Hot Action On The Sassafrasby: Steve vonBrandt
Duffy Creek is a good place to start first. It is by the restaurant, and you should quickly work the docks and wood with spinnerbaits and buzzbaits for any active fish. If this doesn't produce, then go back over the same area with a black and blue jig and a 4 or 5 "Senko, and cast as close to the moored boats and docks as possible, making a quiet entry with the bait. Flipping and pitching are good techniques to know here. Work them well, but don't waste too much time here if they don't produce. Try to present the baits at several different angles before moving on.
The next move is up the river about a mile to Hall Creek. Work the wood even in the very shallow areas at all angles with a white/chartreuse 3/8 ounce "Terminator" spinnerbait or a "Rat-L-Trap." Several six pound bass were caught here on these lures. Check your line frequently for abrasions and nicks, as the cover will fray it easily. If these areas don't produce, move up to McGill Creek, and work the pads in there with a 1/2 ounce "Tournament Frog" in Black or Brown. First work them slowly, and if you don't get ant strikes, work them quickly through the pads pausing only once on the way back to the boat. Many times this draws some reaction strikes when they don't hit it worked slowly.
Just a short distance up the river from McGill Creek, on the left hand side of the river is Freeman Creek. This can be an excellent area. Be sure to work the pads in here with a Tournament Frog and a buzzbait. Many days, we pulled a 15 pound limit right out of here, without ever leaving. If the pads don't work, move directly across the creek, and flip the docks with a jig, small worm, or a "Senko." Don't overlook Turner's Creek near the beach, or the pads and grass by the point and in the back.
These areas have all produced bass at times in excess of 5 pounds. Stripers are also caught in this same area. Use your depth finder to locate the water that is from 4-6 feet deep, and move along slowly, looking for the grass beds and weed edges along the drop-offs and bluffs. Many 4-5 pounders were caught by casting a spinnerbait, small worm, and a buzzbait, while staying in about 4-6 feet of water, and casting to the pockets of thinner grass.
Some of the things you should have are a spinning rod in 6 to 6 1/2 foot, with a medium action for smaller baits, such as grubs, 4" Senkos, and French Fry worms. I like to use 8-10 pound test Stren line with a good quality reel like a Shimano or Daiwa. You should also have a Heavy-Action baitcaster with 20-30 pound test for working the pads. These 5 and 6 pound river fish will really tie you up in here, and you need to be able to muscle them out. I also like to have a good 7 foot rod, such as BPS, or a Lews, or G. Loomis Cranking stick for the buzzbait.
The best times to fish is a few days before, and up to a full moon, and the first hour and a half of the incoming tide, and the last 2 hours of the outgoing tide are best. During periods of slack water, move a little off shore and work the grass flats with a small grub, and a 4" worm, dropped into the pockets.
The Sassafras River can be exciting most of the time, but when it turns off, it really turns off! If this happens, try running back towards the marina, and head up under the drawbridge, and work all the fallen docks with a "Senko" rigged weightless, on 8-10 pound test, try wacky-rigging it if it doesn't produce any takers the conventional way. Work all the real shallow wood in here also, with a spinnerbait presented repetitiously, from many different angles.
Maps of the Sassafras River are available from "Mare's Marine" in Fredericktown, Maryland, and at sporting goods stores and marinas in the area.
Added: Thu Apr 10 2008
Last Modified: Fri May 15 2009