Monday, May 9, 2016

D.C. and Virginia part 3 - more Potomac River

My third D.C. post combines the evening of the second day with the third and final day, because both took place back in the Potomac River drainage.  American eel was high on my "want" list, so after dark we went back to the spot where we caught white catfish the night before.  I didn't bother with lures this time.  Instead, I used two bait rods - one with a piece of nightcrawler and the other with a piece of cut sunfish.

White Perch (Morone americana)
I was hoping for a big eel to hit the cut bait, but to my surprise I caught one on the tiny piece of nightcrawler I was dangling right next to shore.  That was easy!

American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) - new hook & line species #332

This was my first eel of any kind.  What a cool fish!

The cut bait attracted catfish, and lots of them.  We had a steady bite from channel cats, white cats, and Pat caught one blue catfish.

White Catfish (Ictalurus catus)

Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)

In  the morning we were on a mission to catch herring and shad.  Michael and George had caught them in the tidal basin a few days earlier, so we headed there and walked along the walls looking for schools of fish.  Michael suggested a plain hook, so I tied a rig with two #14 bronze hooks, one twelve inches above the other and a small weight 12 inches below the bottom hook.  To my surprise, it quickly attracted the attention of small white perch.

White Perch (Morone americana)
The herring were hard to find, but eventually we found small schools of about 10 individuals moving quickly along the wall.  An actively jigged plain bronze hook turned out to be irresistable to them.  All of the fish we caught were fair hooked inside the mouth!

Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis) - new hook & line species #333
I never thought a rig like this would be so productive.  The plain hook must look like a small aquatic insect desperately trying to swim away in the water.

The only potential lifers left to go after were American shad, hickory shad, and gizzard shad.  We knew the Potomac River near the fall line would be blown out from the recent rains, but we decided to check out anyway.  Perhaps we could find a side pool full of fish trying to avoid the main current.

After a difficult hike through the woods and scrambling over boulders, Pat and I made it to the river.  We did in fact see big schools of gizzard shad in the side pools, but we could not get them to bite.  Snags were frustrating.  On top of that it began to rain.  The difficult situation got the best of us and we gave up.

Pat had one more spot to try for American and hickory shad, so we gave it a try before I had to head out to the airport.  Several other fishermen were trying this spot, but the bite was slow.  My shad jig got one hit from a tiny striped bass, but that was it.

Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)
With very little time left, I hoofed it to the nearest train station to head back to the airport.  I made it to my gate 5 minutes before boarding started - a little too close for comfort!  However, the rest of my travels went smoothly, and I made it back to Peoria late that night.  I had a wonderful three day trip thanks to Pat and his wife Lia.  Thanks to both of you for the hospitality, home cooked food, and great company!

1 comment:

  1. Definitely going to try this rig for shad and herring this year!