what exactly are you fishing for on the potomac. I ask because I never have fished it. Smallies? LMB? Are those fish particular 'picky' about presentation in comparison to trout?
One of the neat things about the tidal Potomac is you could potentially see or catch damn near anything
, even species you cannot identify. Last year I caught a large Nile Tilapia
in one of the feeder streams in a highly urban area.
There are also Snakehead, but I've only landed one -- had hits from others though. A few people have reported redfish in deeper sections, American eels are around, and honestly nothing would surprise me.
What are the typical species I'll target and/or that I'm likely to catch on any given day?
It's a pretty neat fishery, if you can stand the urban setting.
Maybe things are different in other environments and situations, but for me, fishing for trout in rivers here in Michigan, what counts is the ability to present one's fly in a convincing manner.
Absolutely -- no argument there. The same applies on the trout streams near here (about 1 hour west puts you into some great mountain streams and spring creeks).
Fish here are usually holding on structure very temporarily, and often not at all. Many move in with the tide to feed, and then move out. I mostly fish tidal flats with sand/silt bottoms, where the tide will put the depth between literally 10" in spots, and 4-5' at low tide.....then at high tide the low spots might be 3' and the deep spots around 8-9'. Wind is often
a factor, but not always. Water is often clear and it is VERY easy to spook the fish if you wade too closely.
What I do is:
1. Wade to within about 50-60' of spotted or suspected fish, or structure (kayak can get a little closer). Any closer and they usually spook and you might as well just move on.
2. Use a 9-10' leader on calm days, 7-8' on windy days.
3. Flies are often weighted for floating line, less so for my sink tip/int. lines
4. Double hauling and casting to 60-70' is my normal casting distance...but this varies a lot day to day.
5. Dead drifting is basically non-existent -- current is limited to tidal movement and wind....not like a trout stream at all.
6. Mending isn't used, at least not in the general sense.
Actually, for my areas I'd say fly pattern is the least important thing, and the ability to cast long leaders and heavy flies into the wind and for long distances is the single most applicable skill
. In a lot of places you can't possibly sneak up on the fish any closer for shorter casts -- you're literally limited by how far you can stay back and still get a fly to your spots. And I don't always do this successfully
. That's why it is do addictive. You can never master this.
I've fished a lot of different species now in a pretty short period of time -- I am of the belief that the real Gods of fly fishing are the crazy Saltwater guys -- there is nothing more challenging than throwing a long line into insane winds to redfish/bones/stripers in shallow, clear waters. It's masochistic! Those guys can absolutely smoke me and my pathetic skills.