It was to be the last hurrah of the summer for smallmouth fishing on the Upper Potomac. I had had my eyes on the Edwards Ferry Launch for months and saw that an additional benefit was access to Goose Creek directly across from the launch point. The launch itself is well developed with a concrete ramp. Unfortunately, it has a very small parking area where, if you trailer a boat in, you may have a hard time positioning the trailer in one of the limited number of spots.
The first challenge after launch was to fight our way through the thick, dense mats of vegetation that had built up over the warm summer. It was frustrating to have to continually unclog the trolling motor as the long skinny strands of grass wrapped themselves thickly around the propeller. After a few minutes of futile attempts at forward progress, we reverted to paddles and pushed our way across the mat into the mainstream of the Potomac. We were only able to use the trolling motor for a short distance until we hit the grass bed that protected the mouth of Goose Creek. I don't know how people in the larger boats are able to fight their way through these obstacles. I would guess that with a jet or traditional outboard motor, the thick weeds would have a similar effect and cause that boat to drift helplessly downstream without the ability to revert to paddles.
The good news is that once we were into Goose Creek itself, there was no vegetation. It was easy motoring all the way up to where we were closed out by shallow water below a set of dry rapids. My strategy was to go all the way upstream and then drift downstream using the creek's current to propel us back to the Potomac. On the way up, I noted that the creek was generally deep. Although I did not have my depth finder with me, I estimated that in most places it was 7 feet or more because I could not see the bottom. The water on this day was reasonably clear with a little bit of milk dimming the transmission of light.
As you can see from the track on the picture above, we did not get that far before we were closed out by shallow water. There was a guy fly fishing at that point and, as we swung by as far away from him as we could get, I asked him if he'd fished here before. He indicated that he had and had reached the creek from the parking area near where we were floating. He also said that usually this spot was more active as a result of the churn coming out of the gradient break that we could see upstream. We moved a little bit farther up to see if we can get through and, failing that, swung back down apologizing to him if we had spooked his pool. I had the trolling motor on the low speed and we did swing wide so I hope we did not disrupt his fishing day.
We started fishing 100 yards below where the fly fisherman was and where the deep water began again. We were using the normal assortment of bass lures -- grubs, spinners, crank baits and even a buzz bait flipped up against some likely logs. Nothing was moving! The only fish we pulled in was a 15 inch catfish who grabbed a Panther Martin spinner. Not even a sunfish! As I looked around, I realized that there was not really any current in the creek. In fact, at this point in the year, the creek was just a backwater of the Potomac without much movement. That may have impacted the environment and pushed the smallies back out into the mainstream of the Potomac where there would be a greater flow of food and certainly more bait fish to pursue in the dense vegetation.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
There's a beautiful development on the northern bank of Goose Creek with elegant townhouses and a very nice-looking golf course that ends at the mouth of Goose Creek where you will see racks of canoes, a picnic area and a dock. All of these belong to that development and there's a polite sign at the dock that says they will be happy to arrest you if you trespass.
Bottom line: I'll come back here in the spring/early summer when there's water flowing through the creek that would pull the smallies upstream. But this late in the year, it was a losing proposition.
Getting There: From I495, take Exit 39 onto River Road. Follow River Road and take a right onto Mt Nebo Road. Go left on West Offut Road followed by a left turn onto Edwards Ferry Road. Follow it to the end and you will be at the boat launch to canoe across the river to the mouth of Goose Creek.
Google Local Coordinates: 39.102957,-77.473097
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented on the Loudoun history page... among others.
Date Fished: 10/4/2009
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