Scoring Bluegill, Pumpkin Seeds, Small-mouth Bass, and Channel Catfish Near DuPont Circle

kevin-kosar-dupont-circle-fishing-10-2016Talk about urban fishing!

One can fish Rock Creek under the Lauzun’s Legion Bridge. There’s a slab where one can drop a line into the water about eight feet below. Pumpkinseed are plentiful, and bluegill also can be found. (Both can be used as bait for catfish.) They hit worms very hard, and can be landed with bread or dough balls too. A bobber can scare them away, so consider just dangling your bait in there and watching them come and strike.

Go here when the weather is above 50 degrees, otherwise you may not find fish here—the water is only a few feet deep. (Come winter fish move to deeper water that is less brisk.)

I have frequently seen small-mouth bass and small catfish (maybe 15 inches) in the water, but they have proven very leary to respond to the various lures and baits I have tossed their way.

Catfishing on the Potomac River Near the Watergate, January 29, 2017

catfishing-near-the-watergate-01-29-2017Metropolitan Angler, who posts videos on YouTube, fishes here. He brought in at least two blue catfish that were 24 inches or more on January 20, 2017. (The temperature that day was about 45 degrees.)

So I decided to give it a try on January 29, 2017. I am very glad I went.

It was 45 degrees and overcast, and the tide was very low. One can park at Thompson’s boathouse (there are meters) or on Virginia Ave NW. One walks on the sidewalk through the intersection of Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Ave NW toward the Watergate and Kennedy Center—the spot is only a couple hundred feet past the intersection.

My expectations were low, but I had a good hour of fishing. I rigged four rods: 2 steel helicopter rigs that each had two 4/0 circle hooks baited with thawed cut sunfish and a 3-ounce pyramid sinker. The other two rods had my standard catfish rig with an 8/0 circle hook rig baited with Surgitube bag jammed with chicken liver and a 3-ounce flat sinker.

In short, both rigs and baits proved attractive to catfish. We were there only one hour but caught an approximately 12-pound blue catfish (on the sunfish) and had bites (on the sunfish and the chicken livers twice).

Be careful—there is no rail and the drop to the water is at least 10 feet if not more (when the tide is out). This is no place for toddlers or young kids.

And forget bringing a net, unless it has an unbelievably long handle. The water is way beneath your feet, so best to use very heavy line (25-pound or more) because hauling a thrashing catfish up through the air puts huge strain on your line.

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.)

Salmon and Bass Fishing in Traverse City, Michigan, October 24, 2016

boardman-river-traverse-cityLet me state up front: I caught no fish. This was not surprising seeing as the weather was cold (40s) and blustery, and I had no salmon lures. I also had only had a few hours as I was in Traverse for an alcoholic beverages conference. (Really.)

But, oh, most definitely there are fish to be had in Traverse City. Plenty.

Small-mouth are in the Boardman River year ’round. Trout also can be found. (That there are two fly fishing shops in downtown Traverse City is no accident.) Hannah Park is one place to score bass. There are plenty of good spots to cast from, and it is a short walk from the Park Place Hotel. Go west on E. State St, turn left on S. Union, then right on 6th. Voila!

Especially exciting is that salmon and steelheads run in the late summer and early autumn. My late October arrival came at the end of the run. I did get to hang out with two locals and watch them pull three 30- to 36-inch salmon from the Boardman, which snakes right through town. These guys were landing the salmon behind Front Street between Cass and S. Union Streets. Shiny spoons (maybe 3- or 4-inches in size) scored two of the salmon. They also were chucking various hard baits that look like thin or fat minnows. Seeing a hooked salmon leap from the water was really something.

I must get back there. The chance to score a salmon and then stroll to one of Traverse City’s pubs or eateries afterward is too appealing to be resisted.

salmon-spoon

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.

How to Tie a Simple Catfish Rig

Kosar Simple Catfish Rig 10-31-2016.jpgThere are various ways to tie catfish rigs. I used to use helicopter rigs because they are absurdly easy to tie and require only two things—a sinker and a hook. I first learned how to do one from this video.

