Pointing pollution fingers, cleaning up coal plants, pipelines, jet skiing seniors, and more in the Potomac News Reservoir.
Trout fishing remains good in the upper basin, where the water has cleared somewhat and water temperatures have fallen into the low 70s in some streams. Some nice trout are being taken in the North Branch Potomac management area, although the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is recommending staying off the upper Potomac until water levels decrease. It is looking like that may be awhile.
There are some reports of growing algae blooms in the mainstem Shenandoah, but the river is still giving up some nice smallmouth bass and sunfish.
Anglers are finding some nice bass fishing the areas around Lander and Brunswick, Md. Fishing shallower areas from the shore in the morning and the evening are productive. The ledges and deeper structure are the target when the sun is high.
Tidal Potomac anglers are not so affected by river levels, but the water remains stained, and aquatic plant beds have decreased. In the District, anglers are taking largemouth bass and some striped bass from the outfall area at Blue Plains. Bridge pilings and the Washington Channel grass beds and seawall are giving up some bass. Anglers also are taking some bass at the mouth of the Anacostia, as well as some snakeheads.
Further downstream, main channel grass beds are good targets and there are reports of some very large blue catfish being taken from the channel off Fort Washington. The back ends of tidal creeks ar harboring grass beds that are productive for bass and snakeheads.
Near Morgantown, Md., anglers are trolling and jigging for striped bass in clearing water. Spot are running, and there are a few croaker as well.
Near the river’s mouth, anglers are finding a lot of striped bass at the St. George Island channel. Some anglers are trolling, but the best fish are coming to those who are live lining spot, which are thick at Colton’s point and the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. Catches of croaker and perch are improving, and crabbing is improving.
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, River and Trail Outfitters, Aqualand Marina, and White’s Ferry.
How the Potomac Flats became the Tidal Basin
About the Basin – August 17, 2018
The Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. is probably most notable for its breathtaking cherry trees that drip soft pink blossoms into the water as spring emerges. However, there is more to this appendage of the Potomac River than meets the eye.
In the mid-1800’s, commerce in the popular shipping ports in the District was hampered by silt build-up along the shores. It was also a health issue. The silt build-up, known as Potomac Flats, sat with stagnant raw sewage and was a breeding ground for malaria-laden mosquitoes.
Authorities decided something needed to be done with this unhealthy eyesore in the Nation’s capital. Congress agreed it should be enjoyed by the people of the city, ordering it as “forever held and used as a park for the recreation and pleasure of people.”
Around the turn of the century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed a plan to dredge the river, create the Washington Channel (the stream of water that runs through the basin and then between Potomac Park and the mainland), and dump the dredged silt onto the remaining part of Potomac Flats. This created the East Potomac Park portion of the basin and the modern shape of the Tidal Basin that we all know and love.
To keep silt, raw sewage, and other unwanted problems from building up, USACE installed a gate at each entrance of the basin. During high tide, the gate at the river allows water to enter the basin while the gate at the channel closes, filling the basin. As the tide ebbs, the gate to the Washington Channel opens while the gate at the Potomac River closes. Silt and other pollutants quickly drain through the channel. The Library of Congress has some diagrams of how the Tidal Basin functions to prevents stagnation and all the problems that come with it, such as algae growth, funky smells, and silt build-up.
This engineering marvel ensures that visitors from around the corner and around the world can enjoy the beautiful sites of the Tidal Basin. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial can all be seen along the 2-mile loop around the basin. Walking and running along basin trails are popular activities for both locals and tourists alike. Pedal boats, available for rent, can provide a unique perspective of the natural beauty in this wholly man-made structure.
Cunningham Falls State Park
About the Basin, August 10, 2018
Cunningham Falls State Park, near Thurmont, Maryland, has many treasures. It is known for being the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland. Big Hunting Creek, one of Maryland’s premier trout streams, runs through the park. Swimming in the lake is a summertime tradition for many families, both near and far.
