Some Fisheries News…
Striped Bass Closure
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.
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.
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.