Potomac Riverwatch: August 17 - 25, 2012
RIVER CONDITIONS THIS WEEK
The weekend's temperatures bring a harbinger of fall, with Saturday's highs
ranging from the low to mid 80s, and the mid to high 70s on Sunday. A mix of clouds and sun on Saturday will give way to a cloudier Sunday with the chance for a shower. Water temperatures also have been falling, with the mainstem Potomac ranging from the low to mid 80s. Streams throughout much of the basin are at near-normal levels for this time of year, and are generally running clear.
Prepare for on-water activities by checking the weather and water levels just before venturing out, let family and friends know your float plans, and always wear a life vest. Call the National Weather Service at (703) 996-2200 for detailed weather information, or check the online Potomac river gage map here.
The North Branch Potomac and North and South forks of the Shenandoah continue to produce good catches of smallmouth bass. Fly fishermen are using crayfish and baitfish patterns in the mornings, and drifting insect patters during the day after the insects start to fly.
The upper mainstem Potomac, storms have raised the water level somewhat, but the water remains generally clear. The lower temperatures have increase fish activity during what has been a very good season for smallmouth bass angling. The still growing water stargrass beds in the river are prime habitat for the species.
Casting upstream into the beds with poppers, small buzzbaits or floating frog lures gets bites. Ledges and other submerged structure provides are good bets in deeper water. also is seeing insect hatches in the evenings. Fishing early in the morning is a good bet. The river around Lander, Md., White's Ferry, and Brunswick remain popular with anglers. The season remains a very good one for channel catfish as well.
Recent reports from anglers fishing the upper tidal Potomac note success at bridge pilings in the District of Columbia. The cooler temperatures have increased fish activity. Largemouth bass fishing continues to be very good, along with catches of channel catfish. Anglers are still taking striped bass, although the larger fish
are moving down the river. Anglers in this region remain focused on grass beds, with the best conditions including a strong tide in the morning hours. Upper Piscataway Creek and Gunston Cove have been producing nice largemouth bass, as well as shallower areas near the mouth of Mattawoman Creek that contains wood cover. Fishing
the tops of the grass beds with floating lures is the ticket during the higher portion of the moving tide, with the bed edges and wood cover satisfying at lower water. The back portion of Pohick Bay and Dougue Creek provide plenty of snakehead opportunities. Most guides recommend using spinner baits or floating frog lures across the grass beds in higher water, and fishing the edges of those structures with deeper-diving lures as the tide falls. Docks and other shaded structures will hold fish during the heat of the day. Remember to kill all captured snakeheads, and report catches in Virginia waters to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (see their website for complete rules). Large blue catfish also are popular targets in the river around Fort Washington and downstream.
Anglers chasing striped bass are having good luck chumming, jigging, and live-lining spot near the river's mouth. Chumming attracts smaller stripers, but larger fish may be lurking at depth below te smaller fish. Bluefish have entered the area in force, frustrating those who are targeting the stripers. Large croaker are being landed at the river's mouth, and up into the Piney Point and the St. Mary's River. Good catches of Spanish mackerel, white perch round out the menu for the lower Potomac. It also has been a good crabbing season, as the salt water from the bay reaches farther up into the river because of the dry conditions.
Potomac River Island to Island Paddle, August 16-25, 2012. Sponsored by Potomac Riverkeeper, staffer Whit Overstreet and paddling partner Joe Hage have begun their annual canoe and kayak trip from Sycamore Island (upstream of Little Falls) all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, a total of over 130 miles! The duo will be camping out at various islands and other shore side stops along the way. The public can follow this interesting tour of the Potomac on the Potomac Riverkeeper's Facebook page.
Potomac River Blockade Boat Tours and Lunch, Dumfries Va., Saturday, August 18. Cruise along the Potomac River shoreline and view sites that were critical to the Confederate forces' successful blockade of Washington D.C. from September 1861 through March 1862. Local historians will discuss the significance of the blockade, gun batteries and camps that supported the Confederate efforts. The cruise will include the preserved batteries at Freestone Point and Possum Nose, as well as Evansport and Shipping Point. Tour includes lunch. No pets please. Not appropriate for children under six. Please call 703-792-4754 for more information and reservations.
C&O Canal & Town of Williamsport Days, Williamsport, Md., August 26-27, 2012.Events will be taking place in various areas of the town during the weekend for the young and the old, such as a petting zoo near the river bottom, little canal boat races along the Conococheague Creek, National Park Service rides on the NEW Canal Boat, music of various styles throughout the town, Street dance on Friday night, Food Vendors of all kinds, various artisans making their goods in the park. The majority of the craft vendors will be located along the main streets of
Williamsport. For more information, call 301-223-7711.
Potomac Riverwatch is a weekly report from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin on the conditions of the Potomac River and its tributaries. Volunteers throughout the Potomac basin are contacted each week by Commission staff for first-hand information on their area of the river. Check out the complete calendar of events at www.potomacriver.org.
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