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ICPRB Activates Drought Monitoring

Most of the drinking water consumed in the metropolitan area comes from the Potomac River, which is now in its driest part of the year. Low river flows caused the ICPRB Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac (CO-OP) to begin daily monitoring of river conditions this week. Decreased river flow at the Point of Rocks gage on the Potomac (upstream from drinking water intakes) triggers the first stage of CO-OP drought monitoring, where river flow and, drinking water withdrawals are collected and assessed daily. If conditions continue to worsen, estimates of future demands will be included in the daily assessment. Currently, Point of Rocks gage shows a flow of about 1.16 billion gallons per day. Current water withdrawals for the metropolitan area total about 443 million gallons per day.

The current low river conditions are not unusual for this time of year, and the increased monitoring by CO-OP occurs in many years. The probability that releases of stored water from upstream reservoirs is still small. The enhanced monitoring is a part of a robust system employed by water suppliers, state water managers, and ICPRB to ensure that the region has a reliable source of drinking water even during drought conditions.

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About the Basin: Michaux State Forest

The southern half of the 85,000+ acres known as Michaux State Forest is on the top edge of the Potomac River watershed near Gettysburg, Pa. The contiguous forestland encompasses several state parks and natural areas.

Michaux State Forest is part of Pennsylvania’s 1.2 million-acres of state forests, but it boasts a variety of “firsts” for forestry in the Keystone State, including the first tree nursery, the first forestry academy, the first wooden fire tower, the first steel fire tower.

Year-round recreation opportunities abound in Pennsylvania’s “cradle of forestry”. Areas for ATVs, hiking, fishing, boating, horse riding, mountain biking, and camping can be found throughout the park. During the colder months, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing are popular activities. Maps for most of these activities, plus an auto tour of the forest, are available online.

Michaux State Forest has 60 miles of nicely maintained trails, this includes 36 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

Several lakes and reservoirs offer a tranquil destination for anglers and boaters, including the Long Pine Run Reservoir. Several stocked trout streams offer the chance for excellent cold-water fishing.

Always check with the local authorities regarding permits for recreational activities.

 

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 30, 2019

Managed trout areas (catch and release) in western Maryland are running low and clear, and those areas, along with some mountain trout streams in Virginia are benefiting from the cooler weather and water temperatures. Streamers and terrestrial flies are drawing strikes.

The South Branch Potomac downstream of Franklin, W.Va., is running typically for this time of year, but the areas has a fair amount of algae growing on the rocks, and fishing has been slow. The North Branch is stained, but benefiting from the lower temperatures.

Smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah has been good. Anglers also are catching sunfish and catfish.A little boy is holding up a fishing pole with a fish on the hook.

Anglers are reporting catches of crappie and sunfish along with smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac. Some success has been reported in the Lander area. Fishing around Brunswick has been slow. Catfish are biting for those using cut bait.

In the District of Columbia, some catfish and smallmouth bass are being taken at Fletcher’s Boat House. Anglers are finding crappie and largemouth bass in Washington Channel and the grass bed at the War College wall. Bridge pilings and wood structure are holding largemouth bass and catfish. Anglers are targeting structure in this area because of the lack of grass beds.

Downstream, anglers will find bass in the grass beds around Piscataway and Mattawoman creeks. These areas should be less populated than last week, when a tournament was taking place. Anglers are targeting the heavier grass at the head of tidal creeks for snakeheads. The main channel near Fort Washington is the home of very large blue catfish.

Anglers are trolling for some nice striped bass near the Route 301 Bridge. The channel edges there and from Piney pint to St. Georges Island is another spot for stripers. Bottom fishing for croakers and spot near the river’s mouth has been productive. Spanish mackerel remain a prime target for anglers, with some bluefish and small stripers in the mix. Anglers also are finding seeing some red drum on the bottom, and are finding some cobia as well. White perch are available off most structure. Crabbing is very 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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Potomac River Fishing Report – August 23, 2019

Managed trout areas (catch and release) in western Maryland are running low and clear, but the fish are there. These areas will be more productive in the fall after October stockings. Fly fishermen are using a lot of streamers and ant imitations. The South Branch Potomac is yielding some nice smallmouth bass upstream of Petersburg.

The Shenandoah system is fishing well, with good catches of smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish.

The upper Potomac is best in the mornings and evenings, but overall the section from Harpers Ferry to Brunswick has been disappointing this season. The extended wet period for the river has impacted spawning, and the lack of aquatic grasses has decreased habitat. As an example, the massive meadow of water stargrass usually visible from the bridge at Point of Rocks is not there this season. The fish being taken are near shore in the morning and evenings, and retreat to ledges and rock gardens at the bottom during the day. Anglers are reporting catches of crappie and sunfish along with smallmouth bass. Catfish are biting for those using cut bait.

In the District of Columbia, anglers are finding crappie, catfish, and some smallmouth bass at Fletcher’s Boat House. Anglers are finding crappie and bass in Washington Channel and the grass at the War College wall. Bridge pilings and wood structure are holding largemouth bass and catfish.

Downstream, anglers will be sharing the river with a major bass tournament this weekend, which will center on the river and tidal creeks downstream of the District. The river temperature is in the mid 80s, and anglers who can slowly fish the grass beds on a moving tide will be rewarded. Mattawoman Creek, Aquia, Pohick Bay, and the mouth of the Occoquan will likely be extra busy this weekend. Snakeheads  can be found in thick grass up the tidal creeks, many of which are guarding the young in their nests. Monster blue catfish are being taken in the channel from Fort Washington downstream.

Anglers are trolling for some nice striped bass near the Route 301 Bridge. More stripers are being taken off the rocks at Cobb Island. Croakers are being found off St. Clements Island. The channel edges from Piney Point to St. Georges Island is a reliable striper area. Anglers are taking spot off the bottom and are using the fish to live-line for striped bass (anglers must use circle hooks). Spanish mackerel seem to be everywhere, with some bluefish and an occasional red drum on the bottom. White perch and croaker are being caught, and some anglers are taking cobia. Crabs are reported to be light, and are likely in their last shed for the season.

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.