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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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ICPRB Thanks 2022 Interns

ICPRB would like to say thank you to our three 2022 interns. From graphic design, to computer modeling, to HABs field work, they learned a lot and had a great time doing it! Hear about their summer spent at ICPRB:

Sign up for our newsletter or check out our Jobs page for future internship or employment opportunities.

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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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ICPRB is Hiring

We are hiring for an Aquatic Ecologist I (Early Career Ecologist) position.

The ICPRB seeks an enthusiastic, detail-orientated, full-time early career aquatic ecologist for its aquatic habitats program.  The individual will support ICPRB staff in producing data, information, and reports about the condition of non-tidal streams and rivers in the Potomac River basin and neighboring watersheds, including the larger Chesapeake Bay basin.

Learn more on our Jobs page.

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Fishing Report – August 5, 2022

Some Fisheries News…

Striped Bass Closure

Little boy sitting on a bench reaching for bait. A lake is in the background.The striped bass fishery on the tidal Potomac mainstem is closed until August 21.  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.

Tournaments

Anglers looking for a little elbow room in busy parts of the river may benefit from knowing when and where organized tournaments occur. Maryland DNR has you covered with its tournament fishing page, which includes information and a listing of sanctioned tournaments. It can also be helpful in knowing where increased fishing pressure has occurred.

Maryland is considering some changes to fishing regulations. Public comment is invited.

Reports

The Shenandoah systems’ North and South forks are clear and fishable. Some isolated storms have held water levels steady, and anglers are wading to take some nice smallmouth bass. The North Fork is productive in the stretch from Chapman’s landing to Woodstock. The South Fork is doing very well. Anglers will be rewarded by being on-site at daybreak or dusk to take advantage of the low light and cooler temperatures. Carp, sunfish, and catfish also are biting. This time of year, smallmouth bass strikes tend to be from smaller fish, but the big ones are out there. Trout streams are a little tougher as water is at its lowest and warmest of the season.

Anglers on the South Branch Potomac are finding some nice smallmouth bass and catfish in deeper holes around Petersburg.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are fishing well in the trout management areas. Water temperatures are increasing. The clear water demands a stealthy approach to get to the wary fish. The ICPRB staff are continuing to cooperatively monitor fish and conditions in the North Branch to inform efforts to improve the productivity of these fisheries.

The upper Potomac River continues to fish well. Good catches of smallmouth- and some largemouth bass are being taken in the segment from Seneca to Brunswick, with the mostly smaller fish typical of this time of year. The slow bite demands that anglers pay attention and use accurate casts and slow retrieves. Early morning and dusk are favored by the fish, which seek shaded areas to rest during the day. Another report focuses on the segment from Edwards Ferry to Dickerson and the mouth of the Monocacy River. The area has benefitted from some localized rain, holding water temperatures in the low- to mid-80s. Smallmouth bass can be targeted at large rocks in the channel, fallen trees, and grass beds that create eddies or other diversions in the current. Anglers should use small plastic baits such as hellgrammite imitations and other creature baits. Smaller fish are common, but smallmouth in the 14- to 18-inch range are being found. Taking nice fish requires accurate casts and slow working of the lure. The segment also has plenty of channel and flathead catfish. Live bait is key to taking these fish, especially the flatheads, which can grow easily to 20 pounds. Whites Ferry, Lander, and Point of Rocks provide good access, although navigation by boat can be difficult in stretches due to low river levels. Wading, canoeing, and kayaking provide more territory to anglers.

Metro area has waters with good visibility and temperatures in the mid-80s. Anglers in the District are targeting bridge pilings, docks, and other structure. Small crankbaits and soft plastic tubes and buzzbaits are being thrown at the pilings of Key and Long Bridges for smallmouth, largemouth and striped bass. Anglers are finding fish in the Pentagon Lagoon and the grass, shoals and drop-off in Washington Channel. Some bass and snakeheads are being taken in the lower Anacostia, which is running muddy. Catfish are biting cut or live bait on the channel bottoms and deeper holes.

