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About the Basin: Piscataway Creek

Piscataway Creek

We’re switching gears for this week’s About the Basin. Instead of extolling the virtues of a nature reserve or state park, we’ll be travelling down a short stream just south of Washington, D.C. called Piscataway Creek and discovering all the natural and historical treasures it has to offer.
Beginning just north of Rosaryville, Maryland, the Piscataway runs just 4.5 miles long. The headwaters pass through Piscataway Creek Stream Valley Park. This park is difficult to access and has few trails. However, if you are in the area, stop by Cosca Regional Park. The main feature of this park is Lake Cosca, which runs into Butler Branch, a tributary of Piscataway Creek. Boat rentals and overnight camping are available in this 690-acre park near Clinton, Md.
About the time Piscataway Creek flows under Indian Head Highway (Route 210), it opens-up into an embayment that provides a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, boating, fishing, and educational adventures. The Piscataway Creek Trail can be found on the north side of the embayment. The highlight of this park is a short, easy hike with beautiful views of the river. Just west of the trail is Fort Washington Marina which offers two boat ramps and lots of parking.
Beyond the recreational opportunities, this area is rich with history. The mouth of the river is directly across from George Washington’s Mount Vernon and is largely protected because of its view of this historic piece of land. But long before George Washington dug a hoe into the ground, the Native Americans considered the area a special place. Many organizations work to preserve the history of this creek and its embayment.
On the west side of the marina is Fort Washington Park, one of the few forts still in its original form along the east coast of the United States. An important Potomac River stronghold, this fort showcases how it has adapted to the advances in artillery, ships, and warfare over the past two centuries.
Across the creek from the fort is National Colonial Farm at Piscataway Park, managed by the Accokeek Foundation. In addition to a boat ramp, hiking trails, arboretum, and forest restoration projects, the park hosts a living history farm from the colonial period. Visit the farm to learn what it was like to live as a middle-class family before the American revolution (spoiler alert: they didn’t have wifi!).
Just west of National Colonial Farm is Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm, an environmental center focused on sustainable agriculture and cultural heritage. Most of the farm’s programs are for local students and teachers, but the center occasionally opens to the public for special events, such as last Saturday’s Pinot on the Potomac.
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Potomac Fishing Report, June 7, 2019

Children with fishing rods lined up along the side of a canal. Trout anglers are doing well in the managed areas. Some nice trout are being taken in a segment of the North Branch Potomac. Sulphurs and caddisflies are hatching in those areas, and streamers are working as well.

Many areas of the upper Potomac remain near bank full and are carrying some stain. Smallmouth bass and sunfish will be nearer the bank in the morning and evening, and moving to deeper ledges and rock gardens when the sun is up. The area between Lander and Brunswick is giving up some nice smallmouth bass, walleye, and the occasional musky. The North Fork and mainstem Shenandoah is fishing nicely for smallmouth bass.

In the District of Columbia, grass beds are beginning to emerge, although the fisherman’s friend, Eurasian milfoil, is yet to establish. Grass beds at the War College are giving up some largemouth bass and the occasional striped bass. Area fridge pilings, docks, and wood structure are giving up a lot of catfish and some largemouth bass. Bass are being found in the Blue Plains outfall.

The mainstem Potomac downstream of Washington lacks its summer grass beds, but the tidal creeks on both sides of the river have lily pads and grasses that are holding fish. Morning low tides will compress the beds, and fish can be teased out by getting plastics to the edges. Fish can also be found in structure near the beds. Monster blue catfish can be found in the channel around Fort Washington, but can be taken in shallows in many places along the river. Leesylvania State Park is another good spot to start from.

Downstream, anglers are jigging, chumming and trolling for striped bass on the channel edges near the Harry Nice Bridge, as well as some croaker. The same scenario is occurring at channel edges from Piney Point to St. Georges Island. Many blue catfish can be taken from the unusually fresh (not salty) waters. Shallow water fishing has yet to pick up, so the focus is on trolling and chumming from boats. 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, National Bass Guides, River and Trail Outfitters, Aqualand Marina, and White’s Ferry.

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Potomac River Fishing Report, 5/31/2019

Trout fishing remains good in the catch and release area of the North Branch Potomac. Shenandoah valley trout streams are reported in good shape as well. The region is experiencing some heavy hatches of mayflies and Sulphur stoneflies.

Upper Potomac River levels are stable and the smallmouth bass are biting. Early morning and evening fishing has been productive for topwater fishing. During the day, fish the deeper current breaks and ledges protected by shade. Good catches have been reported in the Lander and Brunswick areas.

The metropolitan Potomac is fishing well. The lack of grass beds has anglers focusing on structure, such as bridge pilings, docks, and submerged wood. Good catches of largemouth bass and channel catfish are reported, along with a few striped bass. The Virginia embayments downstream of Washington are holding some large snakeheads, some of which are busy guarding their young and attacking perceived threats (lures). Lilly pads and other vegetation in Mattawoman Creek are holding bass.

Near the Route 301 Bridge, anglers are trolling for striped bass in the channel edge.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are targeting the channel edges from Piney Point to St. Georges Island and the river’s mouth. Most anglers are chumming or trolling with bucktails and spoons. Shallows fishing has not picked up, and anglers are awaiting the arrival of croaker for the season. Blue catfish are a common catch in the area, probably helped by the continued low salinity. Crabbing is very good.

Follow #PotomacFishingReport on major social media platforms to get your weekly update.

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.

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About the Basin: Frederick Municipal Forest

When is a forest more than a forest? When it is managed specifically as the source of drinking water for an entire city. Hence, Frederick Municipal Forest is more than a forest. It provides clean, fresh drinking water for the 70,000 people who live downstream. Do you need more of a reason to love it? The well-maintained labyrinth of trails is a locally known secret to many hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts.

“The Frederick Watershed is a gem, a forest that protects the water supply and critical habitat for 22 threatened and endangered species, while providing a backcountry experience just outside the city,” says Jenny Willoughby, Sustainability Manager for the City of Frederick.

A wooden sign in front of a forest. The sign reads: You are now entering the municipal forest of the City of Frederick.Located along the ridge of Catoctin Mountain in western Maryland, the forest is accessible off Gambrill Park Road. It is also a short drive from the charming town of Frederick, Maryland. Although camping is not allowed in the Frederick Municipal Forest, Gambrill State Park is just down the road and provides a variety camping options.

Join the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and the City of Frederick for a guided hike through the Frederick Municipal Forest on Saturday, June 8th.  The hike is part of ICPRB’s Walk in the Woods Series and the City of Frederick’s Sustainability Committee’s Green Lecture Series.

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ICPRB Quarterly Meeting to be held June 4

ICPRB will be holding it’s Quarterly Business Meeting on June 4, 2019, at the the Lodge at Little Seneca Creek in Boyds, MD. The public is welcome to attend, but space is limited, so please RSVP. An agenda and more information can be found on the Business Meetings webpage. Commissioners will discuss the plans for ICPRB’s 80th anniversary and receive an update on the Potomac Basin Comprehensive Plan.