Potomac River – Our Nation’s River is legendary. Many fail to realize its diverse and expansive characteristics, as well as the tributaries that connect it across the states of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The river is generally bucketed into two sections; the tidal (lower) Potomac and the Upper Potomac. The Upper Potomac, which reaches out west of the city, is generally known for its Smallmouth fishing. The Tidal portion of the River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, is known for high quality largemouth fishing, huge catfish, and the always exciting runs of Striped Bass and Shad.
Given its size, the Potomac offers ample opportunities for access up and down DC, Maryland, and Virginia. This natural and historic river hosts several fun species of fish, giving anglers the occasional feeling of not knowing exactly what’s on the other end of the line….Who knows maybe it’s a Snakehead?
- Hot Spots/Access Points – Fletcher’s Boathouse, Gravelly Point, Leesylvania State Park, Occoquan River, Dogue Creek, Four Mile Run, Chain Bridge, Pohick bay, Mattawoman Creek….
- Notable Species – Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass, Shad species, Blue Catfish, Snakehead, Yellow/White Perch, Walleye, Bream, Carp, etc.
- More Information – Potomac River Fisheries Commission, Fletchers Cove
Occoquan Reservoir – I learned how to fish this body of water across the course of my childhood by foot, canoe, and Jon boat. While the pressure can be a little high on weekends, “the rez” can be a great place to fish for fishermen of all skill levels. Each cove and point on the reservoir can hold fish, but lure and pattern choice seem to be the key to landing high volumes of fish on this body of water. VDGIF data shows healthy populations of Largemouth and catching 4+ lb fish is not uncommon. The reservoir is susceptible to murky water after heavy rains and I’ve generally found the most clear water closest to the Occoquan Res/River dam.
- Hot Spots – Sandy Run, Lake Ridge Marina, Bull Run Marina, Fountainhead, etc.
- Notable Species – Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Channel Catfish, Bream
- More Information – VDGIF – Occoquan Reservoir
Shenandoah River – The Shenandoah does not have the same reputation it used to have for trophy sized Smallmouth, but what it might lack in size of fish, it certainly makes up in terms of the volume you can catch. I’ve had days of 50+ Smallies on this body of water and will generally get at least one nice 15-19 inch fish mixed in. Despite being a relatively short drive from DC, the River boasts beautiful Appalachian Mountain scenery. It’s a perfect river to float for a day and if you are lucky enough you could even come across a Black Bear. Keep it simple on this body of water. You can throw a small crank bait all day long and do some serious damage. The ‘doah is also great for fly fishing. Pull the canoe over when you see some good pools and get ready for some hard fighting smallmouth action.
Several outfitters up and down the river provide canoe and kayak rentals, making this river pretty accessible despite it’s relatively remote setting.
Other Places I Frequently Fish –