Do you fish the Potomac River in and around Washington, DC?
Yes, the Potomac River is in fact a fine fishery, home to Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, varieties of Shad, Catfish and even the recent addition of Snakehead. With all of these fish in our backyard, you don't need to travel hours to trout streams to fly fish, you can swing by the tidal Potomac on the way to or from work.
So, I want to fish the Potomac, where should I go?
There are a nearly infinite number of great fishing spots in the Capital area; with such a big river, you might not know where to go, where to park, which tide to fish, etc. We have made the job of finding spots easier by putting together a dynamic map of the hot fishing spots in our area, see it here.
So, I'm ready to fish in the Potomac, do I need to buy a Fishing License?
Yes, you wil need to have and display a fishing license to fish the Potomac. Within Washington DC, fishing from either side of the bank (that is Virginia or DC), you must posess a District of Columbia Sport Fishing License. This license is available online here. Other sections of the river are policed by the States of Virginia and Maryland, see the the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for regulations. Please see this file for a list of geographical areas where the states have reciprocal agreements for our local rivers.
What kind of rod do I need to fish the Potomac?
The standard rod for the Tidal Potomac river is the 9' 8wt, though many other rods will get the job done. This 8wt will cast the right size flies, sinking lines and fight most fish sufficiently. A growing number of anglers are also fishing two-handed rods that are 13+ feet long and bear the 6-10wt rating. These long rods expand opportunities to cast farther in spots with limited back casting room and manage line while on the water. You should have a sinking line or sink tip for shad and striper fishing.
What kind of flies should I fish on the Tidal Potomac?
If we had to fish one fly on the Potomac, it would be the size 2 Clouser Minnow. In general, most bait fish patterns in the 4-1/0 size range are effective for most species, including Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Catfish. Other types of specialized fishing, such as the spring Shad run require smaller, flashy flies and carp fishing anglers often have the best luck with smaller Wooly Buggers and various nymph patterns. Flies taught at Beer Tie will always be seasonal for what is biting that time of year.
Aren't those "Frankenfish" in there?
Yes, there are Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) in the Tidal Potomac River. The Snakehead is a non-native species to this watershed, but so are Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass (introduced in 1854). Snakeheads are a blast to catch. They will take a well presented fly, fight hard, and make great table fare.
If I catch a Snakehead, what should I do?
There is no legal requirement to kill a Snakehead if you catch one. However, it is illegal to possess one alive. The laws require that you either release the fish or kill it on the spot if you are keeping it. While it is not illegal to release a Snakehead if you choose, the VDGIF, MDDNR, and the USFWS are still asking anglers to kill all Snakeheads caught in an effort to help control the propagation of this species. Please visit their respective websites for more details. If you catch a Snakehead bearing a USFWS tag, you are asked to kill the fish, retain the tag, and call the number on it. You will be asked questions about where it was caught, how it was caught, its size, and its approximate weight. Also, the USFWS may wish to collect the fish. For your efforts, you will be rewarded with a "Snakehead Control" hat, which is a coveted prize among TPFR members.
What is a "Beer Tie"?
Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders periodically convene at a local watering hole to tie flies. Members and guests bring vises and materials to construct flies that fool our local fish while consuming the food and beverage of their choice. Beginners are welcomed to join the novice table and learn how to tie a basic fly, with vises and materials provided by TPFR. The cost is free, but please tip our gracious hosts. Find out when the next beer tie is on our events page.