Saturday is a Maryland Free fishing day.
Friday’s rain will bring additional mud, trash, and debris to waterways further reducing visibility. The rain will helpfully cool water temperatures, which have reached the low 80s, stressing some fish. After the water clears, the cooler temperatures should help the bite. The wet conditions won’t make for the best fishing conditions for the weekend.
On the North Brach Potomac, the bite has been slow, but cooler temperatures should help those seeking trout. Higher water levels may be problematic for this weekend, depending on how much rain falls. Anglers on the South Branch Potomac will welcome a boost to river flows, but the water likely will be stained by inflows. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has stocked the Savage Reservoir with 50,000 walleye fry. The Shenandoah system was fishing well for smallmouth bass and catfish, and the increased flow and cooler water temperatures should improve fishing once conditions settle.
Action on the upper Potomac River has slowed, but should eventually improve with the cooler water temperatures. Smallmouth bass fishing was good in many areas, and anglers are reporting that fishing is notably improved from the last couple of seasons. Aquatic grasses are returning after a multi-year absence, and a nice stand of water stargrass is growing at Point of Rocks. The aquatic grasses provide habitat for the fish and their prey, and help improve water clarity. The DNR recently stocked the upper Potomac with 40,000 walleye fry. From the mouth of the Monocacy River downstream to Little Seneca, smallmouth bass can be found mid river, and anglers are fishing stick worms and landing some nice-size fish after careful sets on light bites. Flathead catfish can be found near dams, and some large musky are being taken. The DNR is studying mortality levels of these large predators after warm water catches. Lots of sunfish are in the river, along with channel catfish and some large carp. Many of these species are feasting on the cicadas, a once-in-a-lifetime treat. Increased numbers of anglers are noticeable on the weekends. Some anglers are using cicada-colored lures to increase their odds, and some people are using the cicadas themselves as bait.
The metropolitan area Potomac also is a busy place with increased numbers of anglers and boaters. Upcoming tournaments on the upper tidal river add to the numbers. Anglers in the District are taking largemouth bass at bridge pilings and on the seawall at the Washington Channel, as well as a few striped bass. Crappies are biting around docks and channel edges. Downstream, some bass are being found around the mouth of Piscataway Bay. The channel edge off Fort Washington is home to very large blue catfish, which are becoming a dominant species on the tidal river. Behemoths of 50 pounds are frequently caught. Snakeheads are guarding balls of fry in weedy shallows, and will strike lures invading their nurseries. Aquatic grasses are continuing to emerge, mostly south of Piscataway, and those beds are prime targets. Anglers are using stick worms and weedless baits to penetrate the beds at low water. Bass can be lured out of the beds by fishing the edges of the beds during an outgoing tide. The bite has been light, and a gentle touch is needed to set the hook.
Some algae blooms have been reported from Leonardtown down to Point Lookout, and dissolved oxygen is decreasing in the river bottom. Still, some nice catches of striped bass can be had in the Colonial Beach area.
Near the river’s mouth, anglers are finding some nice striped bass in the shallows in the morning and evening. Trolling, jigging, and live lining for striped bass is successful along the channel edges around St. Georges. Spot and white perch are available for live lining using circle hooks. Red drum, speckled trout, and croaker are being caught as well. Crabbing remains slow but is improving.
We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, Potomac River Fisheries Commission, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and Eagle Aquatics.