Washington DC Variety

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pmk00001's picture
Washington DC Variety

Washington DC variety

The Potomac is a big river, it's headwaters have native brook trout, and in its mouth you can catch saltwater species like bluefish.  DC is a transition zone, where you can catch a wide variety of fish.  In addition, a series of rapids and a low rise dam stops the migration of anadromous fish, primarily Hickory and American Shad, Blueback and Alewife Herring, and White Perch and Striped Bass.
I had a chance to take a day off last week and decided to spend it on the Potomac.  The plan was for my wife to drop me off on her way to work, and then pick me up on the way back.  This gave me about 11 hours to fish.  I decided to hike a four mile trail which runs along the Virginia side of the river, from Theodore Roosevelt Island almost to Chain Bridge.  My target fish were three species that I had caught in the past but don't have picture of for my lifelist....American (White) Shad, Blueback Herring, and White Sucker.  Saying that, I was more than willing to take what came my way.
My first stop was directly under the Key Bridge, directly across from Georgetown.  There were 1000's of herring spawning against the foundations of the bridge.  I quickly tossed a small jig in among them and had a fish on my first cast.  White Perch
And then another, and another, and another.....I needed a new plan.  I found a tiny jig with a gold hook which I jigged in front of the herring, the white perch weren't biting which was good thing!
To make along story short...a little while after I tied the bare jig on I realized that there was a least one person in the bushes watching me....I figured I should move upstream and find a new spot to fish.  
The river is beautiful in this stretch...the high cliffs on the VA side and the flood plain on the DC side prevent any major development, here's a shot a little above Key Bridge.....
Looking back toward Key Bridge.
We've had very little rain this spring so the Potomac is unusually clear.  I was able to look over most of the available spots to fish and didn't see anything that I liked.  After about a mile I found a nice looking spot and caught this mini Striped Bass on my first cast.  
I ended up catching about 20 of these over the course of the day, from this size to about 18 inches.  
I noticed alot of sunfish following my jig, including a small longear.  Longear are common up river but uncommon in DC, I put on a tiny jig with a sliver or worm.  Never caught the Longear but got plenty of Red Breast and Bluegill.  I even managed an over ambitious Spottail Shiner.
A traveled up the trail a little further, I saw a decent sized largemouth up against the bank and decided to throw my jig and worm at him..it was quickly gobbled up by this Green Sunfish.
I had two rods with me so decided to fish a 3 inch white gulp minnow on the other.  A little while later I connected with this little Smallmouth Bass.
I tried for crappie at this tree but didn't have any luck.  I did managed to sight fish a decent Channel Catfish (got two sight fishing that day!).
About halfway through the trip I connected with this Largemouth Bass.
I saw some micro fish at the mouth of a small creek that I couldn't identify.  I broke out the small hooks but couldn't keep the spottails at bay.
As you get closer to Chain Bridge the river narrows and the current quickens.  I tried for Shad but didn't have any luck with them.  I also stumbled across these two 30lb+ Blue Cats that left on the bank.  They were still alive so I put them back in the river.
I had the idea that it would be cool to catch a blue cat.  I needed some bait but of course there's never a sunfish or white perch around when you need one!   While trying to catch one I found this guy dead on the bank so cut him up for bait.  
I quickly lost the only two large hooks I had :(.
I was starting to see suckers feeding along the rocks.  I switched my light rod over to a small hook and split shot and put a bit of nightcrawler on.  The suckers were difficult to see and were feeding on the ledge which made presenting a hook bait a real challenge.  
Eventually I got my bait in front of pair that were slowly moving up a ledge.  There was a small over hang and my bait was just the other side of it.  They both swam under the ledge and I saw one spook out to the river and lost sight of the other.  I looked around for the other and turned back to my hookbait just in time to see him inhale it.  I slowly lifted the rod and let him set the hook for me.  He rain right into the main current and gave me a great fight.  I was even more excited to see that it was a species that I had never fair hooked before!!!  A new lifer!!
I was hooked so to speak and spent my last few hours chasing them.  I caught two more and had about 25 of them make me look foolish!
It's funny how fast 11 hours can go.....Here's my final destination.
pmk00001's picture
More Fishing

I try and fish as much as possible in the Spring time...for obvious reasons.  My wife was running a 5K on Friday after work so I had her drop me off at the Tidal Basin in DC.  I'm sure some of you have been to the Tidal Basin before.  It's about 100+ acres and in the spring time it warms up fast and provides a great place for fish to spawn.  You can always catch a good variety of fish there.


