Posted on October 6, 2014 | Permalink
Something not so Fishy on the Potomac
Location: Potomac River
I went out this past weekend on the tidal Potomac River and got skunked for the first time this year. I checked some of my favorite spots and the depth sounder flat lined as if the fish were all on vacation. That's fishing :-)
Posted on October 3, 2014 | Permalink
Location: Rocky Gorge
I fished Rocky Gorge with friend Peter S. We caught a few bass and a really nice crappie. The crappie hit a pumpkin seed tube fished on the bottom in 12-15 ft of water.
Posted on October 1, 2014 | Permalink
Bass and Cats
Location: Potomac River
I went out at the crack of dawn to try my luck with some topwater baits. I had a few strikes with a buzz bait, but couldn't get hooked up. I did a little better with the popper, catching a few bass and one overzealous bluegill which promptly went in the livewell. Then I threw a spinner bait for a while and caught a channel cat -- refreshing since I have only caught blue cats lately. Finally I cut up the bluegill and fished for blue cats for about an hour. I caught 3, two were 20 lbs, and one was 30 lbs. Blue cats are super strong. I need to get to the gym and build up the back and biceps if I want to keep catching them. Even a "little" 20 pounder can put up quite a fight.
Posted on September 23, 2014 | Permalink
New Personal Best
My son with a stringer of blue catfish that was too heavy for him to lift. He caught them using cut bluegill. The largest was about 30 pounds and his new personal best. It helps to have an "expert fishing guide" as a dad -- patting myself on the back ;-)
Posted on September 22, 2014 | Permalink
Location: Potomac River
Another fun day on the tidal Potomac. Caught a mix of Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass and Blue Catfish, about 15 fish in all. Today, the fish were liking a 1/4 oz War Eagle tandem blade spinner bait along the grass edges. I had to get very close, and occasionally bump the grass in order to get bit. I mostly use cut bait to catch blue cats, but today they were clobbering the spinner bait.
Posted on September 15, 2014 | Permalink
Bait for Blues
Location: Potomac River
The biggest challenge with catching blue catfish is getting bait. Blue cats are voracious eaters and seem to eat almost anything. Bait on the other hand is not so easy to come by. I am hoping that DNR and/or other anglers might offer some suggestions. Here are some ways that I have caught bait.
Pentagon lagoon and the spoils: I have caught bluegill using wax worms on a bobber. One time, it took me 3 hours to catch one bluegill -- hanging my head in shame.
Washington Channel: I have caught perch using live minnows and cut down sibiki rigs. (2 hooks only)
Fletchers: I have caught perch using shad darts during the shad run in the spring.
This may come as a surprise (I know I was surprised), but blue cats eat almost anything including other blue catfish. Yesterday, I caught a blue catfish while jigging for striper. I cut up the catfish and put it on a bottom rig, and caught several more blue cats.
Hopefully, more anglers get interested in blue catfish. They have proliferated the Potomac and are literally everywhere. They are super strong and a lot of fun to catch. Anyone interested in catching "saltwater sized" fish in freshwater should give it a try.
Posted on September 9, 2014 | Permalink
I took advantage of the glorious weather on Sunday and went fishing. With clear skies, a full moon, and high pressure, I really didn't expect to catch a whole lot. To my surprise, the fishing was just as phenomenal as the weather. I caught 4 blue cats and 14 striper -- most were 17 to 22 inches, but one was a whopping 32 inches. A fish that size should be somewhere in the Atlantic right now, but lucky for me, this one was too lazy to make the pilgrimage. I caught the striper on a 1/4 oz buck tail with a 6 inch bass assassin teaser (all white).
P.S. I generally practice catch and release, but having caught so many blue cats lately, I am convinced they pose a serious threat to the ecosystem, so I have been "field dressing" them before returning them to the water. All the striped bass were returned alive and well.
Posted on September 4, 2014 | Permalink
Location: Potomac River near Alexandria
I took my son catfishing this weekend and we had a blast. We only had about 3 hours but we managed to catch 6 catfish. They were decent, but nothing huge. While I was taking one of the pictures, a giant cat took the other bait. It was peeling drag and before I could get the rod out of the rod holder, it broke the leader. We were using 8/0 hooks with 30# leader material. I just ordered some 10/0 hooks and 50# leader. The next one is not getting away.
Posted on August 28, 2014 | Permalink
Location: Gravelly Point
I generally have a plan when I go fishing. Today, the plan was to fish for bass along the grass edge in Washington Channel during low tide. The fish were cooperating. Using a Lucky Craft Pointer SP 78 jerkbait, I caught Smallmouth, Largemouth, and Striped bass -- mostly small, but one Largemouth was probably 2 lbs or better. What I didn't expect was to catch a white perch. I wasn't planning to fish for blue cats, but since I had some bait, I decided to give it a shot.
I anchored in the channel just upstream from Alexandria, near the "Danger" marker. I cut up the perch and put it on an 8/0 circle hook with a 2 oz sinker. Within 5 minutes, I had a fish on that was 60+ lbs. I fought it for about 20 minutes and just as I was grabbing it with my lip grip, it made one last shake and broke the line. I was using 30# shock leader, so it takes a pretty big fish to break the line. I fished for another hour or so and caught two more catfish, probably around 10 lbs or so and was almost ready to pack up when another big blue took the bait. After another 20 minute battle, I landed this one. I'm guessing it was probably 45-50 lbs.
It was another great day to be on the water. Driving back to the dock during sunset is one of the most pleasant experiences in the world. I don't think I will ever get tired of it. The river gets calm and the air is cool. The sky turns red and you can see the Capital and the Washington Monument in the distance. It is a great way to end the day. If there is a heaven, I hope it looks just like that so that I can savor every moment for eternity.
Posted on August 6, 2014 | Permalink
Where to Find the Larger Bass
Location: Upper Potomac River
Fishing on the upper Potomac has been good the past few outings. The water is low, but hydrilla has yet to take hold. I generally manage to catch 20-30 smallmouth in a few hours, but they are all small (13" and smaller). During spring, it seems everything is 17" or larger, but during the summer it is rare to catch anything over 15". Question for DNR, where do the big ones go? Any tips on catching them?
I also caught a fish with lesions all over its mouth (pictured). This was a 13" smallie and had plenty of fight in it. I was wondering what is the cause of the lesions? Any recommendations when catching fish like this?
DNR Response: The larger bass are more active than the juveniles at cooler water temperatures, generally from the mid-50s and cooler. Also, the mature bass are actively feeding during the prespawn period to secure energy and nutrients for the spawn and later aggressively defend their nests and brood. During the summer, the larger bass spread out in a variety of habitats remaining hidden near boulders and ledges when the sun is bright and the water is low and clear. They become more active during low light periods of dawn and dusk and also at night when madtoms (a small noctural member of the catfish family) are active.
The fish in the photo is most likely suffering from infections related to hooking injuries. Always try to remove hooks quickly with as little tissue damage as possible.