Potomac River Fishing Report – July 23, 2021

The Shenandoah basin water levels are low and clear and some areas have some algae. Anglers are catching smallmouth bass and catfish in both the North and South forks. The mainstem is fishing fair for smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish. Mountain streams are very low and clear, so anglers will need some stealth to avoid spooking the fish. River temperatures are in the low- to mid-80s

The South Branch Potomac is running very low and clear, with water temperatures in the mid-80s. In areas with enough water, smallmouth bass and catfish are taking slowly fished lures. The North Branch Potomac is somewhat cooler. Trout management areas continue to produce some rainbow and brown trout in the mornings. The ICPRB continues to assist the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with creel surveys that will help in future management decisions.

The upper Potomac River remains low, slow, and clear, with water temperatures in the low- to mid-80s. Lander, Brunswick, and Whites Ferry provide access to some productive water. The best fishing by far is in the very early morning that provides some great topwater fishing with poppers and other small topwater baits. Target faster moving water. As morning continues, some smallmouth bass can be taken by fishing stick worms or small plastic baits fished very slowly. The bite is very light, making it easy to miss a gentle strike. Some nice smallmouth were taken from upstream of Whites Ferry and around Dickerson. The mouth of the Monocacy is green from algae, which is found in spots along the Potomac.

The MD DNR is planning for a supplemental stocking in some areas of the river. For more information, visit the smallmouth bass stocking webpage.

Fishing in the metropolitan Potomac remains slow. Anglers are targeting bridge pilings, docks, and other structure with stick worms, soft plastics, and crankbaits. The Washington Channel is holding some blue catfish.  Hydrilla is growing in some areas, and fishing the bed edges where found can be productive. All baits should be fished slowly in the warm water, which is in the mid-80s.

Downstream, bass are seeking cooler water and shade. Morning high tides allow anglers to target grass beds in moving water in incoming and outgoing tides. Fort Washington Channel holds huge blue catfish, and the mouth of Piscataway Bay has some largemouth bass. Grass beds become more established downstream. Mattawoman Creek vegetation holds some bass and snakeheads. Pohick Bay has some nice bass and snakeheads. The early morning hours are the most productive. The very light and slow bite is easier to pick up with lures fished very slowly.

Cooler daybreak water temperatures allow for topwater fishing both around grass beds and other structure. Later in the day fish shady spots under docks or floating debris mats. The tidal creeks on both sides of the river are holding some nice bass. Fish stick worms and chatterbaits over the grass beds, and the edges as water lowers. Swim baits work well around hard structure.

Pohick Bay coves and shorelines hold bass and snakeheads. Blue catfish are common, with 40-50 pound fish a common catch for those targeting them. Snakehead catches are increasing with spawning over for now.

The Potomac River is closed to striped bass fishing through August 20.

Fishing is slow in the Colonial Beach area, with water clear with a green tint and temperatures in the low- to mid-80s. Anglers are taking some bluefish, croaker, spot, and some nice white perch, along with blue catfish. Puppy drum have moved into the area. Sea nettles are showing up in greater numbers. Avoid bottom fishing in the main channel where the summertime depleted oxygen zone is forming.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers continue to see nice bites of Spanish mackerel and speckled trout. Cobia are being taken in chum slicks. Bluefish are around to strip the baits of those fishing for other species. Crabbing remains tough.

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 CommissionNational Bass GuidesShallow Water Fishing Adventures, and Machodoc Creek Marina.

Little boy sitting on a bench reaching for bait. A lake is in the background.