Anglers are enjoying these last few days of striped bass catch-and-release fishing in the deepest waters of the shipping channel. Those who are trolling are using heavy parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads in tandem at depths of 50 feet or more. Light-tackle anglers are watching their depth finders for striped bass chasing menhaden in the shipping channel. Large soft plastic jigs in the range of 2 ounces with 9-inch soft plastic bodies are being used at depths of 50 more or more by anglers using braid line.
Striped bass are now in place at the spawning reaches of the Nanticoke, Patuxent, and Potomac Rivers. The waters are warming up just enough that some preliminary spawning is taking place. The bulk of the spawning activity should take place during the end of the first week of April and into the second week; all fishing for striped bass is prohibited during April.
Fishing for white perch is good in the middle to upper reaches of the region’s spawning rivers. White perch are being found in the Nanticoke and Wicomico rivers, the upper Patuxent, and tributaries of the tidal Potomac River. Small jig heads or shad darts tipped with a piece of fresh minnow or bloodworm will do the trick, as will a simple one-hook bottom rig. White perch will often be found working their way up the deeper channels and holes where water depths start to become sparse.
A mix of hickory shad and American shad are increasing in numbers in the Potomac River within District of Columbia waters, Mattawoman Creek, and the upper Patuxent River.
This is an exciting and fun catch-and-release fishery for light-tackle anglers using spinning or fly-fishing tackle. Colorful sinking flies, shad darts, and small flashy spoons will attract the attention of both species of shad.
Anglers are reminded if they fish the Potomac outside the Maryland line, they will need a District of Columbia recreational fishing license. The District is conducting extra enforcement this year and will check for licenses.
Blue catfish are certainly in play this week and offer plenty of action for those fishing along the edges of the main river channels. The tidal Potomac River from the Wilson Bridge south to the Route 301 Bridge holds large concentrations of blue catfish. Fishing from shore or from a boat with enough lead to hold bottom, large circle hooks and cut bait is the ticket to catching them. The Patuxent River from Benedict to Jug Bay holds large concentrations of blue catfish as does the Nanticoke River in the Sharpstown area.
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