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.

Shad Fishing at Fletcher’s Cove in Washington, DC on April 13, 2017

What. A. Day. I arrived at 7:30am, just 30 minutes after the tackle shop at Fletcher’s opened. every boat was rented. I was down, and considered going home.

But the sun was shining and the mercury was at maybe 55 degrees and it was a lovely morning. So I walked north past the boat dock to see if I might have some luck from the shore.

My first spot, a rocky outcropping right at the edge of the cove was a disaster. First cast I snagged and lost my two-dart rig. I seriously pondered packing it in. But with so many boats on the Potomac River and shad leaping and splashing, I had to try.

I am very glad I did. VERY.

I caught around two dozen shad from a muddy spot just south of what I call the catfishing peninsula. I had four of them in the first 25 minutes. And the fish were big. The smallest ones were 8″, but I consistently got fish 12 to 16 inches long. Below is a video of one of the whoppers. All the shad fought hard, and my line was busted three times. (I am inclined to switch super light braided line—maybe green—which will not break so easily and is much easier to tie, especially when it is sunny or windy. Or 10-pound clear monofilament will work.)

You can see from the video above that my rig was a small tri-swivel tied to my line (4-pound monofilament) and two darts (one chartreuse and one yellow), with one dart on about 22 inches of line and the other on about 16 inches.

As the video shows, you cast, then begin reeling once the darts hit. Frequently you’ll get hit in 5 seconds or less. You also might find yourself with shad on both darts, which makes reeling all the more an adventure.

Kosar Two Shad at once 04-13-2017

I wear a size 12 shoe, which shows how big these shad were. Photo credit: Kevin R. Kosar.

Oh memo to the novice: shad leap from the water and thrash alot, so keep the line tight and rod bent as you reel them in, otherwise they can pop themselves off the hook. And bring a net to scoop them in—lifting them straight from the water may get you a broken line or allow the fish to leap free.

Update: Additional experiments revealed that casting single darts (chartreuse, yellow, and orange) worked just fine. Switching to orange after working chartreuse heavily got positive results. Also, in slack tide, you cast and start revealing a second or three after the cast. As current builds, you may need to count to 10 or more before you slow reel so as to to let the dart sink down.

Blue Catfish Caught in Nanjemoy Creek in October 2016

This is one of the blue catfish that I caught in Nanjemoy Creek. The catfish there sure love to hit on fresh chicken livers. (I did see one young lady score small catfish on big earth worms, but I have not tried them myself.)

This fish was 28 inches and close to 10 pounds. A nice one—but there are some beasts in the creek. Twice I have seen 30-pound test line snapped by sudden massive hits. (This is what happens if you do not leave you drag loose enough—or if the fish manages to jerk the line under a log or somesuch.)

Fishing Nanjemoy Creek at Friendship Farm Park on November 2, 2016

friendship-farm-park-nanjemoy-creek-11-2016The Nanjemoy Creek in Maryland is known to outsiders for its bass and catfish. Twice previously I’ve fished a different part of the creek, and the catfish were many and included a 12-pounder. I also twice had 30-pound leaders snapped by BIG catfish. (Lesson learned: loosen the drag so the fish can pull line out.)

This was the first time I fished Nanjemoy from Friendship Farm Park (4715 Friendship Landing Road, Nanjemoy, MD 20662). There is a nice pier to fish from, which is next to a boat launch. You do not need a fishing license to fish here. (The farm was private property transferred to the state’s custody, and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources manages it.) There is ample parking, and when I visited on a weekday there was only one other angler, who was casting from the shore and catching perch and catfish with night crawlers.

The day I visited the temperature was about 60 degrees and rose to the low 70s. I was there from 9:30 to 12 during slack tide and then with the tide coming in.

I enjoyed my visit, but I was a little surprised that the only catfish biting chicken liver were small catfish. Real small—like a foot or so long. The other angler there caught a 24-inch blue catfish and an 18-incher around 8am. after that, she reeled in only pipsqueak catfish and white perch, which also hit the worms she was bottom-fishing.

For 2.5 hours, I had hit after hit—but they were tiny ones as you can see from this video. The rods dipped just a little and sporadically. (What you want to see is the rod bend forward and stay down, indicating the fish has taken the bait, run, and the hook has popped through its cheek.) The little catfish picked at the bait but were hard to hook on the big 8/0 circle hooks I was using.

Will I return to Friendship Farm Park again? Certainly. But I will come equipped with smaller hooks to use on at least one of the rods. These Mustad Size 4 treble hooks would do very well with chicken liver tied to them with Miracle Fishing Thread.

Catfishing at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, July 13, 16, and 17, 2016

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.

channel catfish 07-13-2016.jpg

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).

chicken liver ball

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.

small channel catfish 07-17-2016.jpg

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.

Bluegill, Sunfish, Large-mouth Bass, and Small-mouth Bass Fishing In Silver Lake, Ohio, July 5, 2016

This lovely, private lake —you cannot get in unless you are a member or a guest of a member—has a little dock that one can fish off, and rowboats and kayaks may be borrowed for free.

There are lots of lilly pads, but the seaweed is not bad. The sunfish and bluegills are plentiful, and love little hotdog chunks (bobbered or not). In three hours we landed about 10 sunfish, along with a small mouth bass. The catfish lines put out there (hot dog, shad, cat-chow bait) got no bites. (A 16-inch catfish did hang around the dock, trailing a rig and line from its mouth.) A young boy near me caught a 12-inch large-mouth bass on bobber and hot dog chunk.

This advice came from Robert Heydorn, who knows the lake better than anyone:

“It’s mainly a bass lake, largemouth bass to be specific. It also has bluegill and sunfish and black crappie and channel catfish. If you want to fish for the bass he recommends 7 inch plastic worms that are dark colored on a Texas rig. The kids can fish off the dock with little bits of hot dog on a 12 or 14 inch hook using a bobber. Walmart also sells bait now and they have a red worms or wax worms which they called butter worms that he says are really good. For catfish, I use hot dogs, but others use store-bought catfish bait, chunks of old chicken or liver, or night crawlers. Off the dock you can catch lots of panfish and occasional bass. Catfish in the evening. Bass better then too. If he is bass fishing in a boat, tell him to hit the edges of the lilly pads all around the lake.” It was great fun to fish here and I would enjoy trying to work the lake from one of the rowboats.

ABK and small-mouth bass

Small-mouth bass caught from the dock at Crystal Lake.

Catfishing and Bluegill Fishing in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, July 4, 2016

Front Street dock

Front Street dock on the Cuyahoga River. Source: http://coastal.ohiodnr.gov

 

We fished from the nice t-shaped dock at 1160 Front St. Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221. The dock itself was a mere 5 minute walk from the ample parking lot.

This outing was a major disappointment. We were well-rigged for channel catfish (hot dog, shad, cat-chow bait) and got nothing in 2+ hours.

We caught one tiny bluegill on bobbered red worm, and whiffed in our attempts to get bass bites on rubber worms. The others fishing from the dock also got only small bluegill, and few at that.

Possibly, there is a good fishing spot not far from this location. I have have read a couple reports about good bass fishing near the Ohio Edison Dam.