Yes, you can shore fish from much of the Tidal Basin. It’s a beautiful place, and inevitably there are friendly tourists and other fishermen who will shoot the breeze with you.
And the Basin has tons of fish: carp, catfish, large-mouth bass, striped bass, eels, and more.
A spot I worked all three days is on the jefferson Memorial side of the Basin, just past the bridge beyond the boat rental area. The sun does not hit that area in the morning.
When I fished July 13, I angled for catfish and bass. (By the way, I got a large-mouth on a Texas rigged, pumpkin green, speckled Senko worm.) I used hot dog, chicken livers, and eventually frozen drum or spot that had been in my freezer at least a year. The chicken livers drew plenty of attention, but 5 of the 7 were stolen by catfish. I lost another to a bad cast (livers tear very easily). And one liver brought a 20-inch channel catfish.
Surprisingly, the cut drum, which had been ignored at the Basin and had only scored once for me at Fletcher’s, brought in a 15-inch blue catfish. (These data may support the common contention that channel catfish love livers and blue catfish love cut fish.)
Annoyed at all the livers and catfish lost, I looked for various ways to improve my baiting. I settled on making netted balls of liver. :I used this plastic netting from a $3 bath loofah bought at Safeway. I made 10 balls with fresh chicken livers inside ($2 to $3 a container at Safeway or Giant).
The netting was so-so—it sometimes it untied, and the knots were too big and the balls might have put off the carp due to their plastic-ky smell and the big knots. But, I scored an 18-inch catfish 10 minutes after starting fishing on July 17. Sadly, I had very few hits after that morning and landed only one more catfish—a 14-inch pipsqueak channel catfish. Was the fishing lackluster because it was only 12 hours after a heavy rainstorm? Who knows.
Next time I will use tubular gauze and see if I get better results. I also want to source bluegill, which I failed to catch on corn and bread with bobber.