Free on Friday
After guiding full time for 15 years, some clients become very good friends. In February I lost one of those friends. Arvid Knutsen always made me laugh. Sometimes I would fall to the deck laughing so hard. His was a self-deprecating humor. Booking his first trip with me many years ago, he told me he had never caught a bass with a guide. He was willing to learn and researched me as the guy for the job. On our first trip Arvid did catch “a” fish. I could see that he had a long way to go and I told him I could see why he had never caught a bass with a guide. He said “Understood”, smiled and our friendship began.
Fishing once or twice the first year, then eventually every Friday, we hit the water and had fun! He improved slowly, very slowly, but quickly I learned he was really out to enjoy himself. If he caught fish, so much the better. On days where I would have normally canceled due to poor conditions, Arvid would ask what he could expect to catch; I replied “One, if you are lucky!” He accepted the challenge and would catch one. And he would spend the day and months ahead quoting me, including my accurate prediction.
Arvid was so excited about getting on the water; he would arrive at the dock in a total panic. Running late was routine. Tangled line and tackle started every trip. I would get him to a fishing spot and prepare his gear for the day. Often I would go to his house to organize his tackle as he kept bringing more and more gear onto the boat. Rain or shine, he even packed rain gear!
I admired his stick to it attitude! No matter the weather, no matter how the fish were biting, he kept casting! We were together for the best fishing day I ever had, big ones and lots of them. I asked him to take a photo of me with my biggest that day. He obliged, however he cut the head and tail off the fish, including my head as well! After that, we both laughed every time we took photos. We were together on tough days too. Arvid found the positive light, knowing that guides work their butts off on tough days, remarking on what he learned that day and recalling successful past fishing trips.
He gave me a promotion, calling me “Admiral”. I’ll miss that. He was the only one who could out-talk me on the boat for 8, 9, or 10 hours! Phone conversations crammed those hours into 30 minutes. Never a conversation went by without an update on his 3 wonderful kids. After meeting the 2 boys, Arvid emailed a photo of his beautiful daughter. She was so amazingly beautiful that I questioned his paternity, requesting a DNA test, to his belly laughter! This became a long running joke for us, as I could find a way to work this query into just about any conversation to catch him off guard. Every trip with Arvid was memorable! The trips weren’t all about him either; he was fascinated by my career travels, claiming to have learned more about me on every trip. We chatted about everything, finding we had entirely different views on everything. He liked Sammy Davis Jr.’s version of Mr. Bojangles. I preferred Jerry Jeff Walker. We did agree on politics.
This winter he relied on me to drive him to doctor appointments. I was relatively free and it was fun hanging out with him. We had scheduled another chauffeuring appointment for February 14. When I told him that was Valentine’s Day, he told me he would get me a box of chocolates and some flowers. This season, while my schedule may fill in, my Fridays without him will be empty.
Potomac River Bassing in April
Big females are working their way to shallow spawning flats, constantly aware of water temperature changes. Warmer water into the mid to upper 60s and they move up to find beds by the end of the month. Cold snaps send them out to the first available cover or drop off!
Use lipless crankbaits like a Lucky Craft LV-500 and LVR D-7. Slow retrieves with heavier LV-500 will dredge areas nearly void of emerging grass. Use with 12-14 pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line to keep the nose of the bait digging into the bottom. If there is grass, try the lighter and thinner LVR D-7. This bait can be easily snapped free from emerging grass and with a slight pause will drop! This is when most bites occur. In the early part of the month, try red or craw patterns. As water clears and around grass, chartreuse patterns work best especially on sunny days.
Another sure-fire technique is the Carolina rig with ¾ ounce Round Valley Tungsten weights to allow better feel with more noise. Also smaller than lead counterparts they come through grass and cover better. Use Mann’s HardNose lizards soaked in garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray on a 3/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook tied to 12-pound test Edge with a Torque braid 30-pound test main line.
Mizmo tubes with an insert head on spinning gear, 6-8 pound test line, can be skipped under docks and cast to just about any target. Try green pumpkin varieties, specifically River Craw with orange inside a green pumpkin body.
On shallow cover, cast Mann’s Baby-X square bill cranks on 10-pound test GAMMA Copoly to tree laydowns and rock. Works better at high tides with fish pushing up to the bank. Crank to feel cover, then hesitate and twitch. A good cranking rod like the KVD at least 7 feet will cast these a mile!
Written by: Steve Chaconas
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS “Ask the Expert” (http://my.boatus.com/askexperts/bassfishing/)
Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.