay’s Middle River will hold plenty of wintering bass in the same areas targeted by A-Mart in the last big Bay tourney such as (Bowlie’s Marina), mouth of Frogmorter Creek (marina and Martin Airport runway area), and Sue Creek’s main marina (Baltimore Yacht Club). The Seneca Creek Power Plant area, Saltpeter Creek discharge (Carroll Island Power Plant) and the Gunpowder River’s Joppatown Quarry and canals are also prime areas. The Bird River channel as it runs along the grass flats leading back to Day’s Cove are also major targets with lipless and spinnerbaits until the water reaches 45 degrees. The Gunpowder River bridge is and always will be a prime area for me year round, however the wind will prevent anglers from fishing it correctly. On the Bush River, the bridge is awesome as well if it’s not too windy. All of the above mentioned areas will also hold nice striped bass but do not overlook Wilson Point 100-200 yards out off the point in the 4-7’ range, as well as Strawberry Point located on the left side of Frogmorter Creek moving into the creek.  11/3 Peter and Kevin were out on the Middle River and got them good.  Middle River, 11/3:


If you’d like to venture out into the Bay outside of the rivers, focus your efforts on Pools Island, the Carroll Island area, Hart Miller Island’s rip rap and loading piers, and the cut through between HMI and Pleasure Island.  As the water cools down into the 40’s the cut through between Pleasure and the mouth of Back River, also tends to be a prime area.  Inside of the Back River, there are also awesome points and shoals to fish on the western shoreline shortly past Rocky Point Park.  The mouth of Browns Cove is also holding loads of stripers in large schools, but these fish are always moving and you must find the birds to find the stripers. If you want to bend your rod and you don’t care what you catch, head to the Back River Poo Poo Plant, which is 1/2 mile East of the Back River bridge. Throw 1/2oz lipless and my favorite blade bait (Cincy Fisher 1/2oz nickel) and hold on for dear life. Between the carp, catfish, shad and striper, you’ll at least get some “pullage.” If your not finding the stripers and you can make the run to the power plants in the Patapsco. Just follow the smoke stacks and don’t forget the deeper channels where many anglers are trolling larger baits catching some much bigger fish in the 30-40” range.  I was out here with "the boys" just two weeks ago.  Yes, I flew back into town from across the country, just to go fishing on the Bay''s Middle River for one day.  

Sometimes your winter fishing spots will look like the public pier at Sebastian Inlet FL.  The fish will be condensed down to parrticular areas and wintering holes are often well known.


Don’t try to re-invent your fishing patterns each year. If the water is 36-48 inside the Potomac tidal tributaries and the water clarity is 2-3’ and you fish a depth of 5-15’ using Pointer 78dd and 78xd’s and Cincy Fisher 1/2oz blade baits, you will have a much better shot of catching more fish than anyone else on the water. A 1/8 to 1/4oz 3” Mann’s Stingray Grub in Avocado color or BayBass Bug (Watermellon Bling color) fished on a 1/16 to 1/8oz open Cincy Fisher dater-head jighead with a 6’6” spinning rod with a high speed spinning reel spooled with 6lb P-Line CXX will also catch them in the marinas, drop-offs, and channel bends. I’d rather jerk and rip the other above mentioned hard baits if the bass are willing to chase and YES they do chase in the winter, sometimes even to the surface. All of the above-mentioned baits are BIG TIME producers and if you feel like you can out fish them using other techniques, I’d have to question your judgment. I’m not saying you can’t slow roll a spinnerbait, or drop shot in the marinas, fish a jigging spoon, a jig, or a Texas rig, or even a lipless, but I would not focus on these baits too much. If you mix any other bait into your lineup this winter on the Potomac, make it a drop shot 4” straight tail worm on 6lb CXX with a 8-9” leader with a 1/4oz lead weight of any type or design.   


