Oct. 2008

Fall Bassin' on the Reservoirs
By Tim Sherman

At right: Scott Thompson’s fishing partner Mark Vancura shows a 5-pound smallmouth bass caught from Prettyboy Reservoir.

Let’s face it. Most of what we hear about bass fishing in Maryland comes from the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac River, Susquehanna Flats, and other tributaries receive their just due. Yet central Maryland reservoirs are afterthoughts of most Free State bassers. The reservoirs are havens for both largemouth and smallmouth bass that only those anglers loyal freshwater fishing enjoy. Liberty, Loch Raven, and

Prettyboy Reservoirs hold the region’s drinking water and therefore are off limits to high performance bass boats with 70 mile-per-hour-plus capabilities. It may take a while for drinking water bass fishers to get to their honey holes, yet there skills rival their tidal bass comrades once they arrive.

One such fisherman is Scott Thompson. The one-time committee member of the Electric Bass Anglers, and current member of the Metro Reservoir Anglers, has fished these three lakes for decades. Scott knows what it takes to catch bass whether competing in a tournament or just having fun. He says that fall offers very good fishing. Bass are aggressive in fall as they feed heavily for winter and Thompson takes advantage of this primal instinct.

The three reservoirs have similar fishing patterns through fall. Scott points out that because Loch Raven has an abundance of underwater vegetation, there are patterns that only work well there. With that being said, Scott looks forward to windy days in fall when he can go to any of the three lakes and have a banner day. This is when he will head right to the wind-blown points -- those with a medium to heavy riffle -- and cast crayfish pattern Rat-L-Traps until his arm is sore from fighting bass. He suggests replacing the hooks on the rattle bait with premium trebles as soon as you take the lure out of the package. Scott will go back over a point with crawfish pattern crankbaits when he feels he has exhausted the bite on the traps.

In Loch Raven, Thompson fishes shallow. He fishes the grass beds in Pierce’s and Hampton Coves until they die back late in the season. He casts a white or grass ghost pattern X-Citer spinnerbait over the vegetation and mixes in an X-Citer buzzbait to test the aggressiveness of the bass. When he finds the topwater bite to be productive, he casts a Scum Frog. He says the hollow bodied bait yields some of the most explosive strikes you encounter throughout autumn. He’ll also skitter a paddle tail worm across the surface when the topwater bite is on.

Scott moves out to deeper water looking for bass in depths of 18 to 30 feet when the sun moves high in the sky. He casts a Carolina rig tricked out with a 3-foot leader and a 6-inch Berkley Power worm. The paddle tail worm also works well. He’ll also cast a drop shot rig with his worm tied 2 feet up the line from the weight. The drop shot technique will work throughout the afternoon, but is most effective late in the day.

Wood plays heavily into Thompson’s game plan on Liberty and Prettyboy Reservoirs. He targets fallen trees with deep water nearby. He fishes each tree thoroughly with a 1/2 to 3/4-ounce jig adorned with either a pork rind or Zoom Super Chunk trailer. Scott says not to move on to another tree until you probe the deep water out in front of it. He has picked up plenty of largemouth and smallmouth bass by fishing the open water. If there is a slight breeze on the lake, he will cast a Rebel Pop-R over the wood.

In late fall, Scott will replace the replace the jig with a 4-inch Slider Worm. All through the season he will cast the gray ghost spinnerbait to provoke a reaction strike when conditions get tough. As fishing winds down on Liberty and Prettyboy, he moves out to depths of 40 feet and slowly jigs with a Hopkins Shorty spoon.

Scott prefers Grave’s Run and Prettyboy and George’s Coves on Prettyboy Reservoir. The Old Dam Breast area is where he jigs with the Hopkins spoon. On Liberty Reservoir, the areas near Routes 32 and 140 yield good fall fishing.

Scott Thompson praises the Electric Bass Angler’s Club and Metro Reservoir Anglers for their dedication to conservation, youth involvement, and reservoir preservation. He has been a part of their efforts to encourage youth fishing and clean up of the water and surrounding area. He urges other users of the resource to do the same.

Productive autumn bass fishing is not only found on tidal waters. Give central Maryland reservoirs a try this fall.


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