The park has many miles of beautiful hiking trails, but the most popular trail is the short, forested hike to the falls. It is stroller-friendly and great for all ages. The falls have a viewing boardwalk with benches. After enjoying the falls, head back down to lake, grab a picnic table, spread your towel on the sand and spend the rest of the day enjoying food, friends, and family while cooling off in the lake. Grills are available on a first-come first-served basis.
Check out the park map to find some primo catch-and-release fishing spots in the park.
The park is separated into two sections, the William Houck Area and the Manor Area. Check your GPS carefully before heading out to make sure you are headed to the correct area for your intended adventure. Both areas have a campground.
This area has the hike to the falls, the swimming lake, and a concession stand that is open during the summer.
Come early on nice weekends because the park will temporarily close when they meet capacity.
Visit the Scales and Tales Aviary for an opportunity to get a close-up look at (mostly native) wildlife.
The Catoctin Mountain Furnace features a furnace that began operations around 1776. The furnace provided ammunition for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
Join park staff this Sunday, August 12, for Macroinvertebrate Mayhem (11am, South Beach Nature Center) where staff will lead a walk through a stream to discover what creatures live just below the surface.
Dyke Marsh jetty, flooding, river trash, oyster wars, black flies, and more in the Potomac News Reservoir.
One Basin, One Future: ICPRB Promotes a Sustainable Water Future
New report addresses water resources in the Potomac River basin for today, tomorrow, and the future.
The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin is proud to announce the publication of the Potomac River Basin Comprehensive Water Resources Plan. The Plan addresses issues of ensuring reliable drinking water supplies, improving water quality and ecological health, and sustainable land use management as it relates to water resources. It was compiled using a collaborative process that engaged diverse stakeholders that included representatives from different levels of government, regions of the basin, water use sectors, and nongovernmental organizations, and it recommends actions that each stakeholder group can take.
The Plan builds on existing state and local efforts and is intended to complement those efforts by paying particular attention to water resource issues of interstate- and/or basin-wide significance. It serves as a guide to the status of water resources in the basin and provides a basis for deciding how the needs of one water use can be accommodated while still providing for other uses. The report’s recommendations include greater information sharing, improved data collection, greater coordination among user groups, and identification of common goals.
The ICPRB will use the Plan to set priorities for its activities in coming years and hopes those activities will be a catalyst for the Plan’s implementation in collaboration with other stakeholders and the public. Looking ahead, ICPRB expects to periodically evaluate basin wide progress toward a vision of the Potomac River basin as a national model for water resources management that fulfills human and ecological needs for current and future generations.
The comprehensive planning effort was partially built on nearly five decades of experience working with Washington Metropolitan Area water suppliers to provide a safe, reliable water supply system for the region during extreme droughts without stressing the Potomac River, the major source of drinking water. The successful system has been continually enhanced through regular studies of demand, alternative water sources, threats to source water, and possible effects of climate change on the system. These experiences in cooperative research and decision-making have informed the water resources comprehensive plan.
“The Potomac basin has a history of collaborative efforts among the basin states. The Potomac River Basin Comprehensive Water Resources Plan can serve as a common platform for analyzing and prioritizing the efforts that can serve the public’s many interests while preserving the resource into the future,” said ICPRB Executive Director Carlton Haywood.
Fishing will be difficult and dangerous in the upper watershed, with high, fast, muddy water the norm. There were some catches of trout reported in parts of the North Fork Shenandoah and trout management areas along the Savage and North Brach Potomac. Smaller creeks should clear out earlier than the larger rivers.
Boating on the upper Potomac should be avoided, and bank fishermen are reporting some catches despite the opaque water. Fishing from the bank is a safer option, and in perhaps the only silver lining to the rain, water temperatures have cooled a few degrees.
