Fishing Diamond Teague Park In Washington, DC

Kosar channel catfish 09-03-2017One word: catfish! Well, o.k., you can also snag bass, crappie, and bluegill at Diamond Teague Park. But I come for the catfishing.

Diamond Teague Park’s is located right behind the Washington Nationals’ stadium. It is open dawn until dusk.

Folks can rent kayaks and canoes there, and do. I inevitably fish from the dock, and not once have I been skunked in the 20 or so visits. Which is why I love the place. The view of the Anacostia and southern DC also is grand, and there are bars and eateries within walking distance.

Often the catfish are small: 12-16 inches, so do bring 4/0 circle hooks in case your 6/0 hooks are getting hits but not hook-ups. But bigger fish also can be had. Today, we had three cats 24-28″ in a 10-minute span. I used this Santee rig and this chicken stink bait. I twice have experimented here with fishing for catfish with a big slide bobber—it worked, although not as well as bottom-fishing with Santee rigs.

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Buh-bye to Chicken Livers: Or How to Make Cheap, Effective, and Durable Catfish Bait


I have gone through a lot of tubs of chicken livers over the past few years. They are an effective catfish bait. And at $2 for a small tub at the grocery store, well, who is to complain.

But, I am moving past chicken livers. Their biggest problem is that fish can tear them off easily. Oh, sure, there are various ways to keep them on hook. Atlas Mike’s Miracle Thread is best solution, because all you need do is wrap this elastic thread around the hooked liver. Easy-peasy, and it keeps the liver on longer while putting no barriers between the bait and the fish. I tried the egg loop knot, curing the livers into leathery medallions, and various other tricks. None of these worked great for me. Drying the livers made them less appealing to catfish. Putting the bait in little Surgitube bags and the like also weakened the bait’s draw, and was time-consuming.

Certainly, whenever I can catch bluegill or other baitfish, I’ll use those to chase catfish. But I do not have an easy source for bluegill nearby, and I’m not quite fish-crazy enough to establish a bluegill fish tank in my home.

So, my new go-to bargain bait is cheap chicken meat. You can get nearly expired thighs or breast boneless meat for a couple bucks a pound. Combine it with garlic powder (also cheap) and cherry or berry Kool-Aid (get a container of the generic version) and a bit of water in a Ziplock bag, and voila. You have a bait that brings in blue catfish and channel catfish. It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and keeps in the fridge for at least a week. No cooking of complex work is required. Just be sure to cut it into chunks appropriately sized for the hooks you are using. And if you have some old hot dogs, you can chop those into chunks and pitch those in the marinade.

This bait has not failed me, and I learned about it from an excellent catfisherman at Fletcher’s Cove in Washington, DC. That day I watched him land one hog after another, including one more than 40 pounds. Critically, this bait does not fall apart or tear of the hook. I’ve caught a couple of catfish on the same chunk of this bait. It works and it lasts, and that’s huge.

Kosar catfish 08-05-2017

How to Tie a Santee Rig for Catfish

This rigs is easy to tie, and it reduces snags and lost rigs by keeping your bait off the bottom. (When you cast, the peg floats on this rig slide to to swivel-clip/hook combo, and lift it off the bottom.) Links below will lead you to the materials you need to build this catfish rig.

40-pound monofilament: http://amzn.to/2xFk5la
Lindy beads: http://amzn.to/2iPyrfx
Swivel: http://amzn.to/2iRmN3J
Swivel with clip: http://amzn.to/2iRCMPr
Circle hook (6/0): http://amzn.to/2x02Z4t
3-inch peg floats: http://whiskerseeker.com/catfish-peg-floats/

As I note in the video, this rig also has the advantage of allowing you to easily switch hook size while you are fishing, in case the fish are bigger or smaller than you expect. If you are getting lots of bites but not lots of hook-ups, it might be the circle hook is too big to set. So unclip the hook and pop on a new one.

The barrel swivel at the top can be either tied or hooked to a swivel-clip  on the line running to your reel. The latter is my preference, as it means I can easily remove the rig to wash and store it. (Walking to or from your fishing hole with a big rig bouncing on your rod is not good. It strains your line and sometimes snap it.)

If you do not want to tie your own Santee rig, WhiskerSeeker tackle carries them: http://whiskerseeker.com/catfish-rigs-lures-floats/

WhiskerSeekerSanteeRig.jpg

Now, you might ask: so do you use a sinker with a Santee rig? Yes, you do. The sinker can be attached to the line running to your reel (not the rig!) I prefer to clip my sinker to one of these sliders, which you install just above the swivel clip: http://amzn.to/2exPXUr You can swap different sinker sizes on with ease, depending on the current’s strength. Put a Lindy bead between the swivel-clip’s knot and the slider to protect the knot from trauma.