The tidal Potomac is in typical summer mode with temperatures in the mid-80s, and fishing can be slow. The daytime heat is taxing for both anglers and fish, so moving water in the early morning and late evening is the best time. Blue and channel catfish are lurking in  deeper holes everywhere. Grass, mostly hydrilla, continues to fill in, although the larger grass beds have developed from Mattawoman Creek downstream. Mattawoman beds and spatterdock are holding largemouth bass and snakeheads, and downstream creeks, including Pomonkey, Chicamuxen, Quantico, and Pohick Bay are producing bass and snakeheads. Snakeheads are spawning at the heads of tidal creeks in shallow water with heavy grass, and adult fish will strike at threats to their schooling young. Anglers continue to target the edges of grass beds in higher water with crank baits, swim baits, and soft plastics. Some nice topwater bites use floating frogs dragged across the tops of the beds.

Fishing activity around the 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 are moving into the embayments. There are some spot and other baitfish are in good numbers. Things are expected to pick up later in the month. Crabbing is improving.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are finding some spot, white perch, bluefish, and some striped bass in the Maryland embayments. Channel and blue catfish are biting in the embayments. Some nice catches of Spanish mackerel are being reported.

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: Rocky Gap State Park

Rocky Gap State Park

Flintstone, MD

Rocky Gap State Park is situated in the cool mountains of Allegany County in western Maryland. It is most well-known for the Rocky Gap Casino and Resort, a privately owned and operated venue that is popular for events and conferences. However, Lake Habeeb is the real jewel of the park. Known as the “bluest water in Maryland,” the 243-acre lake is popular among anglers, kayakers, and hikers.

The five-mile trail around Lake Habeeb is the highlight of the hiking scene at Rocky Gap. The moderate trail follows the perimeter of the lake while winding through forests and over foot bridges. For a more challenging hike, take the 5-mile roundtrip on Evitt’s Homesite Trail which climbs up Evitt’s Mountain. The one-quarter mile Touch of Nature Trail is perfect for a short easy stroll to an accessible fishing pier. Visit the Lemel Bucy Family Cemetery by taking a short stroll from the Touch of Nature parking lot. Here you’ll find a bit of the land’s history with several gravestones from the Civil War era.

The day-use area provides several options for large get togethers and family day trips to the beach. There are picnic tables, playgrounds, and grills, as well as Hawk’s Nest Café and a ranger station. Canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards are available for rent during the season. The park can reach capacity on weekends and holidays, so check their Twitter account before heading out. Don’t forget to bring Fido in on the fun. Pets are permitted in the day-use area and in many of the camping areas.

The nature center provides a variety of activities. Especially noteworthy activities encourage anyone to experience the outdoors—regardless of their background or economic status—by borrowing equipment like boats (during Free Paddle events) and fishing equipment. The “tackle loaner” program lets any kid try their hand at fishing by borrowing all the necessary equipment free-of-charge from the nature center. Other ranger-led activities include birding, yoga, trivia nights, an owl-pellet breakdown, and night sounds. An aviary is available to explore by appointment or during limited open hours. The Friends of Rocky Gap State Park Facebook page lists many of the park’s activities.

Fishing is a 24/7 activity at the park. Anglers at Lake Habeeb go after panfish, trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, pumpkinseed, and more. Artificial habitats have been added to the lake to improve fish habitat.

The campground boasts 278 campsites with a variety of options like tent-camping, RVs, mini-cabins and yurts. If you’re planning a family trip with family or friends who are less-than-excited about camping, check out the Easter Hill Chalet—the fully furnished house accommodates 8 people and provides a large deck, gas fireplaces, and an outdoor campfire area.

The area of Rocky Gap State Park is the ancestral home of the Shawandasse Tula and Massawomeck Peoples.

People play on a sandy beach along Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park.

