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Potomac River Watch

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 26, 2022

Fishing Report

The Shenandoah system’s North and South forks rare low, clear, and fishable. The summer pattern has anglers on the North and South forks catching fish in the early morning and hitting shaded current areas during the day. Anglers are finding smallmouth and catfish. The mountain trout streams in the national park are low but trout are responding to evening hatches of insects and moths flying around the streams.

Little Girl Fishing at Little Seneca Lake

In the South Branch Potomac, smallmouth bass are being taken in the river around Petersburg. The river is low and clear, so follow the summertime mantra of long casts and very slow retrieves.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are reporting decent action in the trout management areas. The North Branch may be hard to fish from some banks due to the Jennings Randolph release this weekend. The ICPRB trout monitoring program on the North Branch is continuing with good success in tracking tagged trout.

The upper Potomac River continues to produce nice fish this year. Water temperatures are around 80 degrees with good clarity. The low water levels seem even lower in the stretch from Point of Rocks to the Monocacy/ Nolands Ferry, where aquatic grass stands are strongly established. The area is still generally passable by boat, but just barely, according to some users. The grasses provide habitat for bass, baitfish, and other creatures, and is contributing to great water clarity this year. The usual access points are all fishable, with a range of smallmouth bass including the occasional 20-inch fish. Anglers are using soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and stick worms to probe rock gardens with currents and eddies. Treefalls and other structure are secondary targets. Low-light times are best to find fish seeking cooler temperatures. Channel catfish and flathead catfish can be taken with live bait.

The metro area is in typical summer pattern, with anglers targeting bridge pilings, riprap, docks, and other structure, preferably in the shade. The area around Key Bridge provides a break from the crowds. Casting plastics and crankbaits to bridge pilings can bring a strike by smallmouth, largemouth, or striped bass. Washington Channel walls and drop-offs are productive. Snakeheads can be found in the lower Anacostia, Some nice bass are being found in the spoils area and the docks at National Harbor.

The tidal Potomac is fishing about the same with early morning and evening periods of moving water providing the best conditions. Channels and deep holes are the home of large blue catfish that can be taken with cut or live bait. Largemouth bass fishing remains good with anglers targting docks and structure until the gras beds fill in at Mattawoman and downstream. The Mattawoman lilly and spatterdock stands are producing largemouth bass and snakeheads, which can also be found lurking in the grass beds at the heads of tidal creeks. Grass beds in Pohick Bay and Chicamuxen Creek are producing some nice fish. Floating mats of detached or dying aquatic grass hold crayfish and provide shade for bass holding below, and penetrating the mats with plastics can bring some good bites. Stick worms fished very slowly are always good bets in the summer heat.

Fishing activity around Colonial Beach is picking up, with some nice catches of striped bass in the 30-inch range. Anglers also are finding some nice Spanish mackerel and bluefish, along with some large spot and croaker. The salty water also is hosting high numbers of sea nettles. There was a report of a bull shark being caught in a catfish net north of Mathias Point. The river’s summer dissolved oxygen problem is about average for this time of year, and depths below 15 feet in the main channel may not have enough oxygen to comfortably hold fish. Blue catfish are readily available.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are landing some nice Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and red drum. Croaker, white perch, and kingfish are still being taken around Cornfield Harbor. Bluefish are common, and anglers are casting in the shallows for speckled trout. And of course there are blue catfish.

Be careful on the water this weekend. Be mindful of the hazards of abundant sun and high temperatures on both you and your quarry. Handle all fish to be returned quickly and with care.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and  Machodoc Creek Marina, Inc.

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 19, 2022

Fishing News

Striped Bass Closure

The striped bass fishery on the tidal Potomac mainstem is closed until August 21.  Virginia striped bass season is closed until October 4. Maryland embayments to the Potomac are open to striped bass fishing. This conservation measure was enacted because hot weather and low oxygen this time of year creates tough conditions for striped bass to survive catch and release – and this high mortality impacts the future of our fishery. Although the season has reopened, water temperatures remain high, and anglers should play all fish quickly and minimize the time fish are out of the water before release.

REPORTS

The Shenandoah system’s North and South forks remain clear and fishable, and not much has changd during the previous week. Mountain trout streams in Shenandoah National Park are fishing well with the temperature moderating. It still pays to visit early in the morning to catch wary trout at their most active.

Both the North and South forks are holding some nice smallmouth bass and channel catfish. The slow pace has been boosted a bit from the slightly higher flows and cooler temperatures.

In the South Branch Potomac, smallmouth bass are being taken in the river around Petersburg as the region cools. Early morning will be the best time to chase smallies in the cooler water.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are at decent flows and temperatures, but we have not seen any reports from the past week. The trout management areas fish pretty steadily, however. The ICPRB trout monitoring program  on the North Branch has had to share focus with staff monitoring the Shenandoah for harmful algae blooms.

The upper Potomac River continues to fish well. Water temperatures have slid into the upper 70s. Visibility is good, with some stain. Water levels are near median. While the summer patten still holds, the slide in temperature is bringing some larger smallmouth bass into the action. Good fishing can be had from any of the major access points, including Lander, Point of Rocks, Brunswick, and Whites Ferry. As grass beds grow and levels remain low, traditional boats wil have difficulty navigating some areas. Canoes, kayaks, and wading will open up a lot of river over traditional boats. Soft plastics, buzzbaits, stick worms, and small crankbaits can take fish from boulders and rock gardens in the main channel, the downstream edge of grass beds, and downed trees or other structure. Costs need to be accurate and retrieves slow and deliberate. Early morning and evening remain the best times to entice a bite. Channel catfish and flathead catfish can be taken with live bait.

The metro area holds lots of different structure, but aquatic grass production has not been great this season. The area around Key Bridge is productive but uncrowded. In the District, bridge pilings house largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass. Channel and blue catfish will take live or cut bait. Areas with an armored shoreline, such as Washington Channel, will hold a mix of fish. Snakeheads are an added feature in the lower Anacostia. Soft plastics and crankbaits will find bass at the pilings, docks, and riprap structure. Some nice bass are being found in the spoils area and the docks at National Harbor.

The tidal Potomac remains in summer mode, and anglers are rewarded when fishing very early in the morning or at night. Blue catfish are in the deeper holes, waiting for a line with cut or live bait. The river channel off Fort Washington is particularly productive. Largemouth bass are being taken at the mouth of Piscatawy Creek. Downstream, Mattowman Creek lilies and spatterdock hold a mix of largemouth bass and snakeheads. Grass beds downstream in the embayments are popular spots. Pohick Bay , Aquia, and Chckamuxen creeks are fishing well. Floating frogs over gass beds is catching some nice bass, while the shallower creek heads with grass are yielding snakeheads. Stick worms fished very slowly remain a good tactic. Soft plastics and buzzbaits at grass beds edges can be effective. Leeesylvania has been fishing well.

Fishing activity around Colonial Beach is slow but picking up. Striped bass can be taken in the Maryland embayments, but the Potomac and Virginia embayments remain closed. Anglers are seeing a lot more sea nettles as the dry conditions bring more bay saltwater up the river. Spanish mackerel are being taken in the relatively clear 82 degree water. Catches of large white perch are being reported. Blue catfish are readily available.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are flanding some nice Spanish mackerel and red drum. Croaker, white perch, and kingfish are being taken around Cornfield Harbor. Bluefish are common, and anglers are casting in the shallows for speckled trout. And of course there are blue catfish. Crabbing has been going pretty well.

Be careful on the water this weekend. Be mindful of the hazards of abundant sun and high temperatures on both you and your quarry. Handle all fish to be returned quickly and with care.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and  Machodoc Creek Marina, Inc.

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About the Basin: Catoctin Mountain Park

Catoctin Mountain Park

Thurmont, MD

A man sits on a rock overlooking a valley of trees in the fall.

Photo Credit: Peggie Gaul (NPS)

As summer comes to a close and kids start returning to school, our thoughts turn to cooler weather, autumn color changes, and less-sweaty outdoor activities. There are many places to catch the leaves change in the Potomac River basin. Hiking, fishing, and boating in the region can be top notch when the weather is cool and the sun stays up late. The Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Maryland, is one of the more popular places for “leaf peeping.” It’s not just the fact that it is within an easy drive from the DC Metro Area, but it is also part of a larger area of public lands that stretches through Cunningham Falls State Park, Middletown and Frederick watersheds, and beyond. The contiguous stretch of second-growth mixed hardwood forest creates a dramatic view from both the freeway and the trailway.

With 25 miles of hiking trails in Catoctin Mountain Park, and even more trails connected to Cunningham Falls State Park, there are many opportunities to get your fall fix.

There are also plenty of opportunities for grabbing a cozy blanket and a pumpkin spice latte and watching the wildlife go by as you sit by a cozy campfire. Owens Creek Campground, Camp Round Meadow, and Camp Misty Mount have a variety of campsites and cabins.

The creeks are clear and clean. It is common to see folks fly fishing for brook, brown, and rainbow trout in the cool water. Big Hunting Creek, one of the largest creeks in the area, was one of the first Maryland streams to be designated as a “fly-fishing only” stream. There are some regulations to know, so make sure to read-up before you grab your tackle box.

For the more adventurous out there, the rock climbing and bouldering opportunities abound.

The park started as the Catoctin Recreation Demonstration Area to allow “city folk” a chance to enjoy the outdoors during the Depression. It was part of the many Civilian Conservation Corps programs that we still benefit from today. Stone from local quarries and logs from recently-felled American Chestnut trees affected by the blight were used to build the cabins in the 1930s. A decade later, those same cabins were used for military training during WWII, with the added bonus of providing additional protection for nearby Camp David.

As part of the National Park System, rangers at the visitor’s center (open daily) provide maps, a bookstore, history of the park, and educational materials on the flora and fauna you will experience there.

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 12, 2022

Young boy with a fishing pole sitting on a rock in the Shenandoah River.The Shenandoah systems’ North and South forks remain clear and fishable. Recent rains have bumped water levels slightly but they will quickly return to normal for this time of year. The rains will moderate water temperatures somewhat. Both the North and South forks of the Shenandoah are producing smallmouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. The fishing is slow, a typical summer. Officials continue to monitor the North Fork for effects from harmful algae blooms. The ICPRB is assisting in this effort. Daybreak and dusk are the best times to fish. A variety of lures can be effective if fished slowly and carefully. Mountain trout streams are low but fishable.

Low water and higher temperatures are making for a slowdown in fishing along the South Branch Potomac. Anglers report some smaller smallmouth scattered throughout the system.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are fishing well in the trout management areas. Water temperatures have moderated from the storms, bringing some relief for fish and anglers. The ICPRB staff are continuing to cooperatively monitor fish and conditions in the North Branch to inform efforts to improve the productivity of these important fisheries.

The upper Potomac River continues to fish well. The summer pattern has bass spread out, and smaller fish seem to be the most active. Water temperatures are holding in the low-80s. Smallmouth bass and channel catfish can be caught from any of the major access points along the river, including Point of Rocks, Lander, and Whites Ferry. As grass beds continue to grow low summer and fall stream levels will limit the range of boats. Anglers using kayaks or canoes or wading will be able use more of the river. It will pay them to fish daybreak or dusk when the fish will be more active. Soft plastics, creature baits, and small crankbaits worked very slowly can take fish, along with stick worms worked slowly on the bottom. Look for rocks in the middle of the river or current eddies where fish wait for bait to pass by. Channel catfish and flathead catfish can be taken with live bait

The metro area has waters carrying some mud and stain from recent storms with water temperatures in the mid-80s. Fish in the early morning and evening. Washington Channel’s grass and drop-offs harbor bass.  Bridge pilings throughout the district provide good targets. Cast plastics or crankbaits to the shady areas of the pilings to entice a strike. Buzzbaits and other surface lures can bring nice strikes in low light. Some nice snakeheads are being taken in the lower Anacostia, along with channel and blue catfish.

The tidal Potomac is in typical summer mode with temperatures in the mid-80s, with slow fishing. Moderating temperatures will make it a little more pleasant for anglers, but fish will still be sluggish. Blue and channel catfish will continue to take live or cut bait fished in deeper holes or channel bottoms. A boat or two can usually be seen along the channel near Fort Washington in search of 40- plus pound blue cats. Bass anglers are finding some fish at the mouth of Piscatway and in the spatterdock and lilies in Mattawoman Creek. Anglers are sometimes crowding the grass beds downstream. Pohick Bay is a popular spot with lots of habitat. Dragging a floating frog lure across the beds at low moving water can bring exciting strikes. At higher water, anglers can probe the bed edges with a variety of buzzbaits, crankbaits, and plastics.  The snakeheads are in the grass as well, with some protecting their young after recent spawns. Aquia, Chicamuxen, and Pomunkey creeks all have extensive grass beds.

Fishing activity around Colonial Beach remains slow. The mainstem Potomac remains closed for striped bass fishing. Anglers are finding some large white perch. Catfish are in the main channel bottom. Sea nettles continue to encroach on the region. A good population of spot and baitfish, portend a nice fall season for stripers. Crabbing is improving.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are finding large spot, and white perch, Anglers are finding Spanish mackerel and large red drum around Cedar point. Speckled trout are being taken around aquatic grass in the morning and evening. There are reports of a few Cobia near Point Lookout Crabbing is getting much better. Blue catfish are always available.

Be careful on the water this weekend. Be mindful of the hazards of abundant sun and high temperatures on both you and your quarry. Handle all fish to be returned quickly and with care.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and  Machodoc Creek Marina, Inc.

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About the Basin: New Germany State Park

New Germany State Park

403 McAndrews Hill Rd, Grantsville, MD

Nestled within the expansive arms of Savage River State Forest in Western Maryland, New Germany State Park sits in the valley between Big Savage Mountain and Meadow Mountain.

The Lake House is where the action is at New Germany. It is where staff hold park-sponsored events, a snack bar provides sustenance and souvenirs to weary adventurers, and the large Black Forest Room is available for events or conferences. A nature center and native plant garden introduce visitors to the local flora and fauna. Canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards, and row boats are available for rent from the Lake House.

A vintage photo of a man with a dark jacket standing in the snow, holding a camera.

Photo credit: Fred Besley with camera in hand at the opening of the ski resort– 1941 (MD DNR).

At one point in history this area was known as the “Maryland Alps” when downhill skiing became popular in the 1940s. It was the venerable forester Fred Besley who knew the best way to get public opinion in favor of states forests was to get the public in the forests, so he and a team of foresters worked to install Maryland’s first ski resort in Maryland. Although the resort closed a few decades later, the popularity of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing continues for locals and tourists alike. Rental equipment is available at the Lake House, as well as a chance to get warm after a day playing in the snow.

The New Germany lake is small but provides a picturesque view year-round. Anglers may find largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, and stocked trout.

Grab your floaties and sunblock to jump into the lake at the designated swimming beach.

A variety of cabins and campsite options include some winter camping possibilities. The twelve rentable cabins are fully furnished and available year-round. They are perfect for a quiet weekend away with family or friends. The campground provides shady spots and a central bathhouse with restrooms and showers. A couple spots are available with RV hook-ups. Two of the campsite loops provide year-round camping opportunities with a heated bathhouse.

There is no cell phone service at the park, so plan accordingly.

New Germany Lake surrounded by trees with a mountain in the background.

Photo Credit: New Germany State Park, Nicole Sharp (Flickr).

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About the Basin: G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area

Thompson Wildlife Management Area

July 15, 2022

Markham, VA

Thompson WMA forest with a carpet of large-flowered trillium flowers.

Photo credit: Judy Gallagher, Large-flowered Trillium – Trillium grandiflorum, G.R. Thompson Wildlife Management Area, Linden, Virginia (Flickr)

Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, or Thompson WMA for short, is a gem of a recreational area in northwestern Fauquier County, Virginia. It is close enough for a day trip from the DC Metro area but far enough to make it feel a world away.

