Again this is not my information but is what I got from a friend who fishes the Potomac a lot and shares his knowledge and experience for everyone.
Frog Fishing grass and pads.
This one is going to get a lot of attention;
This is the way I do it. It is not the only way but it works for me and I have a great success rate boating frog fish. In early spring before the grass gets too thick I use a Med to Hvy action casting rod with a fast tip and a bait caster spooled with 20 lb mono. A Potomac River bass will literally snap in half anything less than 17 LB test more times than not. You don’t want to lose a trophy bass due to weak line. I use a #5 or #6 wide gap hook. I hold the rod in the 10-11 o’clock position during the retrieve and when the bass explodes on it I immediately drop the rod to water level and watch my line while SLOWLY winding up the slack. After about 3 seconds you will see your line start to tighten up. When the slack is just right I set the hook to high heaven. As long as the bass doesn’t feel you on the business end of the rod the bass will hold on to the bait. I use a scent on the frogs just to make sure. If the bass feels you on the other end of the line he’ll spit it out but not to worry. Have a Senko or fluke ready and follow up with one of those two baits and you’ll get em. Before the grass gets to thick the bass will sometimes not give you a chance to drop your rod and wait three seconds. When that starts to happen to me I go with 40-50 LB braid on a 7 Foot rod with a slower tip and good backbone. This will give me a much better hook up ratio when there busting that aggressively. I AWAYS use braid with spro frogs anytime of the year. The grass gets so thick in mid to late summer that when a bass explodes on your bait, it not only gets the frog but he also gets a mouthful of grass and slime to boot. What the LMB will do is to spit it all out and then suck the frog back in. A lot of people do not realize this and that’s why I wait three seconds. It definitely improves my catch ratio in mid to late summer. In late summer I drop the mono all together and go specifically with braid. It is an absolute must to get them up out of the thick stuff. I prefer rods with slow tips for braid and fast tips with mono. Depending on the day I will use 5:1, 6:1 or a 7:1 retrieve speed reel. It all depends on the bite. From time to time you want to kill it in mid retrieve and that may trigger a bite for an extra fish or two.
The bass will usually either be set up on the base of the stalk of grass or lying just underneath the top canopy portion of the grass. The very thickest clumps normally hold the bigger fish so pay attention to the thick stuff and give it an extra cast or two. A hungry Potomac LMB will hit top water all day long regardless of how much the sun shines. I am willing to bet that 9 out of 10 tournaments on the Potomac are won on Top Water, Flipping a jig or plastic, on a Spinner Bait and or throwing a combination of all three.
Top water fishing the Potomac isn’t restricted to just frogs. Strike King Rage tail worms, lizards, and shad are also a few of my favorite plastics. Down size on a slow day and go as big as you can on an aggressive bite.
Where Bass Live; Grass on the Potomac
“In the Grass” is the next if not the most over used one liner response when you ask the question “Where’d you catch em?”. First here are a couple of clues about grass. What I have noticed over the years is it grows very thick from a foot deep out to about 3 ½ to 4 feet deep and then it begins to break apart. As the summer progress it will continue to go out to about 5 to 6 feet deep and then starts breaking up. Just how thick it gets and how deep it will reach depends on river bed conditions and tidal / river water flow. It’s hard to imagine now but at one time in the mid nineties the grass was so prolific on the river it started at the rocks in Leesylvania and extended out a good 5 to 7 hundred yards towards the river channel. It pretty much covered both shorelines from DC to the beach located just to the south of Potomac creek. Talk about intimidating! Approach fishing the grass like you would any other shore line and attack it accordingly. A map recon is a good place to start. Just look at the contour lines and depths and right away you will see where to start. The grass line will follow the contour line pretty dog gone closely. When looking at a Potomac river grass bed remember where bass are most likely to set up for feeding and start there: IE; Thick clumps, current breaks, shallow drop offs / depth changes, edges, points, cuts, holes, deep water access, etc. Keep it simple; remember the basics of where the bass most likely will be positioned for feeding and resting, select an appropriate search bait that you have confidence in an do what Eddie suggested, keep the boat moving until you get bit and then adjust from there. Eddie Griggs gave you great advice when he said not to over complicate fishing the grass beds. Remember well that the big mama’s will be buried in the thickest clumps, near a drop off on an outside edge / current break and or a point. There are actually two outside edges to look for. At low tide you will see a distinct thick grass bed that creates an edge and then gets looser and looser the further out you get from it. If you approach the same area from deeper water from the main river watch your depth finder on the way in and you will see where the very outside edge begins. As summer progress the grass keeps getting thicker and thicker and the edges move further out creating new points, holes, cuts, etc. Later in the summer towards Aug you get an algae bloom the will make a thick yellowish mat over the top of the grass. Underneath this mat (IE; flipping the mats) the water is gin clear, cooler than the surrounding water, shaded, and has an edge of its own. Personally, when I fish an inside grass line I like to have at least 2 feet of water on it. I try to find shore line bank that breaks quickly into at least a 2 foot drop, and if it has lay downs and a grass line nearby it is a perfect scenario. Add a few docks to that equation and now you really have something. There are very few places on the river that doesn’t have grass with wood, rip rap, pads, shell beds, etc. Two other things you want to look for and is a reminder of things already said; always keep an eye out for off shore clumps of eel grass and grass beds where the current has cut a channel through it making it an island of grass separated from the main body. These areas will really load up latter in the summer. Good luck guys, and I hope this helps a little with the river.
A couple of more details about fishing the grass:
When the algae bloom first begins the entire water column will have a yellowish tent to it and if it’s bad enough you will see millions of the small yellowish pieces of algae partials everywhere. It’s not until later in the summer that they collect over grass beds and that’s when the water gets gin clear underneath. What happens next is that the current, wind, boat traffic, and other factors start to tear it into smaller pieces and you get multiple mats everywhere within a grass bed. The other detail is even through a grass bed looks like it’s a solid bed of grass 4 miles long by a half mile deep if the map says there is a drop off or point under it there is. That’s a place where you want to go and give it a flip or two. More next time.