I gained an interesting perspective on fishing hydrilla beds in open water from Maryland bass pro Brian Schmitt, who bagged his third FLW EverStart Potomac River win in late June. For starters, Schmitt’s notoriety as a top Potomac stick means he has to work extra hard to find isolated areas where he’ll have minimal company from other anglers.
Schmitt said he uses his sonar to locate deeper grass beds that haven’t topped out, as these are often overlooked by other anglers. These stands are typically offshore, which presents the added benefit of offering fish a summer retreat from the warming shallows.
In the Potomac’s tidal waters, the fish tend to push deep into the grass on the incoming cycle and drop out to the deeper edges when falling tides drain and compress the inner mass. (In non-tidal waters, expect the bass to roam the edges during cloudy or otherwise low-light conditions and tuck into the cover when it’s sunny.)
The other variable Schmitt faces is recreational boat traffic. Even when fellow competitors keep their distance, pleasure boats and personal watercraft operators have little regard for an angler’s efforts, so maintaining one’s balance in wake-churned open water is tough enough, but all that commotion can muddy a spot.
On the upside, the bass typically stay put. They don’t want to leave their grassy fortress. They do, however, usually require a more active presentation. Schmitt strictly fishes a jig and instead of the usual drop and retrieve, he covers rough, muddy river water by hopping, popping, and swimming his jig to make sure the fish can find it.