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Potomac River Fishing Report – August 2, 2019

A little boy is holding up a fishing pole with a fish on the hook. Mountain trout streams are in good shape for this time of year. Anglers are matching insect hatches or using streamers. The same holds true for the North Branch Potomac. The Shenandoah is running a little low in the upper reaches, but the river is producing some nice smallmouth bass and catfish.

The upper Potomac is best in the mornings and evenings, and anglers are taking smallmouth bass off poppers and other topwater baits. Daytime action is in the shaded ledges and rock gardens near the bottom. The Brunswick section is fishing slow for bass, but catfish are biting well. Washington Channel and the war college wall and grass beds consistently hold bass and cats.

Downstream, main channel grass beds hold bass. The heads of tidal creeks hold bass and are loaded with snakeheads. Lilly beds at Mattawoman Creek and other areas are holding fish. The deep channel off Fort Washington lighthouse is a great place to target large blue catfish.

From the Route 301 Bridge downstream, anglers are finding striped bass, a lot of Spanish mackerel, spot, and perch.  Channel edge between Piney Point and St. Georges. Available spot are being used to live line for stripers, as sell as the rock jetties around Point Lookout. Anglers are taking lots of mackerel, with some bluefish and a few cobia rounding out the opportunities. Crabbing remains 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.

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About the Basin: Potomac State Forest

Archery, hiking, hunting, fishing, equestrian trails, mountain biking are popular in the Potomac State Forest. Winter sports like cross country skiing and snowmobiling are also a possibility.

Don’t expect to see many people enjoying these opportunities as this rural state forest competes with many state parks in the region for outdoor entertainment opportunities. Even in the height of summer, you will feel like the trails and creeks exist only for you.

The cool, shaded streams make for excellent trout fishing. The majority of the forest is a Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area (Group II) which means an angler can possess up to 5 trout during the summer months (check local licensing restrictions).

A 3-D archery range offers the opportunity to practice your aim at 30 life-size 3-dimensional targets.

Potomac State Forest’s claim to fame is that it has one of the highest elevations of any Maryland state forest. At 3,200 feet, Backbone Mountain reigns over this small state forest in the headwaters of the Potomac River in Western Maryland. It also provides for challenging, and rewarding, hiking trails.

One such trail is the Lostland Run Trail. It is a challenging hike with varied terrain and many stream crossings. With appropriate preparation, this trail will reward you with beautiful views, wildlife sightings, waterfalls, and fun swimming holes. Keep your eye on the trail blazes though, as they are easy to miss.

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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.