First nice day in a long time – temperature up above 60 degrees – a bit of sun out… clearly… time to go bassin!
I loaded up the basscanoe and the Basswife and we headed out for Smith Lake. I wanted to probe the deep fingers and structure up in the western fork and try out a few bass flies as well. Unfortunately, the traffic gods did not bless us on this day. We rolled onto I95 and were immediately slammed by a two way backup that stretched for miles. As a well trained Army veteran, I executed the immediate action drill for ambushes… I got out of the kill zone as quickly as possible. Thankfully, there is an exit about a half mile from where I get on, so we took that as I quickly did the mental calculus to determine the best alternative course to get to the objective.
This was actually pretty easy since the objective was to go out for bass, not to go for bass at Smith Lake. The instant alternative was to head down to the Lake Ridge Park marina and drop the Basscanoe in the Occoquan. Good call.
About 10 minutes later, I pulled up to the Marina and edged over to the water. I normally just back the truck in where the Woodbridge High School crew does thier boat stuff, but they were on site, so I diverted over to the boat ramp. I typically do not like using the ramps because the concrete grinds up the bottom of the plastic canoe during the launch process. It’s starting to get pretty beat up. Also, I never know whether a canoe is expected to pay the launch fee for the ramp. I usually assume “no” since there is no trailer involved. Since nobody came out, I assume I was good to go with that assumption as well.
The Occoquan is a real river. It is very broad in this section and the depth runs to over 60 feet. The river cuts through a section of country that is surrounded by steep, steep hills. This makes depths of 30 feet right next to the shore common and the fishing difficult. I’ll admit it. I suck at going after deep bass. I know that you can drop shot for them if you can find them on the depth finder, but so far I have not had any success with that technique.
Motts Run Reservior is another body of water where you will have this identical challenge – maybe that’s another reason I did not really like it either.
Anyway, we launched out and headed north. I wanted to work some of the coves and feeder stream areas since they have a shallower depth. As you can see from the map, we divered into a nice long run that I had not fished before. The water at the entrance starts at about 30 feet and runs down to 2 feet in the back water. May need to come back here when the bass hit the beds later (BTW, please release any bass on the beds – this is the one time of the year that I will not keep any bass at all – let’s get the next crop in the hopper first).
The Basswife quickly hooked up a nice little guy who looked really, really cold and not althogether grateful as I popped him back into the 59 degree water. We worked our way up to the end with no other bites. Once at the top of the feeder, we motored back out to the main run. On the way out, I noticed another boat made a beeline right to the shore marked on the map – maybe they know something more about the structure here. I’ll have to check that section on my next trip.
Out in the main river, I turned north again as there was a deep cut about 1/2 mile up that I wanted to check. Unfortunately, there was another boat in there so I turned around to give him peace.
Summary for this water is that it has intense pressure. Not as bad as Burke Lake, but pretty substantial. Also, with the deep structure in the river, ever boat just works the banks. It is easy to get to, easy to find with easy boat launch. There are big bass in here – I’ve seen ’em. But, the overall rating for this is Red it’s just not remote enough.
Closed out of there, we headed back towards the marina, fishing any likely spots on the north bank without any luck. The last few casts were around the structure that guards the entrance to the marina. I laid into a nice fish that bent my rod double and even yanked the drag, but he shook off without a true sighting so I’m not sure what it was. It felt like a catfish. They just kind of chomp and lay on while a bass will skitter around in panic as you work them back.
We were using YUM scented green crawfish and crankbaits. I tried a Clouser Minnow on my fly rod.
In short, a nice day on the water.
Getting There: Take Route 123 to Davis Ford Road/Old Bridge Road; turn left and go about 6 miles to Smoketown Road; turn right. At the stop sign on Griffith Avenue, turn left. Drive another 100 yards or so and you will see the sign marking the entrance to the park. Go all the way to the end. It deadends in the marina
The marina has a concession stand, sells worms and has a few docks where you can park your little kids and watch them have a great time catching bluegills.
The Occoquan is broad and deep.
During the summer, the trees hide the houses – you feel like you are remote
Basswife’s first fish of the year!
Shot of the cove we worked pretty hard. Even this was pretty wide.
Picture of the “command console” of the BassCanoe.
Rod holder on the left keeps my extra rod from tangling. GPS perched on my worm bag, array of weapons laid out and then the PiranhaMAX 30 depth finder on the right.
That depth finder has worked great! It has a sensor that suctions on to the side of the canoe.
I like having the GPS on the trip summary screen as that shows how far I have gone as well as the current speed. When the speed drops below 3.0 mph, I know it is time to head back as the battery is starting to wear out.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore