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About the Basin: Michaux State Forest

The southern half of the 85,000+ acres known as Michaux State Forest is on the top edge of the Potomac River watershed near Gettysburg, Pa. The contiguous forestland encompasses several state parks and natural areas.

Michaux State Forest is part of Pennsylvania’s 1.2 million-acres of state forests, but it boasts a variety of “firsts” for forestry in the Keystone State, including the first tree nursery, the first forestry academy, the first wooden fire tower, the first steel fire tower.

Year-round recreation opportunities abound in Pennsylvania’s “cradle of forestry”. Areas for ATVs, hiking, fishing, boating, horse riding, mountain biking, and camping can be found throughout the park. During the colder months, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing are popular activities. Maps for most of these activities, plus an auto tour of the forest, are available online.

Michaux State Forest has 60 miles of nicely maintained trails, this includes 36 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

Several lakes and reservoirs offer a tranquil destination for anglers and boaters, including the Long Pine Run Reservoir. Several stocked trout streams offer the chance for excellent cold-water fishing.

Always check with the local authorities regarding permits for recreational activities.

 

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 30, 2019

Managed trout areas (catch and release) in western Maryland are running low and clear, and those areas, along with some mountain trout streams in Virginia are benefiting from the cooler weather and water temperatures. Streamers and terrestrial flies are drawing strikes.

The South Branch Potomac downstream of Franklin, W.Va., is running typically for this time of year, but the areas has a fair amount of algae growing on the rocks, and fishing has been slow. The North Branch is stained, but benefiting from the lower temperatures.

Smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah has been good. Anglers also are catching sunfish and catfish.A little boy is holding up a fishing pole with a fish on the hook.

Anglers are reporting catches of crappie and sunfish along with smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac. Some success has been reported in the Lander area. Fishing around Brunswick has been slow. Catfish are biting for those using cut bait.

In the District of Columbia, some catfish and smallmouth bass are being taken at Fletcher’s Boat House. Anglers are finding crappie and largemouth bass in Washington Channel and the grass bed at the War College wall. Bridge pilings and wood structure are holding largemouth bass and catfish. Anglers are targeting structure in this area because of the lack of grass beds.

Downstream, anglers will find bass in the grass beds around Piscataway and Mattawoman creeks. These areas should be less populated than last week, when a tournament was taking place. Anglers are targeting the heavier grass at the head of tidal creeks for snakeheads. The main channel near Fort Washington is the home of very large blue catfish.

Anglers are trolling for some nice striped bass near the Route 301 Bridge. The channel edges there and from Piney pint to St. Georges Island is another spot for stripers. Bottom fishing for croakers and spot near the river’s mouth has been productive. Spanish mackerel remain a prime target for anglers, with some bluefish and small stripers in the mix. Anglers also are finding seeing some red drum on the bottom, and are finding some cobia as well. White perch are available off most structure. Crabbing is very good.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, Steve Chaconas/National Bass Guides, Mike Dudash/Eagle Aquatics, River and Trail Outfitters, Aqualand Marina, and White’s Ferry.

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Potomac River Fishing Report – August 23, 2019

Managed trout areas (catch and release) in western Maryland are running low and clear, but the fish are there. These areas will be more productive in the fall after October stockings. Fly fishermen are using a lot of streamers and ant imitations. The South Branch Potomac is yielding some nice smallmouth bass upstream of Petersburg.

The Shenandoah system is fishing well, with good catches of smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish.

The upper Potomac is best in the mornings and evenings, but overall the section from Harpers Ferry to Brunswick has been disappointing this season. The extended wet period for the river has impacted spawning, and the lack of aquatic grasses has decreased habitat. As an example, the massive meadow of water stargrass usually visible from the bridge at Point of Rocks is not there this season. The fish being taken are near shore in the morning and evenings, and retreat to ledges and rock gardens at the bottom during the day. Anglers are reporting catches of crappie and sunfish along with smallmouth bass. Catfish are biting for those using cut bait.

In the District of Columbia, anglers are finding crappie, catfish, and some smallmouth bass at Fletcher’s Boat House. Anglers are finding crappie and bass in Washington Channel and the grass at the War College wall. Bridge pilings and wood structure are holding largemouth bass and catfish.

Downstream, anglers will be sharing the river with a major bass tournament this weekend, which will center on the river and tidal creeks downstream of the District. The river temperature is in the mid 80s, and anglers who can slowly fish the grass beds on a moving tide will be rewarded. Mattawoman Creek, Aquia, Pohick Bay, and the mouth of the Occoquan will likely be extra busy this weekend. Snakeheads  can be found in thick grass up the tidal creeks, many of which are guarding the young in their nests. Monster blue catfish are being taken in the channel from Fort Washington downstream.

