Fish history: The federal government used to farm fish near the Washington Monument

Fish Washington Monument

Who knew?!

“Starting around 1879, such species as carp, bass and shad were bred by the U.S. Fish Commission in large ponds just west of the Washington Monument….”

“In the summer of 1879, ponds started to be carved out in the area then known as the Potomac Flats. The ponds were the idea of Spencer F. Baird, a former Smithsonian curator — and future Smithsonian secretary — who had been tapped by President Ulysses S. Grant to head the U.S. Fisheries Commission. Baird noted the decrease in fish harvests across the country — due, he believed, to overfishing — and thought a breeding program could help replenish stocks. Such wild species as shad, bass and crappie would eventually be raised in the Washington Monument ponds, but the early attention was focused on a foreign fish: the carp.”

“Floods swamped the ponds in June 1889, sweeping no fewer than 4,000,000 baby fish into the raging waters of the Potomac….”

Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-world-according-to-carp-answer-man-visits-the-fish-ponds-on-the-mall/2017/11/18/93965c98-caf0-11e7-aa96-54417592cf72_story.html?utm_term=.dcff9ce11f2e

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How to Turn a Cooler Into an Awesome Rod Holder and Bait and Fish Keeper


So, my previous post crowed about the bucket rod holder contraption I built for $20.

This rod holder is a little more pricy, but it is terrific, not least because it has the extra advantage of being something you can keep the fish you catch in. Additionally, this Coleman cooler also has measurements on the top, so you can lay your fish on it to assess the length.

All told, this cost me about $75, although one can buy a smaller, cheaper cooler, or get one used from someone on Craig’s List or somesuch. The pieces are:

  • 100-quart Coleman cooler with wheels (buy here)
  • Brocraft rod holders (buy here)

The Brocraft rod holders come with the installation screws, which you can drill straight into the cooler (no need to drill holes first: the cooler’s plastic will give way to the screw tips.)

As with the bucket, when you get to your fishing spot you must fill the cooler. You can use a bucket to fill it one-third to half-way full, or you can use a little pump and battery. A pump also can aerate the water in the cooler, which will keep your baitfish and catches alive. (Yes, this is a simple livewell, one you also can use on your boat.)

 

How to Make a Great Rod Holder Bucket for Fishing for Catfish, Carp, and More for $20


Raise your hand if you ever have set a rod down and had a fish hit and pull it into the water?

This has happened to me, and it is a real (reel?) drag. (Oh, the puns.) I have had catfish and carp both yank rods into the depths, never to be seen again.

This rod holder bucket is the solution to that problem, and can be made for about $20 in 30 minutes.

The materials are:

  • 1 5-gallon plastic bucket;
  • 3 nuts/bolts/washers (3/8″ or so);
  • 2 24-inch pieces of 1.5-inch by 3.5-inch wood; and
  • 4 large close line hooks (Bring your fattest rod to the hardware store to ensure you buy a large enough hook)

Drill holes in one piece of lumber that are the same size as your bolts; drill holes in the bucket aligned with the holes you just drilled in the lumber; etc. Watch the video: this simple contraption is pretty self-explanatory.

I love this rod holder. When you go to fish on a dock or next to a river or lake, you bring the bucket (with your bait and rigs inside). When you pick your spot, you take your stuff out of the bucket, and dip the bucket into the water to fill it. Voila: you have about 40 pounds of weight, which will keep your rods secure. (Note, the bucket should face the water, not the lumber cross.)

Give it a try, and let me know how you like it! This bucket last weekend helped me land a 40-pound blue catfish.

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Does October Bring Big Catfish?


In late August and early September, I caught mostly smaller catfish. My hypothesis was that the fish of breeding age had gone off food to focus on baby-making, leaving the pipsqueaks to hit my baits. I’d put four or five rods out, get hits every 10 minutes, and bag a dozen fish in two or three hours. But only one or two of the catfish would be more than 20 inches or more than 1.5 pounds.

Come late September, the hits were less frequent, and when they came they were big, slow rod benders, bearing 3- to 5-pound fish. And on the first day of October, well, I hauled up a 21-pounder that was 38 inches long. The other five catfish featured a couple of two-pounders, a two three-pounders, and a pipsqueak that jumped on the corn bait I put out for  carp. (I did land a small carp in the shallows between the dock and the shore.)

Last October, I set my personal best at Fletcher Cove—a 37-pound blue catfish. I hauled him in maybe 20 minutes after I brought up a similarly sized beast that snapped my rig at the edge of the boat (ARG!) when I stupidly failed to deploy a net.

So, maybe after a few weeks of sweet loving and little eating, the big catfish emerge from their lairs hungry?

Thirty days remain in October, so we shall see if the days bring more big fish.

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Fish I Have Caught in the C&O Canal in Washington, DC

It is the simplest of rigs: monofilament line tied to a modest swivel, then attach a trim bobber 6 inches above it and put an Eagle Claw snelled hook (size 6) on. Put a worm on (put the hook through both ends and the middle), and cast and watch.

I have had the following fish strike this rig and bait: bluegill, sunfish, large-mouth bass, channel catfish, and a carp.

The map above shows where I have had success—but don’t feel obliged to try only there. Fish run through the canal, which runs from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC. Wherever one finds a bridge or a fallen tree or brush in the water—those are good places to cast your bait.

One question I sometimes get is, “How can fish be in the canal?” Simple: the canal connects to Rock Creek and the Potomac River—so the fish in the latter two end up in the canal.

Bike/walking/running trails (former towpaths) run along the canal—so if you fish one spot and find it wanting, move along!

Kosar large-mouth bass 04-2017

Photo credit: Craig Furuta.