For those of you who have not used a slider before, one thing you need to get used to is that tightening your line after casting is different. Without a slider, you cast, let the bait and sinker sink, then close your reels’ bail and reel until the line is straight-line tight. You can’t do that here. If you try to reel taut you’ll drag your bait to the slider/sinker combination, which is not ideal. Instead, you need to reel so the line is not really slack, then close your bail.

Kosar sinker slider 09-01-2017

Catching Bluegill and Sunfish in the C&O Canal


I enjoy fishing for carp in the C&O Canal, but one needs to pass the time while waiting for the bell on the rod to ring. Sitting and staring at the carp rod for a half hour or more is a formula for madness.

So, why not cast for bluegill and sunfish, who can be taken on bobbered worms on little hooks (size 6)? These panfish are feisty little fighters, and they can be kept and used for catfish bait.

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.

Fly Fishing for Trout in Hot Springs, Virginia, March 24, 2017

Kosar wild torut caught 03-24-2017a

My first rainbow trout. Photo credit: Kevin R. Kosar

I tried fly fishing for the first time yesterday. Boy is it different from chucking for bass or going deep for catfish.

To give me half a chance of succeeding, I hired an Orvis-trained guide from Allegheny Activities in the Homestead, a grand old hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia.

I was outfitted with chest-high waders and an Orvis 8’6″ 5-wt Clearwater rod.

We fished the Cascades Stream in five different spots. I scored a young, wild rainbow trout, and got hits a half-dozen other times. I had a big trout on my hook for 45 seconds or so, but lost him because I had the line too tight. (He swam upward and popped the hook out.)

The pointers I picked up up from Chris, my unbelievably knowledgeable guide, include:

  1. Trout eat year round and can be fished year round.
  2. Trout love bugs, especially the bugs that are alive and active at the time of year when you are fishing. (Different bugs, different stages of life—hence oodles of flies in the fly fisherman’s arsenal.)
  3. Fishing on cloudy days is preferable — trout have very good eyes, and if they see you they won’t bite.
  4. The thinner the line at the end, the less visible it is to the trout. So a fly rod will have three different lines: the thick very visible fly line, the much thinner leader and the still thinner tippet (to which the fly is tied).
  5. Trout like heavily oxygenated water—which can be found right after a rapids area. They almost inevitably face upstream, waiting for the current to bring them something tasty.
  6. Throw your fly upstream and the trout will charge forward for it or watch it go by and double downstream to chase it.
  7. After you cast upstream, flip the line to create a pocket of line that will float the fly downstream. When the fly has drifted by, slowly lift it from the water and keep an eye out for pursuit strikes.
  8. Try dry flies if the trout look like they are biting at the surface; try nymphs to see if they want to hit beneath the water. (Again, pay attention to the bugs—are they hovering over the water? And turn over some rocks in the stream to see what nymphs are under them, and choose a nymph fly that looks like them. If a bee or yellow jacket nest hangs above the water, don;t be surprised if you see trout hanging out beneath it waiting for a stinging bug to bumble into the water. Try a fake bee or yellow jacket fly.)
  9. Streamers are used when you want to elicit an underwater bite through busy action. (Here is a good primer.) To create movement and rises and falls in the streamer, one strips (pull in) line with the left hand (use your right index finger or pinky to keep the slack line you’re bringing in from fouling the reel.
  10. Dry flies can get soaked with water and start sinking. So, false-cast the fly quickly through the air, whipping it back and forth.
  11. When fishing nymphs or streamers, you the newbie should use a strike detector—a small float place a good ways up the line. Seeing an underwater fly is very tough—hence the strike detector, which will dive or jerk sharply when there is a hit.
  12. Speaking of a hit, when it happens quickly pop your wrist upright to set the hook, and maintain some tension as you wear the trout down as it runs. The fly line at the end is very lightweight and can snap if you yank it.
  13. If the stream is running quickly, it may be hard to get the nymphs or streamers down low to where the trout are. So, tiny split shot lead sinkers may be added up the line.
  14. I imagined that fly fishing for trout inevitably meant casting into shallow waters. This was not entirely right. My guide Chris had me work one spot that was 18-foot deep. We used a hefty streamer and splits shots and we let the fly drift then sink 6 to 10 feet down. I got bites during the initial drop, and also deep down. That’s where I got hold of a big trout that I kept on hook for 45 seconds or so.
  15. Wet your hands before handling a trout—it has oil on its body that can be damaged by dry hands. Lift the fish with your palms up. Return it to the water promptly with its face upstream, and hold it above the tail until it is strong enough to take off.

There are innumerable other tips and such, but this is what I presently recall from yesterday’s trip. If I got anything wrong or if you want to share any tips, please post below.

Kosar wild torut caught 03-24-2017b.jpg