Anglers are trolling for some nice striped bass near the Route 301 Bridge. More stripers are being taken off the rocks at Cobb Island. Croakers are being found off St. Clements Island. The channel edges from Piney Point to St. Georges Island is a reliable striper area. Anglers are taking spot off the bottom and are using the fish to live-line for striped bass (anglers must use circle hooks). Spanish mackerel seem to be everywhere, with some bluefish and an occasional red drum on the bottom. White perch and croaker are being caught, and some anglers are taking cobia. Crabs are reported to be light, and are likely in their last shed for the season.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, Steve Chaconas/National Bass Guides, Mike Dudash/Eagle Aquatics, River and Trail Outfitters, Aqualand Marina, and White’s Ferry.

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About the Basin: Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

Waterfalls, boulder hopping, and rare flowers can be found right off the beltway — you just need to know where to look.

A small waterfall in the background leads to stream pools in the foreground.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve (Photo: MostlyDross, 20131122_7739)

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is a choose your own hiking adventure type of place. Want a short, meandering walk with the kids? There’s a trail for that. Want to jump boulders while clambering up steep, rocky trails? There’s a trail for that. Want breathtaking views of waterfalls and the Potomac River? Yep, there’s that (but for safety reasons, swimming and wading are not allowed).

The trails are not blazed, but the park is small enough that there is little chance of getting lost. The park’s 384 acres is bordered by I-495, Georgetown Pike, the Potomac River, and a subdivision. The Fairfax County Park Authority provides a detailed topographic map online as well as at kiosks throughout the park.

The only blazed trail is the Potomac Heritage Trail (PHT), which runs through the park. The PHT is a network of trails that run from the tidal Potomac to the upper Youghiogheny river basin.

Spring is a popular time to visit the park due to the carpets of wildflowers found amongst the trees.

The park truly is an oasis amongst the traffic, noise, and hubbub of city life. That was by design. The land was bought in the 1920s by a D.C. attorney, Edward Burling, as an escape from the city. Mr. Burling would visit his cabin well into his 90s and yet refused to let trees be cut down to install a phone line. When Mr. Burling passed in 1966, the parcel of land became the poster child for the nascent environmental movement when the local community fought developers sdasfrom turning it into a subdivision. The story even made it into the New York Times (The Making of a Park, 1970).

Study the topography of the map before heading to the park. This will help decide which of the two parking lots to use and which adventure to choose.

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ICPRB Business Meeting Announcement

The 4th Quarter ICPRB Business Meeting will be held September 10, 2019, at the ICPRB office in Rockville, Md. The ICPRB Commissioners will be updated on the on planning for our 80th anniversary celebration, hear about a recent collaboration between ICPRB and the Maryland Natural Resources Conservation Service, and they’ll get a special presentation on ICPRB’s recent work on streamflow and biotic effects of impervious cover in the Potomac River Basin. The public is invited to attend, but please RSVP as space is limited.

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 16, 2019

Little Girl Fishing at Little Seneca Lake

Managed trout areas in western Maryland are running low and clear, but the fish are there for patient and stealthy anglers. Hatches of aquatic insects have slowed, and anglers are throwing ant and beetle flies during the day, along with streamers.

The South Branch Potomac is low but fishing pretty well for smallmouth bass and sunfish. The Shenandoah has growing areas of algae in some spots, but is giving up some nice smallmouth bass, particularly in the North Fork.

The upper Potomac also is showing some algae as far up as Paw Paw, W.Va., and may be a result of continuing stormy weather and the lack of aquatic plants from more than a year of higher flows and decreased sunlight. Anglers are reporting some catches of smallmouth bass and catfish.

The upper Potomac is best in the mornings and evenings, and anglers are taking smallmouth bass off poppers and other topwater baits. During the day, fish are holed up in the shaded ledges and rock gardens near the bottom. The Brunswick section is fishing slow for bass, but catfish are biting well.

In the District of Columbia, Fletchers Boat House is reporting some bass and catfish. Washington Channel and the war college wall and grass beds consistently hold bass and cats. Anglers are targeting bridge pilings and docks as well as wood structure for largemouth bass and catfish.

Downstream, anglers are targeting the reduced grass beds and lily pads for largemouth bass. Snakeheads continue to spawn and can be found up the tidal creeks in shallow water. Fish of about four pounds are no unusual. The deep channel off Fort Washington is home to some very large blue catfish.

From the Route 301 Bridge downstream, anglers are finding striped bass, a lot of Spanish mackerel, spot, and perch. Channel edge between Piney Point and St. Georges. Available spot are being used to live line for stripers (anglers are required to use circle hooks), as well as the rock jetties around Point Lookout. Anglers are taking lots of Spanish mackerel, with some bluefish and some nice cobia rounding out the opportunities. Crabbing remains good.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, Steve Chaconas/National Bass Guides, Mike Dudash/Eagle Aquatics, River and Trail Outfitters, Aqualand Marina, and White’s Ferry.