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Use vegetation to target summer smallies

As we head into July, be prepared for the explosive growth of submerged vegetation in the Potomac and other rivers. As I discuss in my book, some places are better than others in terms of avoiding the thick growth that can totally close you out. In particular, if you want to fish off Sycamore Landing (upstream from Seneca breaks) or at Pennyfield Lock, do it now.

While I tend to regard underwater vegetation as a plague to be tolerated since I get hung up a lot using flies, the proper perspective is to look at this as transitory structure and go weedless to attack it. As long as the vegetation doesn't totally close out an access point, it becomes a holding position for bass that you can exploit. The April issue of Bassmaster Magazine had two good articles on vegetation.

Here are the key takeaways from Mike Pehanich:

  • Look for something different. Look for the boundary between two different types of vegetation - that typically indicates a change in the river bottom that attracts fish.
  • Look for spots where sand transitions to rock and grass.

In his article, Bruce Ingram points out:

  • Fish the downstream hole on small islands where water willow throws shade
  • Smallmouth relate more to the sides of grass beds and typically face upstream -- fish the edges
  • Use lures that mimic minnows and shad {comment - you can g et jars of small shad colored minnows in Gulp! Alive - small enough to even use on a fly rod with a split shot if you are not a purist}
  • Look for breaks in the grass where you can see ledges, logs or boulders -- all attract fish
  • Don't just throw in the middle of the grass bed, find something different about it that attracts fish

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Thick vegetation clogs Pennyfield starting in August!


Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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