The highlight of Thompson WMA is the abundance of large-flowered trillium in the spring. Each spring, around Mother’s Day, the forest floor is carpeted with these showy, colorful flowers for as far as the eye can see. It’s not just the flowers that put on a show. The birds are in competition with the trillium for Best in Show. The stunning colors of birds like the cerulean warbler and scarlet tanager mix with the sights and sounds of a plethora of migrating and residential birds, creating a bird-watchers paradise. A Virginia Department of Wildlife Resource video, Trillium Bloom at Thompson WMA, shares some of the treasures you can find on a spring morning.

The Appalachian Trail runs through Thompson WMA along the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains. Various trails branch off the Appalachian, creating a network of rugged, but rewarding, hiking trails. The trails are multi-use, including equestrians, so don’t be surprised if you come upon a horse or two.

Dress in your finest orange attire during hunting season since this is a popular area for hunters. Deer are the most sought after, but turkey, woodcock, grouse, and other small game are possibilities.

Wildlife management areas are managed for wildlife and humans get the benefit. But that also means that there are few amenities, trails can be rugged, and roads can be rutted. Plan accordingly.

There are 11 designated parking areas throughout the WMA. Cell reception is spotty, so if you plan to meet a friend, make sure to agree on a specific parking area in advance.

Please make sure to follow the permitting requirements when utilizing public land. Anyone over the age of 17 requires an access permit to visit a Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources-owned wildlife management area. Hunting and fishing licenses are required for their respective activities. Additionally, there are special permitting requirements for camping in Virginia’s wildlife management areas.

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ICPRB’s Fishing Report – July 1, 2022

The Shenandoah system is fishing well. The water is clear and both the North and South forks are fishable. Water clarity will call for some stealth, and the low light of early morning and evening will increase the odds of a nice trout or smallmouth bass. Good reports of smallmouth bass are coming from the Bentonville-Front Royal area of the South Fork. Sunfish, catfish and largemouth bass round out the opportunities. The mountain trout streams are warming with some hatches occurring.

Anglers on the South Branch Potomac are finding some nice smallmouth bass in the deeper pockets as fish concentrate in these areas.Young boy stands with a fishing pole on a rock next to the Shenandoah River.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers continue to produce rainbow and brown trout. Water temperatures are rising, and ICPRB biologists are tracking some North Branch trout to observe their response to warming water. The study can help inform management decisions on coldwater releases from Jennings Randolph and Savage reservoirs.  Most of the action is upstream of Pinto.

The upper Potomac River is in summer mode, with decreasing water levels and some stain. Water temperatures are about 80 degrees. Visibility is about two feet in most areas. Early morning is a good time to try some topwater poppers and buzzbaits. The section from Edwards Ferry to Dickerson is fishing well. Lander, Point of Rocks with its stargrass beds, and Brunswick are good access spots. Rock gardens and structure are great locations and the fish are spread out. Soft plastic ploppers and tubes are good baits to explore rocky bottoms. The Monocacy River is fishing well from the mouth to the Route 28 crossing. Smallmouth bass sunfish, and channel and flathead catfish are all biting.

In the tidal Potomac, the lack of grass beds has anglers hitting docks and wood structure on moving tides with a variety of soft plastic and crankbaits. The 80-degree water is carrying some stain. The visibility of about two feet improves near any grass beds. The National Harbor area is producing some largemouth bass. Anglers are finding bass in the cuts and channels around Belle Haven. Piscataway is producing some nice fish. The deep channel that runs past Fort Washington is heaven for those seeking monster blue catfish, whose population continues to grow at a concerning rate.

The fish may be somewhat wary in the area after last weekends bass tournament. Run out of Mattawoman Creek, 149 anglers competed and many caught good numbers of fish. The grassbeds downstream were heavy targets for the pros. That said, the pads and other vegetation in the creek is a good place to look for bass and snakeheads. Downstream, Pohick Bay, Aquia Creek, and Dogue Creek have nice beds of grass worth targeting, as well as some of the mats of broken grasses that create floating islands that hold fish underneath. Snakehead fishing is very active at the heads of tidal creeks with grassbeds in shallow water. Floating a frog lure over the beds on a moving tide can produce some great topwater strikes, that require some finesse and braided line to get them out of the thicket.

