Saturday, May 7, 2016

D.C. and Virginia part 1 - Potomac River

In the second week of May I traveled to D.C. to visit my friend Pat Kerwin.  It was the first time I took a flight for the sole purpose of a fishing trip!  We had been talking about a snakehead and shad trip for quite a while, and I was excited that the time had finally arrived.  My flight landed late Friday night - well after midnight - but I felt well rested the next morning and ready to fish.  We started off at a small discharge to see if I could get my lifer striped bass out of the way.

We  were surprised to find our friends Michael and George already at the discharge when we arrived!  Pat and I knew they would be in town, but we hadn't made any plans to meet them that morning.  It was good to finally meet George in person, because he would be joining our group to Peru later in the summer.  Fishing was slow, and I wasn't able to catch my striper.  I did catch a few bass and white perch.

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

White Perch (Morone americana)

After lunch Pat and I headed to his top secret snakehead spot.  It was a huge privilege to be taken there.  On the way we tossed chatterbaits at a couple of spots where Pat has caught snakehead before, but we didn't get any hits.  The water was muddy, so all we could do was fish close to structure where we thought fish might be hanging out.  The water at Pat's good spot is clear, and when we arrived we could see nearly a dozen snakeheads hugging the bottom.  On my first cast I hooked up, but the fish came off.  Second cast hooked up again, and this time the fish was on!  Snakehead can swim backwards by undulating their long dorsal fin, which makes for a very unusual fight.  It's kind of like playing tug of war with a small bulldog.  It didn't take too long to bring it in though, and man was I stoked when I saw the size of it.  30 inches and beautiful fins and markings.  Thanks so much Pat!

Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) - new hook & line species #329
I made quite the ruckus bringing my fish in, but Pat was able to hook into one as well before the rest of the fish spooked and took off.  He played around with under water photographs while I was trying to recover my chatterbait, and some of the photos turned out really well.

It  really was a bummer that I spooked the rest of the fish.  We tried the current seam where the clear water met the muddy water, had a few follows, but did not get hit.  Our only option was to continue on and see if we could find more fish elsewhere.  I saw a few snakeheads as I was wading in shallow water, but they always saw me as well and refused to bite.  My last fish from this spot was a nice largemouth bass that hit right next to one of the bridge pilings.

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

In  the evening Pat's wife Lia joined us, and we headed down to the Potomac River's tidal basin near the Washington monument.  We saw a few snakehead here as well, but they refused to bite.  After a while we put away our lures and switched to worms and cut bait.  We caught a variety of sunfish, white catfish, channel catfish, and striped bass.

Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)

Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

White Catfish (Ictalurus catus) - new hook & line species #330

My  lifer striped bass hit a small pearl colored curly tail jig.

Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) - new hook & line species #331

Lia wandered off in search of her lifer striped bass as well.  She came back successful, and of course hers was bigger than mine.

Several of the white and channel catfish were missing one or both of their eyes.  I have not seen this in the midwest.  I'm curious if they're being born this way in the Potomac or if something is attacking their eyes when they're young.  The catfish seemed to be in good health regardless of how many eyes they had.

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
It's hard to keep your fishing spot a secret when one of our most famous national monuments is in the background, haha.  Thank you Pat and Lia for a fantastic first day of my trip.


  1. Love the underwater snakehead face shot

  2. nice post man. I got 2 new species this week as well - Kelp Greenling and Quillback Rockfish.

    1. Awesome, nice job! Congrats on getting married as well.

  3. I'm headed up to DC first week of April for a vacation with the wife. Snakehead is not a fish on my list. Anyone know if that is too early in the year to have a shot at one?