by Ken Wood
This one was supposed to be different…
I gambled on the first two KBF Trail events of the season: Kissimmee and Lake Murray. Short trips, no pre-fishing, just in and out, fingers crossed. I did okay at the former, not so great at the latter. But I knew I was rolling the dice and the odds were against me.
The Potomac River event was a different story. I planned to use some vacation time, dedicate at least three days to pre-fishing, hitting as many areas as I could. This would be my third year fishing this event, and the earliest I’ve ever fished it. I’ve done well in the past, and hopes were high.
But my car had other plans, and into the shop it went, where it has been since late March and, thanks to supply-chain issues, where it will stay until late April.
John Ferreira was kind enough to let me tag along with him, but no longer was I fishing to my game plan, I was fishing to his. Luckily, we had some spots that overlapped, and we were able to tag team a few areas, something we’re typically loath to do and have never done before, as common as it is in this sport…
WEDNESDAY: PRE-FISHING DAY 1
The first day of pre-fishing, we launched into a creek near the northern boundary of Route 495. We made our way out onto the main river and then farther north to smaller creek. A few hours in, John found a few good ones, which I matched shortly after.
When we caught up with each other again, we realized we caught all four bass on the same small point. This would be a great spot for one angler to sit on all day, the perfect staging point for pre-spawn bass, one that would consistently reload.
But it wasn’t big enough for two anglers.
THURSDAY: PRE-FISHING DAY 2
The next day, we launched into another creek, this time with Joe D’Addeo, who was staying with us. Joe and I have done well there in the past, so we fished history, hoping the bass would be there, but fairly convinced it would be too early in the season, and it was.
I put up a solid 17.5-incher, but that was all we had to show for it after a few hours of fishing.
John, on the other hand, was putting some pieces together out toward the main river, having landed a 20, an 18.5, and a few smaller bass. He was dialing it in, and we later joined him and caught a few ourselves, dialing it in even further.
FRIDAY: PRE-FISHING DAY 3
On the last day of pre-fishing, John and I launched into the same creek and covered water, looking for new locations, plan B, C, D, and so forth. We found one large cove with relatively healthy holdover grass that held fish—including some mondo blue catfish that were a blast to catch, especially on my Yakrods Black Line finesse rod but it was a near five-mile run from the ramp. Not ideal for me, as my motor runs about 3.5 mph.
Before getting off the water, John made a run back to the area we found fish the day before. On his third cast, he nailed a 19.5, which closed the book on where we would fish the following day.
SATURDAY: TOURNAMENT DAY 1
Friday night, we decided to check out a small launch off the beaten path, hoping to bypass a potential traffic jam at a bigger ramp down the road, which didn’t open until thirty minutes before early launch.
For reasons unknown, we got to the ramp around 3 AM, waking a few people sleeping in a tent. A short time later, a car rolled slowly into the dirt lot, stopped for a bit, and then left. Five minutes later, the car returned with another behind it. Both cars stopped, and for a while nothing happened.
If you grew up where I grew up, this sort of thing never ended well. But after a time, a woman emerged from the second vehicle and got into the first. And then…well, you know.
An eventful start to the day, to say the least, and then we were cruising to our first spot in near full dark, having launched well before sunrise.
Come lines in, I was excited. We had a large area that I thought had been on fire in pre-fishing. I’d only caught one fish there, but Joe had also caught one, and John had caught many—and all were quality. John started on one end, and I was a little over a quarter mile away. Joe was fishing an island about a quarter mile from that. Thirty minutes in, John was on the board with an 18.50 and an 18.25, and he proceeded to crush it, catching countless bass that had him firmly on top of the leaderboard.
After a time, I motored nearer to John and he mentioned that he’d caught “all of his fish” in that spot. And I realized that’s exactly where Joe and I caught ours. So it wasn’t the whole area that was on fire; it was just that one spot.
At that point, I hadn’t gotten a bite besides a snakehead, nor had Joe, and my mental foundation began to crack.
Not long after, I found myself angry. I felt betrayed. I’d wasted hours at this point, and I felt that John should have told us that he’d only gotten bites in that one small stretch. He said he hadn’t realized it until that moment, but I didn’t care, and I didn’t believe him. For me, the game was over.
Ironically, after I left the area, Joe swung into the spot and managed a small limit during a brief window of activity when the tide triggered the bass to feed. Such is the strange bite on a tidal fishery.
At the end of the day, I did manage a small 14.50-incher, but I’d also caught three catfish, two snakehead, and snagged a carp. The only thing I effectively did was crash and burn.
John placed second overall, while Joe landed in 19th, and I smoldered in 78th.
SUNDAY: TOURNAMENT DAY 2
On Sunday, I made the five-mile run to the creek I’d pre-fished on Friday. It took me over an hour, but I was certain I could catch a limit. The tide had other plans. Where there was tall, standing grass in three to four feet of water on Friday, there were grass mats in a foot of water on Sunday. I managed one small 13.75-incher before heading back.
With two hours left, I pulled into the spot where John had been fishing all day. He was struggling with the low tide, having only caught two fish on his spot. We putzed around for a bit before he bailed to check a spot near the ramp. With a handful of minutes remaining, I headed over to his spot, tossed out a shallow-running crankbait, and nailed a 17-incher on my first cast.
And that was all she wrote. Two fish, 36th place.
I’m happy for John. I need to make that clear. I’m genuinely happy for his success, despite my darker thoughts that first day.
My issues on Saturday were all on me. I’ve said it many times: this is an individual sport. While we may have tag-teamed a bit while pre-fishing (after all, we traveled together), we never planned to work as a team during the event. It’s not how we do it. Nor should anyone else, in my opinion, but that’s a discussion for another day.
John did catch fish elsewhere in that area, but the majority came from that one small spot, which had fresh pad stems growing, something that was not present elsewhere around that area, and therefore attracted the fish. I didn’t see that until the last ten minutes of day two, when a small piece of bright green lily pad came up with my crankbait, so I’m sure John didn’t put the pieces together immediately either.
But maybe he did. It doesn’t matter. We were competing against each other as much as we were competing against all the other anglers. I should have left a lot sooner on Saturday. I banked on someone else’s fish, and that’s never a wise decision. A mistake I’ve never made before, and hopefully one I never make again.
This was my third year in a row fishing the tidal Potomac. If KBF returns next year, I’ll be back, with more knowledge and hopefully a stronger mindset.
In closing, I’d like to thank all my amazing sponsors:
Three Belles Outfitters: the greatest outfitter in the Northeast. White-glove service at every turn! Use code KW22 for additional savings.
Rocky Ledge Tackle : maker of some of the most unique baits around. Check out the Swimming Spinnerbait series, unlike any other, and use code KWF10 for 10% off!
Yakrods : unparalleled rods with a lifetime warranty, designed by kayak anglers for kayak anglers. For 10% off, use code KW22 .
Dakota Lithium: the powerhouse behind everything I do. Exceptional in all regards.
ADDITIONAL FACTS AND INFO
The KBF TRAIL and PRO SERIES was hosted by Visit Stafford VA.
Click here to watch the NBC News Washington, D.C. profile of the 2020 KBF Potomac event
KBF Recap 2022 Potomac River KBF Trail: https://www.kayakbassfishing.com/three-potomac-tournaments-three-potomac-champions-nye-fiolka-sweet/
KBF Recaps of 2021 Potomac River KBF Trail:
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