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.


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 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.