Photo Credit: Beach at Rocky Gap State Park (MD) July 2016, Ron Cogswell (Flickr)

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ICPRB Fishing Report – July 29, 2022

Some Fisheries News…

Striped Bass Closure

The striped bass fishery on the tidal Potomac mainstem is closed until August 21. All Maryland areas of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, including on the Potomac, will be closed to any targeting of striped bass – including catch-and-release and charter boats–through July 31. 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.

Tournaments

Anglers looking for a little elbow room in busy parts of the river may benefit from knowing when and where organized tournaments occur. Maryland DNR has you covered with its tournament fishing page, which includes information and a listing of sanctioned tournaments. It can also be helpful in knowing where increased fishing pressure has occurred.

Maryland is considering some changes to fishing regulations. Public comment is invited.

Reports

The Shenandoah system has decent water levels nd the clear waters are producing small- and largemouth bass, sunfish, and carp. Channel catfish are found in deeper holes on the bottom. The South Fork is fishing very well, with water temperature at bout 74 degrees. The weekend’s overcast skies will help produce fish, and lower water temperatures will help keep them active. Early morning and dusk are the best times. Trout streams are running clear and productive.

Anglers on the South Branch Potomac continue to find some nice fish in the deeper holes, although the fishing will get tougher as water levels continue to fall.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are fishing well, and the break in temperature should help keep these cold-water fisheries active. 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. While river levels may fall, the cooler weather should keep water temperatures steady.

The upper Potomac River continue to please anglers with nice catches of smallmouth and largemouth bass, sunfish, and channel and flathead catfish. Fishing is productive through much of the upper Potomac. Smallmouth bass are dispersed throughout the system. Dawn and dusk are the best times to fish the warm, 82-degree waters. Bass are being taken with small plastic tubes and stick worms fished very slowly. The best targets are boulders and rock gardens in the middle of the river. Eddy lines and shaded deeper spots are holding fish. Flathead and channel catfish are taken from the bottom of deeper holes with live or cut bait. Taking a 15-20 pound flathead from the upper river is an exciting experience.

Whites Ferry, Lander, and Point of Rocks provide good access, although navigation by boat can be difficult in stretches due to low river levels. Wading, canoeing, and kayaking provide more territory to anglers.

Metro area anglers continue to catch some fish in this summertime pattern without much change from last week. The Key Bridge area remains productive for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Bridge pilings, wood structure, and riprap are the best targets. Soft plastics and crankbaits dropped at bridge pilings score some bass. The Washington channel’s grass and channel drop-off always is a good bet. Docks and structure on both sides of the river are holding bass. The mouth of the Anacostia are holding some bass and snakeheads.

The tidal Potomac is in summer mode, with fair visibility and water temperatures of about 85 degrees. Anglers are finding bass at National Harbor and the Spoils nearby. Blue catfish are taking cut or live bait from the bottom of deeper holes, along with some channel catfish. Large blue cats are found in the channel off Fort Washington. Mattawoman Creek’s Lilly pads and spatterdock will hold bass and some snakeheads. Pohick Bay embayments are fishing well for bass in the beds of aquatic grass, and snakeheads can be targeted at the grasses growing at the heads of tidal creeks. Kayakers can cover a lot of areas unavailable to larger craft. Chicamuxen and Aquia creeks are fishing well. Dawn and dusk are good times to fish, and moving water is greatly preferred. Anglers are targeting wood and other structure with soft plastics fished very slowly, and concentration will reward anglers in feeling the light bite. Grass beds are hard hit by anglers, but are very productive. Fish the edges with crankbaits and soft plastics in lower water. Drag hollow frogs over the top of beds in high water. Buzzbaits and chatterbaits can bring strikes along grass edges.

