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Fishing Report

Few angling reports have come from the upper Potomac, its North and South branches, and the Shenandoah. All of these streams continue to run very high and muddy. Some anglers are reporting some smallmouth bass and catfish on the Shenandoah, although the river level near the mouth was again rising strongly.  Freshly stocked trout remain in the North Branch Potomac, and several insect hatches are occurring.

The upper Potomac remains very high and muddy, and the weekend rains may bring more debris into the river. There are some reports of smallmouth bass and catfish catches, but Saturday may be better spent thinking about future river trips rather than actually going.

Conditions on the tidal Potomac improved during the previous week, although the rains will again reduce visibility, which had increased to about two feet. Good growth of Eurasian milfoil beds will be targeted by anglers once conditions improve. The rain and mud seems to have kept the hydrilla from growing quickly. Hydrilla’s dense structure makes it harder to fish. National Bass Guide Service recommends targeting milfoil beds on outgoing tides.

Some fish are being taken at the Washington Channel wall grass beds, and catfish and some largemouth bass can be found around bridge pilings and wood structure. The structure off shore of the Blue Plains treatment plant is holding fish. Further downstream, the grass beds at the mouths of tidal creeks and in the Potomac’s main channel are holding some bass that are finishing their spawning mode. Topwater lures are getting some strikes during low light. The lower Potomac has been less affected, and anglers are taking some nice striped bass at the channel edge from St. George’s Island to Piney Point. Anglers are chumming, trolling, and jigging for the fish. Lots of white perch and few croaker are being caught. Crabbing is slowly improving.

If you are homebound this weekend, check out a new Maryland DNR fishing too, Click Before You Cast. The web page provides a way for anglers to better target specific species based on water quality data.

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.

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About the Basin: Little Bennett Regional Park

A calm stream surrounded by trees at Little Bennett Regional Park.

Photo from MNCPPC

If you take MD-355 north out of Washington, D.C., you will drive through miles of urban and suburban landscape. Eventually, the houses and shops will turn into bucolic fields and forests. The gateway to this beautiful part of rural Maryland is Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg, Md. The south side of the park is lined by housing developments named for the farms that once stood there, but pass through the park and Maryland becomes agricultural fields and small towns.

Just as it is the gateway from urban to rural, Little Bennett also inhabits the ambiguous space between the past and the present.  The park boasts 14 historic sites and 25 miles of forested hiking trails, but it also has a golf course, playgrounds, and more-than-adequate facilities for both glampers and campers.  At 3,700 acres, there is a lot to do and see at Little Bennett.

Eastern bluebirds and timberdoodles are just some of the notable wildlife in the park. If you see a large mound of dirt, admire the handiwork from afar but do not touch it. Those mounds are home to Allegheny mound-builder ants. They can become aggressive if disturbed.

The park’s historic sites celebrate the agricultural and small-scale industries that covered Montgomery County, Maryland in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. One of the 14 historic sites is a one-room schoolhouse built in 1893 and restored to its original appearance in the 1920s. Join park staff on the first Sunday of the month for a guided tour. The next tour is July 1st.

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About the Basin, Peculiar Potomac Edition – George Washington’s Bathtub

George Washington’s Bathtub

George Washington’s Bathtub in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is touted as the “only outdoor monument to presidential bathing.” However, (spoiler alert!) Washington never actually used the tub. The stone “bathtub” was built to symbolize the bathing conditions of the 1700’s. In his quest for better health, Washington visited the hot springs on many occasions.

It is unclear how effective the the hot springs were. In a letter from 1761, Washington said, “I think my fevers are a good deal abated, though my pains grow rather worse, and my sleep equally disturbed.” Washington enjoyed the hot springs frequently, despite his disturbed sleep. He even bought a property close by in the appropriately named town of “Bath”. The town continues to be a popular destination for a spa retreat.

At less than 5 acres, the stone structure in the shape of a bath is located in one of the smallest parks in the West Virginia State Park system. Nonetheless, the park boasts a museum, a Roman bathhouse with spa services, and a public drinking fountain. People come from miles around to fill jugs with the natural spring water.

There is a yearly celebration of the unusual monument, known as George Washington’s Bathtub Celebration, held in mid-March. But if you can’t wait that long to explore this roadside attraction, check out the most famous (and only) presidential bathing monument this weekend for the monthly Art in the Park at Berkeley Springs Park on Sunday. You can support local artists while you explore the curious sites the Potomac watershed has to offer.

Do you know a spot in the Potomac watershed that is wacky, curious, or just a bit odd? Let us know by emailing info@icprb.org and it may be featured in a future Peculiar Potomac Edition of About the Basin.

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About the Basin – Green Ridge State Park

Green Ridge State Park

About the Basin has featured many luxurious camping spots; large, resort-style houses in state parks (read: Westmoreland State Park) and glamping with all the amenities (read: Cacapon State Park). The park in this About the Basin offers a different take on camping. A 4WD car is recommended, the most luxurious items you will find are a picnic table and a fire ring, and park staff offer A LOT of advice on bears. It is basic, bare-bones, rustic camping. It is Green Ridge State Park in Flinstone, Md.

Although camping amenities may be limited, the options for entertainment are not. As the largest contiguous block of public land, Green Ridge has a lot to offer. There is hunting, fishing, and a shooting range for the sportsmen among us. The 50+ miles of hiking provide many camping opportunities for avid backcountry backpackers. The hiking trails seem limitless, as many connect with Buchanan State Forest and the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historic Park Trails. A 12-mile mountain bike trail, geocaching, and paddling are also an option for recreation. There is even a canoe campsite available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some of these activities require permits, so make sure to stop by the visitor’s center before hitting the trails. A detailed map is available (and recommended, since cell service is spotty).

All of this is only a 2-hour drive from the DC Metro area. If you are looking for a rustic weekend away, Green Ridge State Park is where it’s at.

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About the Basin – Westmoreland State Park

Westmoreland State Park

Westmoreland State Park is located along the shores of the Potomac River in Montross, Virginia. The park was one of six Virginia State Parks that opened in 1936 through the Civilian Conservation Corp program. Many of the park’s roads and trails were built by hand during that time.

Westmoreland is about a 2-hour trip south of Washington, D.C., and it is worth the drive. But don’t just go for a day, stay for a night or two. Better yet, stay for three nights. That is the only way to experience all this park has to offer.

Grab a Discovery Pack filled with identification guides and sieves from the visitor’s center and head down to the beach to try your luck at dinosaur hunting. Fossilized shark teeth are a common treasure found on Westmoreland beaches.

But that’s just day one. After you’ve gathered up all your shark teeth, join park staff for a variety of classes for the young and the young at heart. A fossil hike along the beach provides an introduction to the ancient history of the Potomac River. A program on crabbing will introduce you to crabbing techniques used by watermen on the Potomac. They also offer classes on ice cream making, sharks tooth necklace making and more. Join them for their next Fossil Hike on May 26. The park also participates in Clean the Bay Day on June 2 with a large, organized cleaning effort of the park and its beaches (or find a location closer to home to join Clean the Bay Day efforts).

Exhausted from your day of dinosaur chasing? The park offers everything from basic tent camping to luxurious cabin glamping and everything in between. Did you bring the in-laws, the grandkids, and all of their friends? The waterfront Potomac River Retreat sleeps 16  with 5-bedrooms and 5-baths.

There is something for everyone at Westmoreland State Park. When you go, share photos on social media with #PotomacLove and show us how you are enjoying the river this summer!