But, the more I fished the Potomac River and Tidal Basin, the more I grew annoyed with helicopter rigs because they tend to get twisted—the hook portion of the line gets wrapped around the sinker line due to the water current. Don’t get me simple wrong—helicopter rigs are a fine way to start, and they can be used if you are short on gear (like if you’re in a boat and lose a nice rig and have insufficient materials to re-rig.). And helicopter rigs can work great if you buy some additional materials that keep the lines from twisting around each other. (See this photo. And, yes, some folks put the weight above the hook and others below it.)

This is sometimes called a “zero rig“—but I refer to it as a simple catfish rig because is shows  simple, clean profile—a single line with the hook at the end and a single sinker. here’s a 4-minute video I made showing how to make this rig. Below the video you will see links that will enable you to buy the various components (circle hook, flat sinkers, Lindy plastic beads, and 30- or 40-pound monofilament line).

I advise tying 3 or more of these rigs before you go to fish. Then clip them on to a swivel clip that’s attached to your reel line. This enables you to bait up quickly, and to replace a rig if one gets lost (due to a snag) or damaged. Enjoy!

How to Catch Catfish at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC

kosar-channel-catfish-tidal-basinPreviously, I wrote about fishing the Tidal Basin. The more I fish there, the more I am impressed.

There are so many fish. One can catch four types of catfish (blue, channel, flathead, and black bull), along with needlenose gar, bass (small-mouth and large-mouth), bluegill, crappie, golden redhorse, shad, perch, and stripers.

kosar-tidal-basin-fishing

Catfish Tips (including recommended bait and gear):

  1. The bite waned during the scorching temperatures in August. All I can guess is that the catfish fell into a heat-induced stupor. Conversely, the bite improved on the mornings when the temperature had suddenly dropped 10 degrees or more relative to the previous morning. (E.g., On Monday September 12, 2016 it was in the mid 60s whereas the morning before it was 75.)
  2. Once autumn’s chill hit, the catfish bit less often. Were they chilling far out in the center and deeper parts of the Basin? Beats me. Days when it was gray, breezy, and in the 50s the catfish were few. But, the catfish awoke on days when the thermometer rose above the mid-60s. Windy weather has been tough for fishing—the water flows faster, which disperses the scent of your bait and making it difficult for catfish to detect.
  3. In terms of bait, chicken livers have proven consistently successful. (Yes, cut bluegill also gets hits—but not as consistently in my Basin experience.) To keep the livers on a circle hook (size 8/0), wrap it with Atlas Mike’s Miracle Fishing Thread. Or, slip liver into Surgitube gauze before popping it on a hook. (Instructions on how to use Surgitube are in this short video.)
  4. A simple catfish rig uses 30-pound monofilament line, an 8/0 circle hook, a 3-ounce sinker, two plastic beads, and is topped with a double surgeon’s knot/loop. Here is my video showing how to make that kind of rig.
  5. The best spots I’ve found for catfishing the Basin are marked on this map with X’s.kosar-tidal-basin-catfishing-spots
  6. Parking: You can easily find free spots on Ohio Drive SW early in the morning—both before the little bridge at the southern end of the basin and past the bridge (just under the first big bridge across the Potomac).
  7. Cast a medium distance (50 feet). if you get no hits within 10 minutes, reel in and cast farther out. After 30 minutes, if you’ve not had any solid hits, then move to another spot and put out fresh bait.
  8. After you cast out and let the put your fishing pole in a hole and/or use a prop rod.
  9. Clip a bell on the end of the rod, and wait and watch. When a hit comes, the bell will jingle. Don’t touch the rod until it is bent over for a few seconds—this signals that the circle hook has penetrated the fish’s cheek.
  10. Use a long-handled net to help lift the fish out—catfish can snap your line by thrashing as you lift them out of the water. Having a net around the fish reduces the strain on your fishing line and ensures the fish does not escape even if it does break your line. (Short-handled nets, by the way, are better to use when catfishing in a boat)

As a closer, here’s a video by a great catfisherman that shows you Tidal Basin catfishing.