VA and MD Winter Fishing Report 2019

VA and MD Winter Fishing Report 2019


There is no excuse for not fishing in the wintertime.  The vast majority of freshwater fish do not hibernate, and they do not stop eating.  They may eat less often, and they may not be willing to chase, but you can still catch them.  The majority of my most memorable trips over the years have been in the dead of winter with water temps 38-42, with the majority of these outings on the tidal Potomac River, and area lakes such as Burke and Frederick.  The excuse of "everything is frozen" is also never a valid excuse because it is impossible for this to occur.  There are areas of the upper and lower Potomac River which never freeze over, and the Shenandoah River just 1hr from Dulles Airport and accessable by outboard powered glass bass boats, jet boats, and kayaks..........NEVER freezes.  I have been fishing the below 3 bodies of water this winter with Fredrick coming in 1st place as I have fished it most.  I'm on the hunt for big fish right now, and Frederick has the BIG girls, f1 genetic strain Florida largemouth, not to mention the MASSIVE smallmouth and pike in the lake.  When I fish other areas, I'll include them, but I'm not going to M.S.U. about places I have not fished in the past few weeks.  

POTOMAC RIVER- Bass are holding in deep water holding areas off of the main river with little current/tide flow.  They do not like heavy tidal movement in the winter in order to conserve energy.  Smallmouth will be more likely to be near or in current and north of the WWB (DC water) is the place to find them.  The area around Belle Haven Marina is ALWAYS good in the winter if you know where the deep holding area is within sight of the marina.  The magic depth is 7-15' with some bass holding as deep as 25-30' within rivers such as the Occoquan.  The yellow perch run has started and they are THICK in many rivers and being caught as shallow as 3-4' as they prepare to spawn.  Warm water discharges are stacked with fish as always and they are more agressive, chasing, and even eating topwaters at times with water temps in the 50-60 degree range.  There are several of these on the tidal Potomac and all are accessable, with three of them being accessable even when the rest of the surrounding water is frozen.  

Be aware that the best area to fish in a WWD, is not necessarily the outflow area.  Tidal movement moves the warm water around and bass can be caught within a quarter mile of these discharges which is specifically true up in DC.  Don't fight to get in on the boats sitting on the discharge outflow and instead work the surrounding areas until you show water cooler than 46-47 degrees.  Best baits are 1/4 to 1/2oz Cincy Fisher blade baits, 1/8oz to 1/4oz Mann's Stingray Grubs, and 1/16oz to 3/16oz Ned Rigs.  On the incoming tide, the lipless bite has been on due to the stained river water working it's way into the discharge creeks such as FMR and NC.  This will stain up the normally clear discharge water and the fish will become "dummer" as they hunt for food.  A 1/4oz chrome/blue rattletrap/XR25 or similar will get the job done.  This is especially true with FMR creek.  These bass will not be as aggressive to eat the lipless in the gin clear discharge water across and upstream a few hundred yards from the car dealer off of JD Highway.  I've been fishing this place for a LONG time and I have reports here on the main page.  Just type the spelled out version in the search box.  "4" is not used in the spelling of this creek.... spell it out.

The jerkbait bite has been dynamite in the WWD's due to the clearer water, but the jerkbait bite on the river in general has been terrible due to the decreased water clarity.  Lucky Craft Pointer 78, 78dd, and 78xd are my go-to hard baits fished on 6lb P-Line CXX Moss Green.  The Rapala HJ-10 is also the killer bait in these clear water discharge areas.  Jerkbaits are not to be reeled in while jerking.....let them sit still suspending in the water column for 3-10 seconds at a time before your next twitch, twitch.  Replace your hooks with #5 or #6 light wire trebles for easier penetration.  Crappie are stacked up in marinas inside of the creeks in 7-15'.  Spinning rods rigged with 4lb P-Line CXX and 1/16 to 1/32oz Trout Magnets and 0.5" tube baits/grubs suspeneded 4-10' down via slip bobber are the best possible combination.  Striped bass are inside of the deeper rivers are I ran into one 18.75" Sunday 1/20/19 as seen far above.  They were down in 20-33' in the Occoquan and the Cincy Fisher 1/2oz blade bait did the trick.

BURKE LAKE- This is the time of year to catch a monster out of Burke.  The majority of the fish in the lake have moved downlake with the exception of the few brushpiles uplake in the 10-15' zone.  Due to the lakes shad base, the bass are focused on following large schools of gizzard shad around the lake.  These bass will chase and A-rigs, swimbaits, and larger spoons and Cincy Fisher Fat Head blade baits, can be the ticket this time of year.  Jerkbaits such as the Pointer 100xd and 100dd are the ticket if you have the patience to fish them deep and slow.  Use your sonar and find the brush and steep dropping points, banks, and channel bends with schools of fish.  When in doubt, fish a Cincy Fisher 1/2oz blade bait on the bottom with stort hops. Walleye are stacked up downlake in the 15-35' zone and they will almost always be on the bottom in groups.  Ice has formed on parts of the lake but if frozen, the Occoquan River is only 5 minutes away and hardly ever freezes.  


LAKE FREDRICKBass are holding down lake in the 12-25' zone and are being caught on Cincy Fisher blade baits, slow rolled spinnerbaits, and drop shots.  Ice has been forming in some areas but the dam is often free thanks to the winds.  Deep diving suspending jerkbaits have also been the ticket for me when they are willing to rise off the bottom.  Jerkbaits twitched on the bottom in the 12-14' zone have also gotten some good attention.  Crappie and other panfish are available from the fishing pier and chumming is the best way to get them going.  You will need a few cans of tuna, mixed in water, and combined with a few tablespoons of garlic powder or garlic salt.  Don't shake up too much.  A 32oz gatorade bottle per each can works fineBe sure to mix some garlic and old bread crumbs / bread up in the mix as the crumbs hold the scent very well.  Wait 15 minutes and drop your slip bobber nightcrawlers/crappie jigs directly below the chum area.  

I partnered with a lure painter..  these folks are GREAT.

Ranger is running promotions on new boat sales.  Click far above banner.  

Lake Fredrick Facebook page is the place to read reports on Fredrick, click the banner

Cincy Fisher has the best blade bait on the market hands down, click the banner

Japan Tackle has the top shelf JDM tackle you won't see or find here in the US, click the banner

P-Line is the #1 co-polymer fishing line in the world and the strength tests show it.  6lb on all my spinning rods and 10-12lb for my 1/2oz blade baits, lipless, 100 size jerks, spinnerbait/chatterbaits, and topwaters. Tackle Warehouse carries the Moss Green CXX.  Click the above banner.  6lb tops on spinning rods.  For fluoro, use the HALO 6lb on spinning and 17lb for pitchin plastics come spring.   P-Line continues to support me and I'm very greatful for their partnership.


TIght Lines,

Bryan Novotny