Fishing activity around the Colonial Beach continues to be slow. The closed striped bass season has  anglers fishing for white perch spot, and a few croaker. A growing number of sea nettles are showing up, and there have been no recent reports of dolphins. Crabbing is improving.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers continue to find a few cobia around Smith Point. Anglers continue to catch white perch, and spot. Some anglers are chumming for bluefish.. Some Spanish mackerel are being taken. Blue catfish are always biting live or cut bait. Crabbing is getting better.

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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A Watershed Moment for Swimming in the District’s Waters

On June 8, 2022, the U.S. House passed HR 7776 that would authorize the federal government to conduct a feasibility study for recreational access, including “enclosed swimming areas,” in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

An historical look at swimming in the Potomac River

Human contact with the Potomac River predates recorded history and has been continuous through the present day throughout the basin with the exception of the waters of the District of Columbia.

Photo Credit: Muriel Quackenbush in surf chair at Wash. Bathing Beach.1922 (LOC)

The river in the District has long suffered the strain of a concentrated population and the subsequent pollution it creates.

But the Potomac River has shown its resilience and times are changing. The U.S. House recently passed a bill that authorizes a feasibility study of enclosed swimming areas in the District’s rivers. The D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment is looking at updating regulations, water quality standards, and monitoring practices. D.C. Water’s massive infrastructure rebuild, the Clean Rivers Project, is expected to reduce combined sewage overflow by 96%. Organizations like Potomac Riverkeeper Network and Anacostia Riverkeeper are working hard to gather the data as well as change the tide of public opinion for swimming in D.C. waterways. Here at ICPRB, we know the public is curious because we get asked throughout the summer, “Is it Safe to Swim in the Potomac“?

It has been decades in the making, but it is apparent that we are approaching a watershed moment for swimming in District waters.

So, let’s explore a century of policies, engineering, and advocacy that got us to where we are today.

Photo Credit: Margaret Gass (LOC)

The growing population of the early 1900s used the waterway for waste disposal—human waste, industrial waste, agricultural waste—it all went in the river. As the population continued to increase, the tidal waters of the District grew increasingly worse. The tidal basin and other areas were popular swimming holes in the early part of the century until legislation restricting swimming began in the early 1930s. See below for a slideshow of photos highlighting the summer fun of the roaring ’20s

The population of the metropolitan area doubled in the 1940s, the same decade that ICPRB was established. The ICPRB’s first order of business was to collect data for the basin’s initial assessment.  ICPRB was tasked with answering the question, “How bad was it and why?” The study found that the vast majority of the river’s population was served by primary sewage treatment, which means that only solids were removed from raw sewage. The report also noted the importance of the river in people’s daily lives through recreation, fishing, and transportation.

A man stands in a boat, holding his nose. Across the river is an industrial complex with several smokestacks blowing smoke.

1953: Senator Wayne Morse holds his nose against the stench of the Potomac River near Georgetown. (ICPRB)

The 1950s opened with an ICPRB report that noted the entire river was unsafe for drinking, questionably safe for swimming upstream of Great Falls, questionably safe for recreation between Key Bridge and Haines Point, and the river downstream in the District was unsuitable for any purpose. A 1954 ICPRB report on DC-area water pollution helped inform a 1957 U.S. Public Health Service declaration that the Potomac in the District was “unsafe for swimming.” The report and pronouncement were important in leveraging authorization of public works and sewerage expansion that would begin to address the sewage problem.

In the 1960s, swimming and eating fish caught from river shore remained illegal, but the public continued to look toward the river. Lady Bird Johnson donated an elegant floating fountain that shot high up into the air in the Potomac River. During high winds the fountain was turned off due to fears the spray would douse the National Airport with cholera germs. The fountain was eventually deemed a public health hazard for spraying high levels of coliform bacteria onto the nearby park. Events like these increased public consciousness and activity. The decade saw the federal Water Pollution Control Act, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” and growing stewardship. Both federal and local laws were pushing for greater water quality.

