Boyd Pfeiffer and I recently fished a section of the tidal Potomac in the vicinity of Smallwood State Park, on Mattawoman Creek, with bass guide Andy Andrzejewski of Reel Bass Adventures. It was a day to tuck away as a lifetime memory.
We met Andrzejewski at the park's excellent boat-launching facility and were making our way across the main stem of the Potomac by 7 a.m.
"There are some humps all across this section of the river, but it's too windy and rough to fish them now. Maybe in a couple of hours it will die down and we'll try again," Andrzejewski said.
Andrzejewski's first stop was the Amtrak Bridge at Powell Creek on the Virginia side of the river. "Cast right up against the pilings," he said.
Pfeiffer and I fished Rattle Trap lures tight against the bridge piers for about 30 minutes but only managed to lose two lures each.
Andrzejewski then pointed the boat through the pilings and up Powell Creek into a lily pad-carpeted area that looked like something out of a bassin' fan's dream.
We fished points and open pockets of marsh and around a huge beaver house. Andrzejewski pointed out a big swirl and Pfeiffer cast a spinnerbait to the spot, but to no avail.
"By all rights we should have hooked a dozen or more largemouths by now," Andrzejewski said. "Let's reel them in and move to another spot."
This is one of the great advantages of fishing with professionals. A good pro goes to where the fish should be at a certain time. If they aren't, he doesn't waste valuable fishing time beating empty water, but instead moves immediately to another potential hot spot. That's how we ended up in Neabsco Creek and changed our luck dramatically.
Andrzejewski again put us up against the Amtrak Bridge and instructed us to cast "as tight up against the pilings as you can get your lure."
A half-dozen casts later I put my chrome Rattle Trap against a concrete piling about 20 yards away, gave the Quantum Energy spinning reel's handle a crank and the water exploded as a plump 15-inch largemouth grabbed the bait.
Boyd, fishing the opposite side of the boat with a white spinnerbait connected moments later. In all, we hooked five bass in under 30 minutes.
We then moved away from the bridge to the rocky, cliff-like eastern side of Neabsco Creek.
"We'll fish this out to Free Stone Point. You should pick up large and smallmouth bass all along this shoreline," Andrzejewski said. "I'd try to put my lure into the shade against the shoreline and work it back steadily just under the surface. The bottom here drops off gently, so you're going to find bass throughout the retrieval area."
I put my first cast just past a huge mushroom-shaped rock sitting off shore some 50 feet. As the lure swam past the rock's shadow, a nice bass grabbed it and put of a scrappy fight, throwing the lure before I could win the tug-of-war. Pfeiffer, fishing from the forward area of the boat, soon hooked a fish, but it, too, won the battle. We hit this shoreline from both directions twice and hooked seven bass.
By then it was mid-morning and we were scheduled to be back to the Smallwood dock by noon. "We've got about an hour and a half and it's still too rough to hit those spots out in the main river, but I've got a spot I want you to try," Andrzejewski said.
We crossed the Potomac back to the Maryland side, went past the Smallwood dock on Mattawoman Creek and stopped at Marsh Island. I thought we had good bassin' before, but the best was yet to come.
Marsh Island doesn't look very good. The water is very shallow, vTC not more than 3 feet at its deepest, fartherest casting distance. The bottom is mostly mud and grass.
Andrzejewski handed me a crankbait called a Flat Shad and told me to "retrieve it the moment it hits the water."
I did exactly what the pro told me and immediately landed a 3-pound largemouth. Pfeiffer cast into what Andrzejewski called "nervous water" and pulled out a bigger bass. This went on until we had to rack our rods some 60 minutes later. The Marsh Island tally was a dozen hooked, six boated.
The area we fished is only 30 minutes from most of Anne Arundel County. Simply take Route 301 to Route 225 West at LaPlata. Turn left at Route 224 and follow the signs to Smallwood State Park.