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About the Basin: Monocacy Aqueduct

The Monocacy Aqueduct on the right. Trees on the left. Green grass in the foreground. The Monocacy Aqueduct has a storied past. In its long history, it was used as an important transportation route for goods, goods, animals, and arsenals. Placed at the mouth of the Monocacy River, it was a vital passageway during times of peace and war. Thanks to a recent stabilization and reconstruction effort by the National Park Service, you can still see the structure as it was originally constructed almost two centuries ago.

The aqueduct spans 560 feet across the Monocacy River, connecting the 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal towpath from Cumberland, MD to Washington, D.C. The trail on the canal is flat and easy, making it especially nice for families with bikes, strollers, and bike trailers.

A boat ramp at the Monocacy side of the aqueduct is the final exit point for boaters on the Monocacy Scenic Water Trail and a popular entrance point for anglers.

There is ample parking and a restroom available should you need it.

Learn more about the history of the largest aqueduct on the C&O Canal on Saturday, July 27. Jim Cummins, retired ICPRB Aquatic Biologist, will lead a hike along the towpath as part of ICPRB’s Walk in the Woods series. We will learn more about the fascinating social and environmental history of this area. Find more information on ICPRB’s Events page.

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Potomac River Fishing Report – July 12, 2019

Little Girl Fishing at Little Seneca Lake

Mountain trout streams in the western part of the basin are clearing. Management areas are fishing well. Be mindful of the white miller hatches occurring on many streams.

The North Branch is high and stained. The Shenandoah is in somewhat better shape, and the area downstream of Bentonville is giving up smallmouth bass.

The upper Potomac is stained and carrying some debris. The few reports from the area were reporting some smallmouth bass and catfish catches. So0me anglers reported taking some smallmouth downstream of Brunswick.

In the District of Columbia, the stained water is also carrying some debris from the storms. Catfish and a few striped bass were taken at Fletcher’s Boathouse. Bridge pilings are holding some largemouth bass and catfish. Anglers are having some success at the Washington Channel dock pilings and the grass beds off the War College wall. Anglers have been finding largemouth bass at Blue Plains.

Anglers are targeting grass beds in the tidal river mainstem and creeks. Bass are a focus in the grasses. Catfish are found on docks and pilings. Dark colored lures and chatterbaits will assist with catches in the dirty water. Snakeheads are nesting at the shallow  heads of tidal creeks on both sides of the river.

The river clears somewhat downstream of the Route 301 bridge, where anglers are trolling or chumming for striped bass, white perch, and blue catfish.

Near the river’s mouth, stripers are being taken at the channel edges near Piney point and St. Georges by trolling and chumming. Point Lookout also is giving up stripers. Some stripers are being taken by casting at the shoreline in low light. White perch croaker, and spot also are available. Crabbing is good.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is cautioning anglers about fishing in the warm waters for a species that is having population issues.

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: Mallow’s Bay, the Graveyard Teeming with Life

An iconic spot on the Potomac River recently acquired a new name. The ghost fleet of Mallows Bay is now known as the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary thanks to its new designation by NOAA. It is the first such sanctuary in almost two decades. Kayak alongside a sunken ship barely sticking out of the water at Mallows Bay

On the Maryland side of the Potomac, just south of Washington, D.C., historic ships sit at the bottom of the river like an apocalyptic scene in a war movie. Mallow’s Bay is the final resting place for almost 200 boats that cover two centuries of history. Paddleboarders and kayakers alike feel a sense of magic while floating through the water, knowing that at any given time they are only inches from rich history. As the largest concentration of shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere, there is nary a spot in the bay where there is not a ship decaying on the floor below. These salvaged, and then sunk, ships are now home to a wide variety of fish, crustaceans, and aquatic vegetation. Some ships have created islands where osprey nest and crabs skitter across the sand.

The next few years will most likely see many changes for Mallows Bay. Possible plans for the area include paddle-in campsites, hiking trails, interpretative signage and additional public access amenities. Designation as a National Marine Sanctuary will only increase the speed and intensity of the additions and the public exposure it receives. These changes will bring their own benefits, but in the meantime, now is a great time to visit this primitive and isolated area. Take advantage of the quiet, meditative bay with the beautiful, sunken boats.

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About the Basin: Pyrotechnics on the Potomac

Celebrating Independence Day with fireworks is almost as old as the country itself. Fireworks were used to mark the occasion a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

We continue to celebrate our independence with grand pyrotechnic displays in the sky. There are many options throughout the area to enjoy a magnificent show. Here are just a few:

George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Virginia (June 28 and 29) – Take this special opportunity to enjoy a piece of history after dark. Special tours, musical performances, and games will be followed by a patriotic fireworks display overlooking the Potomac River.

Dumfries, Virginia (June 28-30) – Known as the “Not on the 4th” Fireworks, this annual display is launched from a barge on the Potomac River and organized by a local restaurant.

Colonial Beach, Virginia (July 4) – Auto races, parades, and children’s activities will be part of the town’s festivities. A star-spangled fireworks display will emanate from the municipal pier and over the Potomac River.

Washington, D.C. (July 4) – This year’s theme of “A Salute to America” honors the armed forces with a speech from President Trump, special tributes, flyovers, and military demonstrations. There will be a free concert with Carole King, Vanessa Williams, and other big names in the business. A massive display of fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park shortly after 9:00 pm. The new location for the fireworks display will mean restrictions for boat traffic in the river, so please plan accordingly.

Sharpsburg, Maryland (July 6) – The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will be playing at the Antietam National Battlefield in a “Salute to Independence” performance.

Kayakers paddle the Potomac River in front of the Washington Monument.

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Potomac Fishing Report – June 28, 2019

Trout continue to bite in the western streams, mountain streams of the Shenandoah, and the North Branch and Savage.

The Shenandoah mainstem and its forks are giving up some nice smallmouth bass and catfish. Some algae is beginning to appear in spots.

The upper Potomac is in good shape, with reports of some nice smallmouth bass and catfish around Dams 4 and 5. As water levels slowly decline, fish may concentrate during the day in deeper ledges and rock gardens. Bank fishing with topwater lures will be more productive at dawn and dusk. Catfish can be found in any deep hole or channel with cut bait.

In the District of Columbia, anglers are finding lots of catfish at bridge pilings and deeper channels. Anglers are taking largemouth bass off the War College wall and adjacent grass. Some smaller striped bass have been caught as well. Downstream bass are being caught with crankbaits and plastics at Blue Plains and Fox Ferry point.

Bass are being found in the few main channel grass beds, piers, and other wood structure. Grass beds near the mouth of Mattawoman Creek are producing some nice fish. Snakeheads are breeding at the heads of tidal creeks, and appear to be spawning even in areas without grass, where they defend bald patches of creek bottom.

Near the Route 301 Bridge, anglers are working the shipping channel, trolling, chumming, and jigging for striped bass. Chum slicks also bring blue catfish. The area continues to see very low salinity, average clarity, and a larger than normal dead zone of low oxygen is predicted. As temperatures rise, the stripers—especially larger fish—can exhaust themselves when being caught in the warmer water, Maryland Department of Natural Resources is cautioning anglers about fishing in the warm waters for a species that is having population issues.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are continuing jigging, chumming and trolling for striped bass on the  channel edges from Piney Point to St. Georges Island, with blue catfish in the mix. Shallow water fishing has yet to pick up. And anglers continue to wait for the arrival of croaker and spot. White perch are everywhere, and crabbing continues to be pretty 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.