In the District, anglers are taking some large catfish at Fletcher’s Boat House. Bridge pilings and other structure are giving up some largemouth bass and catfish. The Washington channel seawall has reports of bass, catfish, and some striped bass.
Grass beds in the tidal Potomac are greatly reduced due to poor growing conditions, but the beds are still a good place to find fish. The muddy conditions and reduced temperatures will require anglers to get baits as close to fish as possible. Morning low tides are a good time to probe the beds while targeting docks and other structure at higher tides. Some good bass have been taken at the Mattawoman Creek Lilly pads. Headwaters of tidal creeks should clear out a bit late in the weekend.
Aqualand Marina near Morgantown, Md. Is reporting catches of some croaker, small white perch, blue catfish and stripers. The water is quite murky from local rains.
Near the river’s mouth, anglers are chumming and live lining for stripers on the steep channel edges near St. George’s Creek and Tall Timbers. Small bluefish are coming into the area, delayed by the lower salinity. Crabbing is fair.
While it would be wise to avoid boating in the upper river, those who do should wear a life jacket and file a float plan of your whereabouts with friends or family. Use extreme caution boating the tidal river, which has a high level of large debris carried down from upriver and local creeks.
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, River and Trail Outfitters, and White’s Ferry.
The Black Panther on the Bottom of the Potomac
About the Basin
For 69 years a German submarine, known as U-1105, has sat at the bottom of the Potomac River.
Commissioned in June 1944, the submarine lived a short but eventful life. Serving as a wartime patrol near Ireland, it killed 32 men while disabling the British HMS Redmill. Less than a year later, Germany surrendered. The war was over.
U-1105 became a spoil of war as it was valuable for research and testing purposes. Nicknamed the Black Panther due to its “skin” of black synthetic rubber meant to evade sonar devices, the U.S. Navy soon acquired it to conduct research. Only a few years later the submarine took a 20-second trip to the abyss.
It remained forgotten in its watery grave for the next 40 years. Rediscovered in the 1980’s, the shipwreck site just off Piney Point, Maryland, soon became Maryland’s first historic shipwreck preserve and it is now part of NOAA’s National System of Marine Protected Areas.
Although the submarine is a tourist attraction for civilian divers, at 91 feet below the surface, it is considered a highly technical dive with a strong current and low visibility. For armchair adventurers, a video of the Black Panther is available on YouTube.
It is just one of several submarines with intriguing stories found on the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. Learn more about the fascinating history of the Black Panther on the Maryland Historical Trust website.
Cleanups, spills, oxygen improves, storm pollution, ICPRB job opening, and more in the Potomac News Reservoir.
About the Basin, Peculiar Potomac Edition
Last week’s About the Basin covered the Jennings Randolph Lake near Elk Garden, West Virginia. This week’s article takes a closer look at a geological phenomenon known as Waffle Rock. This interesting rock stands guard at the West Virginia Overlook above Jennings Randolph Lake.
This massive rock has a large waffle-pattern on one side. Some have claimed it is evidence of visitors from another planet, some say it is the scale pattern of a ginormous lizard, and others say it is just an interesting geological formation. We’re going with the “geological formation” theory.
Several hundred million years ago, according to ICPRB hydrogeologist, Jim Palmer, “Joints opened up in the soft sandstone and allowed iron rich water to seep into cracks and form cement around sand particles.” This cemented sand is highly weather resistant. Regular sandstone is not. The soft sandstone eroded away from the rock while the grid-like pattern of the hard sandstone remained, creating a waffle-y rock.
The rock was originally part of a larger formation that broke off some point in the past few hundred million years. It ended up near Shaw, West Virginia, the ill-fated town that is now at the bottom of Jennings Randolph Lake. The rock had geological (and, according to the story, sentimental) value. Before the lake was filled in during the early 1980’s, the rock was moved to its final resting place. It now welcomes tourists and locals alike to ponder the deeper things in life while overlooking the scenic Jennings Randolph Lake.