Anglers in the Colonial Beach area are enjoying very good striped bass fishing this year, and it may be related to the huge numbers of menhaden (bunker) and other baitfish frequenting the area. Anglers are trolling, jigging and live-lining for the fish. A small number of them have been caught with sores but overall the fish seem to be active and healthy. Anglers also are catching some white perch, and croaker. The water continues to carry a green tint, but no algae blooms have been reported.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers continue to report very good catches of stripers at the mouth and up in the St. Mary’s  River. The channel from St. Georges to Piney Point is a hot spot. Some nice fish have been taken around Cobb Island. Anglers are trolling channel edges, jigging, and live-lining spot, which are readily available along with other baitfish. The warming water will begin to stress striped bass, and anglers are encouraged to handle fish carefully so that returnees can live to fight another day and contribute to future stocks. Some cobia, croaker , and red drum are being taken and some anglers are finding some small flounder. Some dolphins are beginning to show up at the river’s mouth. Crabbing remains a slow process.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and  Machodoc Creek Marina, Inc.

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About the Basin: Seven Bends State Park

Seven Bends State Park

July 1, 2022

Woodstock, Va.

Young boy with a fishing pole sitting on a rock in the Shenandoah River. The Seven Bends State Park is named for the twists and turns of the North Fork Shenandoah River as it meanders along the base of the Powell Mountain in northwestern Virginia. It is those same twists and turns that makes one feel they are the sole occupant of this small slice of undisturbed nature.

As part of the Massanutten mountain range, the area is on the ancestral land of the Indigenous nations of Manahoac, Massawomeck, and the Shawandasse Tula.

The Park is one of Virginia’s youngest state parks. It quietly opened in 2020, but the official dedication took place in June 2022 to great fanfare as it joined the state’s 40 other state parks.

There are two access points to the park. The Hollingsworth access at 2111 S. Hollingsworth Rd. will bring you to a large open field with plenty of parking and a kayak/canoe access point. It is tough to reach the river here, so if that is your destination, choose the Lupton access point at 1191 Lupton Rd. This provides a smaller parking lot, but easy access to trails and plenty of fishing spots along the 3-miles of riverfront. Alternatively, you can put your canoe, kayak, or tube in at Hollingsworth access and float the 3 miles (and roughly 1-2 hours) down to the Lupton access.Map of Seven Bends State Park.

Smallmouth bass are the most popular fish for anglers; however, you may also spot sunfish, fallfish, largemouth bass, and muskellunge (please follow all fishing license requirements).

Picnic tables provide a nice gathering place for before or after your trek on any one of the 8 miles of trails. Interesting sites await if you brave the steep trails, including the remnants of two centuries old water reservoirs. One is in ruins but the other still provides an abundant ecosystem (and good fishing).

The area is open every day from 6 a.m. until dusk. There are no overnight accommodations (yet, anyways). The park’s Master Plan calls for campground and visitors center focused on environmental education.

Photo Credits: ICPRB and Google Maps

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About the Basin: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

June 17, 2022

Photo Credit: David Brossard, Do You Know the Way to Harpers Ferry (Flickr)

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and its dramatic history, have been explored and extolled by many and for good reason. The town is steeped in history, and it is evident as you walk through the historic village with its living history storefronts and gaze upon the imposing cliffs across the river.

Harpers Ferry sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers in West Virginia. It also “sits at the confluence of history and nature” (National Park Service). It is said that history repeats itself, and that is no different for this small town perched at the meeting spot of two large rivers. Few people have made the area home in the past few hundred years, but the transportation possibilities and natural resources meant,  “The region was used as a highway, a hunting ground, and a place for raiding and trade,” according to a 2017 NPS Report. The Tuscarora and Shawnee tribes built temporary villages in the area, and it was where Catawba and Delaware tribes would clash.

After a series of treaties, broken promises, and finally, the French and Indian War, the indigenous population moved West and European settlers eventually moved into the area in the early eighteenth century.  It continued to be a place of transition as it was repeatedly razed by floods, fires, and war. The people were resilient and continued to populate the area, build up the town, and then rebuild after disaster strikes.