I won't bore you with pictures of fish I already posted in this thread, but I did catch more White Perch, Largemouth, Bluegill, Redbreast, and a couple of Channel Cats.  
I also caught some Black Crappie and Yellow Perch..notable because I hadn't caught them on my earlier trip.
My wife finished her race and it was a nice evening so came and hung out with me while I fished.  Right before we were due to leave I caught the Potomac's latest resident.  I'm usually alone when fishing for snakeheads, so it was nice to get a good shot in, with an even cooler background!
I almost a few snakeheads chances early in the evening.
Saturday -
I had a chance to fish with my buddy Tommy who lives about an hour outside to DC...he loves fishing the Tidal Basin so that's where we started out.  We caught the usual suspects but Tommy managed a Brown Bullhead on a jig...as well as Pumpkinseed that I forgot to take a picture of!!
We then decided to go up to Chain Bridge for a few hours....I was hoping for a White Shad and maybe some more suckers...didn't see many suckers and no White Shad but we did get some Hickory Shad.
We went back to the Tidal Basin for the evening bite...we both ended up catching snakeheads right before a storm came in.


Patrick Kerwin
Washington, DC




Hengelaar's picture

Awesome variety, indeed!

Great stuff. Those are some thick Quillbacks!


And you have those Snakeheads figured right out, it seems.

Invasives or no, those are awesome looking fish. Do you sight fish them?

Fishn sure is neat

atenkley's picture
Great Read!

What a variety and it was as if I were right there with you!  - Arlan

....visit  .....those other fish

pmk00001's picture
Thanks guys, I often sight

Thanks guys, I often sight fish for snakeheads once the water warms up a bit. Sight fishing+snakehead+top water frogs=a blast!


Ken, Redbreast and spottail should be easy!  Not sure about those Quillbacks though....

Jason E.
Jason E.'s picture
Nice fish.  Reminds me of my

Nice fish.  Reminds me of my urban fishing days in Boston.  Right across from MIT on the Charles I caught piles of eels, white perch, and bullheads.  People gave me the weirdest looks.  Cool to see the diverse fishery right by the Washington Monument.

Deftik's picture
Nice, the Northern Snakehead

Nice, the Northern Snakehead has been on my "must catch" list for 3 years running, this year I'm gonna put serious effort into catching one. Its nice to see a picture of one without a knife in its head or decapitated!!! I've saw some really sick and twisted videos coming out of the east coast of people beating them with logs and putting them on train tracks.... I'd love to see them become fishable in Northern Pa, but much like the maligned flathead I don't see that coming to fruition anytime soon.

Your momma fishes for lifers with Eagle Claws.
Eli's picture
Great variety and nice

Great variety and nice looking river.

I have relatives in DC who I've been meaning to visit for a while.

I understand that snakeheads go best during the hot months, and big blue cats are best targetted in November/December. What time of year would you say is good to bet the best of both species?




pmk00001's picture
I hate to say it but right

I hate to say it but right now would be ideal for both....snakeheads actually get tough in the summer because the tidal potomac is very weedy and it makes it hard to get at them....Blue cats definately seem to go better in the cooler months, especially the big ones....saying that, they are really abundant and if you weren't worried about size any time of the year is good for Blue Cats.

DavidG's picture
Awesome report, the second I

Awesome report, the second I saw your were on the Potomac I hoped to see a snakehead. I'd love to tangle with one of those bad boys


DavidG Blog:  http://www.fishing-headquarters.com/boundlesspursuit/

Eli's picture
Thanks pmk.  

Thanks pmk.





pmk00001's picture
No problem Eli, let me know

No problem Eli, let me know when/if you are coming to the area and I'll do all I can to help.  Same for anyone!