Photo Credit: Mount Vernon (ICPRB)

The 1970s saw continuing improvements to water quality in the metropolitan area and nationwide with the passing of the Clean Water Act and later amendments. The act guided federal money and restoration efforts, primarily in improved sewage treatment. The era saw increased public interest and pressure for better water quality. Residents of the District wanted to be close to the river in ways that were still in practice both upstream and downstream. Yet, D.C. water quality, including huge annual mats of blue green algae, resulted in a water contact prohibition by the D.C. Council in 1971. The growing public interest in a healthier environment in the 1970s kept the pressure on to clean up metropolitan waters. Riverfront signage in D.C. and down to Mount Vernon warned people to avoid contact with the water and to wash pets that came in contact with it.

Lady Bird Johnson’s Potomac River fountain that was eventually deemed a public health hazard. (ICPRB)

Yet, there was hope. Annual algal mats declined during much of the decade, and largemouth bass returned to the river along with the return of bass guides who targeted D.C. waters.

Citizen interest in the river and the waterfront continued to build in the 1980s. The interest in the river’s health grew alongside interest in revitalizing the metro waterfronts and improved access. The effort was boosted by a National Marine Fisheries Service report on waterfront revitalization. The ICPRB, along with several federal agencies and some waterfront businesses formed the Washington Area Waterfront Action Group (WAWAG). The ad hoc organization sought to leverage revitalization interest along government-controlled land and sought ways to create a better public experience along the waterfront.

The WAWAG worked to transform the moribund Washington waterfront in many aspects. One was a task force to address swimming and other water contact recreation. The group held a press conference on bathing beaches and created a list of possible sites for bathing beaches along the metro river. The group’s efforts helped inspire other efforts.  Windsurfers in the District were angered that the boards were considered water contact, and so they held a press conference in which a number of windsurfers dressed in business suits and brought attaché cases aboard. This televised water rally proved that windsurfing was not necessarily a water contact sport, similar to canoeing and kayaking. A 1982 WAWAG report offered suggestion for potential “bathing areas” in the District.

Map of possible bathing beaches from WAWAG report.

Potential swimming sites shown in WAWAG’s report.

The beginning of the Potomac Riverfests in D.C., and similar efforts in Alexandria and other communities became annual affairs.

Rambling Raft festivals were begun in D.C. Unfortunately, a resurgence in summer algae blooms and other considerations halted some of these events.

The wave created by WAWAG and other groups continued to grow, and demand for swimming remained an issue. In the early 2000s, ICPRB was approached by the Nation’s Triathlon, which was creating an event in D.C. The ICPRB helped direct them to the proper officials in D.C. government to get a permit for a swimming section off the National Mall. The permit required them to monitor the water for a month before the event to ensure acceptable water quality. The swim portion was cancelled several times during the event’s several years of running due to the stringent water quality requirement.

Map of possible bathing beaches from PRK report.

Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s Swimmable Potomac Report 2022

Now, Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRN), Anacostia Riverkeeper, and other groups conduct weekly water quality monitoring to promote swimming and river recreation. Many of the test sites get the swimming “thumbs up” when the data is published at www.theswimguide.org. Just like the WAWAG report in the 1980s, the recent report published by PRN, Swimmable Potomac Report 2022, proposed several areas for public beaches in the future.

As the health of the river has improved over the eight decades since ICPRB was created, ICPRB has worked alongside government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the public to increase access and stewardship to our Nation’s River. We look forward to seeing D.C. residents and visitors take a cooling dip in the river on a hot summer day. As Lord David Attenborough says, “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

  • Two women play leapfrog in old fashioned bathing suits along the tidal basin / Potomac River.
    Photo credit: Library of Congress
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Registration Open for 2022 PFAS Conference

Register today for the 2022 Potomac River Conference: A Conversation on PFAS on September 22, 2022.

Join the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin for a virtual conference on the state of the science, policy, technology, and the future of PFAS in the Potomac River basin. See the full agenda on our Events page or register here.

REGISTER HERE