You better have a 7’ to 8' swimbait rod with 60lb-80lb braid and some A-rigs and 6-8” swim baits. Jerkbaits are always going to play a major role in the Burke bite in the wintertime.  A Megabass Vision 110+1 on P-Line 8lb cxx on a 6'8" medium action baitcaster was quite the combo for me for many years.  Forget about how cold the water is…it makes no difference in Burke when the bass are on a school of shad or positioned to ambush in schools as they often do in the winter months. Those bass will chase down a school of bait running over the brush piles any day of the year. Winter bass in the NOVA area are not always on the bottom and this is especially true when the sun is shining and large baitfish schools are present. Bass will often suspend in large schools following bait or they will be suspended on the main lake and secondary points waiting for the large baitfish schools to cruise by most often suspended up in the water column. For Burke Lake, this often happens in the upper to mid lake region this time of year in the 8-14’ zone, which is perfect A-Rig territory. The Cincy Fisher 1/2oz nickel blade bait is also a major producer at Burke Lake all winter long. I do best down lake near the dam with this bait fishing it in 15-30’ December through March.  Don’t be surprised if you run into some supersized walleye on this bait also. Down deep you may benefit from painting your bait also using nail polish on the lead portion of the blade. Pink, and Chartreuse are favorites, especially with little sun such as rainy or overcast days. Be sure to notice what depth the fish are holding at, and vertically jig the bait slightly above their heads. With good sonar set to the correct sensitivity, this should be easily seen. 


Now is the best time to fish huge 1oz Spinnerbaits such as the BayBass Monstrosity made by Cincy Fisher. Lake Anne dam is one of the top producers of small lake bass over 5lbs in the area. Every year I’d catch a 5lb to 7lb bass off the dam area using the 1oz+ Monstrosity. Contact Cincy Fisher directly for this bait as they were made in lower quantities. Fishing a jig through the brush piles located out from the “flat rock” near the first bench on the bike path’s western end at the dam. Throw out 30-90’ out from “flat rock” near the small steel drainpipe along the riprap, and you’ll find the piles in 13-17’. Lake Thoreau dam can often produce in the same fashion as does Lake Newport, but Lake Newport is a jerk bait lake with a high percentage of my larger wintertime bass coming from Newport on suspending jerkbaits. The bass in these lakes eat crappie all winter. If you consistently target the spillway with suspending jerkbaits, you WILL catch a giant 5lb+ bass here. If you crappie fish, you need to float n’ fly the spillway with a 4-6’ drop from your bobberstop using a trout magnet (pink, white, or chartreuse) smothered in Smelly Jelly. 10-14” crappies are COMMON here.  Lake Audubon is also a wintertime jerkbait area with the Pointer 100sp and 100dd being two of the best baits to use here for the larger bass. If you’d like more action, switch to a 78dd or 78xd and fish them off the main lake points. Search all of this main site and forum using the search bar for these lake names to see my older wintertime reports. Peter A has been out on the locak lakes since Thanksgiving and the bass are still eating small plastics and suspending jerkbaits. Misc Pics: 


If you’d like the chance at catching a real lunker, these two lakes are where you’ll need to focus your attention. Focus down lake and focus your efforts in the 10-20’ range. If you can find the brush you’ll find the lunkers and big spinnerbaits, deep diving Pointer xd jerkbaits, and jigs will be your ticket.  Expect Clyde M and Dennis N to weigh in some big fish on these two bodies of water over the winter.  I'm calling a 10+lb bucketmouth by March 1.  


In the past week I’ve been in NM, NJ, and FL and I’ll be heading back west after Thanksgiving. I’ve been in FL fishing the Indian River and Turkey Creek out of my buddy Gregs Ranger 350V (who would have guessed) and I’m catching Snook, Redfish, Tarpon, Jack Carvalle, and largemouth all from the same creek and having an absolute blast. 

The weather in FL is beautiful right now with daytime temps in the 70’s and nights in the 50’s. Why I didn’t move here when I graduated high school is now the 8th wonder of the world. The move is in my future plans. I’ve never seen so many boats and anglers in one place. This is the fishing capital of the world, and now with my family moved down here in a new home 15 minutes from Stick Marsh, 1hr from Okeechobee, 25 minutes from Turkey Creek/Indian River, and 5 minutes from the Ocean, I’ll be down here often until I can move here with my wife permanently.  You only live once and if you are a true angler, you’ve got to place yourself in an area where you’ll always be happy. Nice homes down here near these areas are in the 150-250k range and they are 10-20 minutes from the water.  We went out with a guide one day and fished for larger Snook and we did ok with some nice ones caught.





I flew back to DC the weekend of Nov 4th just to go fishing on the Bay.  Here is the report.


Having a tough time finding a winter fishing hole?


Want to learn more about winter jerkbaiting? 



Tight Lines,

BayBass Bryan Novotny