By Steve Chaconas
During a recent visit to the Potomac River, I finally got to step into my pro buddy’s boat for more than a quick interview or a photo. Troy Morrow has been around for a while, fishing several pro tours. He has a knack for the Potomac River.
Lots of things have changed for Troy in the last two covid seasons. The biggest, his move to Phoenix boats was a rare move for the Georgia pro who’s had the same sponsors for quite some time. His deck was decked out with 17 white Duckett rods and reels, spooled up with high end Sun Line. Each outfit is specifically tuned for each technique Troy plans to employ in this tournament. His lures of choice to cover water were a unique buzz bait and a Zoom crankbait.
Troy demonstrated a new sticky sharp Gamakatsu G-Finesse hook. The bait keeper secures soft plastics, perfect for drop shot. Zoom soft plastics are on his line for every fishery across the country. Every tournament stop requires different baits and different colors to be successful. Making baits for nearly 40 years, Zoom is one of the oldest soft plastic makers with more than 70 industry-leading products and more than 400 unique colors. But it was the crankbait made by the company’s founder Eddie Chambers that got us talking about how innovative his company was, stretching the imagination of the soft plastics industry and going beyond with fish-catching balsa wood crankbaits. After Eddie’s death, Zoom stopped cranking out crankbaits, but Troy keeps throwing them, taking extraordinary efforts to retrieve when snagged as they are selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
A Garmin LiveScope master, Troy uses two LiveScope units, one in forward scan, the other in the wider perspective view. Finding the fish holding cover that produces a fish that might win a tournament is important but finding a fish no one else has located can be just the edge he wants. Dropping waypoints help him remember specific spots from year to year. Troy fine tunes his approach to them to find the best conditions for each spot, depending on weather, water clarity and of course tides.
Tides do more than bring water in and out, they dictate fishing strategies. Pad fields normally filled with water and fish wouldn’t be targeted as tides weren’t going to be high. Instead, milk runs of hard cover or scouring grass beds would be the strategy. But grass beds would be tough to fish and likely crowded. As if conditions couldn’t be tougher with the bad turn of the tides, the rainiest August on record left the Potomac rather muddy. Five bites would be tough to come by. Normally five fish winning limits would average 15 pounds a day.
But it was more than just fish talk. Every angler has fishing tools, pliers, net, lure retrieving devices. Troy also had an umbrella. Of course, I asked about it. When waiting in his boat for the tournament to take off, sometimes Tory is sitting in the rain. The umbrella comes in handy to keep him dry at the beginning of the day. Good to know! Troy and I go back to the early days of the BoatUS pro team. The Angler program lasted for four years. We had a great team and had a great product for bass tournament anglers to protect their boats on and off the water. This insurance addressed specific needs of anglers that also covered rods and reels along with other accessories. But more importantly, we had fun.
The Potomac has been my home waters for 40 years. Troy has owned it for about 5. He still maintains it’s his Garmin electronics, but after spending 10 hours on the water with him, it’s his time on the water, paying attention to detail, that makes him great at what he does. Subaquatic vegetation isn’t all the same. Troy recognizes all of them and has developed love or hate relationships with each. Knowing the architecture and the time of emergence for each type will dictate how and if you should fish them.
Approaching a dock, I noticed that spiders had been busy stretching webs from piling to piling. Troy says these are good ones because no one has been fishing them to remove the strands. Interesting to know. I’ve probably seen spider webs thousands of times and never gave them a second glance. But when money is on the line and competitors are all around, a small detail could pay big dividends by providing a slight edge.
Fishing with a professional angler is educational and entertaining. Fishing with a friend who’s on national tours is a rare opportunity. I’ll be watching the standings to cheer him on, and ready to chat to keep him alert on his long drive to his next tournament destination, keeping his mind free from cobwebs.
Potomac River Bassing in November
Grass beds are nearly gone! Hard cover is still a good target but paying attention to depth changes will be key. Finding areas close to deeper water and channels leading to the deeper water are primary targets.
To cover water, craw patterned squarebill crankbaits can deflect off cover. Same goes for ¼ ounce spinnerbaits with gold blades and white skirts. Tie to 10 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. Vary the speed depending on water clarity. With temperatures above 60, crawling a lipless crankbait along gravel banks also on 10 pound test Edge will find fish close to deeper water.
Jigs on cover are a good choice, but also Texas rigged tubes and shaky heads rigs can pick off fish on hard cover and especially docks. Drop shots will get even the tougher fish to bites. This finesse technique can work very well on docks.
Always have a buzzbait rigged to locate fish and to determine their mood.
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.