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March Comes in Like Aluminum

By Steve Chaconas

March Comes in Like Aluminum


And goes out like fiberglass. After spending the last 20 years riding in luxury with two passengers at warp factor Beltway speeds in new 20 foot Skeeter bass boats powered by a 250-horse power Yamaha four stroke outboards, solo days on my wobbly aluminum West Virginia boat were a scenic country roads escape. Every March I’m in the world’s newest and coolest bass boat with 12-inch sonar screens storing secret fishing spots, revealing detailed sub surface images. Oxygenated livewells allow fish recovery for photos and then live release. Deck padding reduces knee and back strain. Storage for tons of fishing gear! It’s like fishing on a dock, stable no matter wind, weather or current, high enough for visual advantage. Powerful 36-volt trolling motor stealthily sneaks up on largemouth bass. A built in cooler too! My on-the-water office, open for predawn guiding business for hard-fishing 8-hour days, has everything except a secretary and fax.

Recently I said goodbye to my little green 14-foot aluminum boat used at a lake near our Wild Wonderful WV mountain home. Modest, but it offered a large fishing platform, 24-volt trolling motor, carpeting, and tiny 5-inch electronics screen providing not much more than depth and water temperature. Top speed…3.3 miles per hour. Grabbing a handful of rods, bag of tackle, and small cooler, I was one with the fish. Hitting the water no matter the time of day, and only during comfortable mild conditions, fishing didn’t seem like a job. This 10-year-old boat didn’t ask for much.

In one season, I successfully targeted larger fish on the small 50-acre lake in my one man fishing machine. Holding boat ramp classes, introducing locals to techniques and teaching youngsters were becoming routine. I was guiding in my free time! Fishing solo lost its luster and my interest, but this boat was too small to take others.

My nephew Ben’s son Cam has a fish fascination. One of his first words was “fish”. Pointing to fish on my clothing he’d say “fish”. In return I made fish faces to make him laugh. That was our deal. His daddy fished with me as a kid and an adult. Cam will be 4. Time to take him on the water. Time to say good-bye to the little green boat.

Guide buddy Capt. John Sisson sold me a Mare Marine Bass Tracker boat. Almost 4 feet longer, it’s more stable with comfortable seats. A lower deck can corral a youngster for a safer boating experience.  Bringing this starter boat up to my standards began with replacing the basic 12-volt foot controlled electric bow motor with the industry’s most advanced motor. Sporting 24-volt power, this red boat will make small work of non-gasoline waters. Smart controls allow remote operation, the motor to keep the boat in one spot, and can follow contour lines. These features will allow me to spend more time ensuring Cam gets all of my instruction and stays within my reach!

Resourceful WV neighbor Don, who has every tool ever made (Navy genetics), helped me through modifying trolling motor mounting. Scrap aluminum lying around, that you knew you would need some day, reinforced the bow for upgrades. Weekends in my heated garage were spent visualizing equipment layouts to network a trolling motor with two electronic displays. Steps were well thought out to create a plan and an Amazon shopping list. My VA fishing buddy Art, another Navy guy, was on the phone viewing photos, advising me. One of us had to figure something out.

Trolling motor decision was easy; get the top and don’t look back. Same for electronics. But what models? What cables? Linking them? Mounting options? The bow unit views straight down and locates previously marked spots. The dash unit has bells and whistles with nearly three-dimensional side imaging to reveal key underwater formations and fish cover. But the really cool thing is these units work with the trolling motor to create contour maps as the boat moves around the lake, and allows the trolling motor to follow those established fish paths.

No one wants dead batteries to end a trip, so I’m using the battery brand I’ve trusted my last 12 guide seasons, 31 Series DEKA AGM. Calls to Art guided me through wire gauge, fuse amps, and keeping it neat! If it could be taken apart, it was laying on the deck. More orders to Amazon. Things and tools coming off the deck became a good sign. Art’s clean-as-you-go approach paid off. The new red aluminum recreational boat is ready for family and friends.

My 2018 Skeeter is next. Installing DEKA AGM batteries, 10-foot Power Pole Blades and loading fishing gear will have the new red fiberglass business boat ready for my awesome clients. A guide’s work is never done, but an Uncle’s job is more fun.

Potomac River Bassing in March

Fish are moving shallow!  A variety of moving lures will work!  In clear water, try suspending jerkbaits on Quantum Smoke spinning reels with 8-pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon to pick off aggressive fish. Mann’s Classic 3/8-ounce willow/Colorado spinnerbaits with white skirts on 10 pound test GAMMA Edge line work on areas close to deep drops.

For creek mouth points and flats with deep water close by, use Mann’s Loudmouth III with rattles to cover shallow areas with riprap and wood cover. Use casting gear with 10-pound test Edge.

Time to unleash Mizmo tubes with insert heads on spinning gear with 8-pound test GAMMA EDGE line. Target docks near deeper water, as fish use them as current breaks. These can be fished anywhere along with Punisher ¼ ounce hair jigs. For hair jigs, try 15-pound GAMMA Torque braid with 8-pound Copoly leader. Fish slowly and soak baits with garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray.

At month’s end, try lipless crankbaits in emerging grass areas.

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatUS (BoatUS.com) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com

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