The area is best known for the raid by the abolitionist John Brown, which was considered a pivotal step towards civil war. The town was torn apart by the Civil War. It changed hands, from Confederate to the Union forces, eight times during the war.  A beacon of hope that came from the ashes of war was the development of Storer College, a post-war institute of higher education for formally enslaved people. Supported by the Freewill Baptists, Storer College used many of the wartime buildings to grow their campus. Beyond education, the college provided a sense of community. The college closed its doors in 1955 but you can still explore the former campus.

In addition to history, the Park provides access to the Appalachian Trail/C&O Canal Tow Path by way of an adventurous pedestrian bridge next paralleling a busy railway over the Potomac River. Take a detour off the tow path and hike up to Maryland Heights for a stunning view of the town and the rivers.

Each Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer, you can join National Park Service staff as they tell “The Story Behind the Scenery.”

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ICPRB’s Fishing Report – June 24, 2022

Maryland is considering some changes to fishing regulations. Public comment is invited. A little boy is holding up a fishing pole with a fish on the hook.

The Shenandoah system is fishing well. On the South Fork, anglers are finding some nice smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish between Luray and Front Royal. Some musky and carp are in the mix. The mountain trout streams are running well and clear with some hatches occurring.

The South Branch Potomac is pleasing anglers with good flows and quality smallmouth bass and sunfish particularly around Petersburg, W.Va. The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers continue to produce rainbow and brown trout. Water temperatures are in the mid-50s. Stocked areas still have a few fish.  Most of the action is upstream of Pinto.

The upper Potomac River is running somewhat low and clear. Nice smallmouth bass are being caught in many areas. There is a good topwater bite in the early morning and evening. During the day, anglers are focusing on ledges and rock gardens in the middle of the river. Good access can be found in Brunswick, Point of Rocks, Whites Ferry, and Lander. Anglers are using soft plastic baits fished slowly down in the rocks and structure that creates eddies in the flow. Stick worms are a favorite with some anglers. A number of anglers have said that the smallmouth bite has been some of the best in recent memory. Flathead and channel catfish are biting, and few anglers have reported catching some large musky.

In the metro area, anglers are picking up some nice bass upstream of Key Bridge. Bridge pilings in the District are being targeted for a mix of largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass. Plastic baits dropped around the pilings are producing some nice fish. Docks and other structure also hold fish during the day, when they can hide form the bright sunlight. The Washington Channel is producing bass at the seawall and in the grass beds.

In the tidal Potomac, Anglers are finding bass along the docks at National Harbor with soft plastics, buzz baits, and crank baits. The tidal guts and channels around Belle Haven Marina are producing some nice bass and snakeheads. Blue catfish in the 40-pound range are common catches in the channel off Fort Washington, and just about everywhere else that anglers probe with cut bait. (Using blue cats as cut bait is a good way to help control the population of this huge fishery.) The spatterdock and other grass beds in Mattawoman Creek are popular. Grass beds become much more lush downstream of Pohick Bay, and become a focus for largemouth bass. Hollow frogs and other topwater baits dragged across the beds bring strikes. Crank baits, plastics, and ploppers can catch fish at the edges of the beds, particularly in moving water. Spawning snakeheads are thick in the heads of tidal creeks with good grass.

Anglers in the Colonial Beach area are seeing some of the best striped bass action in years. Anglers are casting jigs and trolling to catch fish, with anglers getting their quota in a couple of hours of effort. The stipers seem to be reacting the huge numbers of baitfish, primarily bunker (menhaden). Successful anglers will keep an eye on the sky and water to find schools of baitfish that the stripers are concentrated around. White perch and croaker are being caught as well. Visibility is good and the water carries a green stain in some areas.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are reporting good catches of striper at the mouth and up in the St. Mary’s  River. Much like in Colonial Beach, anglers are taking fish by jigging, trolling, and live-lining spot. Fishing the steep edges of the channel from St. Georges to Piney Point is a perennial favorite. Anglers finding schools of baitfish around Smith Point are taking some nice stripers. The catch incudes some red drum and speckled trout. Even at times when nothing else is biting, there always are blue catfish everywhere. Crabbing is slow.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, and Shallow Water Fishing Adventures.