LOU Fishing Report for Week Ending 72620
Mailing Address: 4708 Sellman Road, Beltsville, MD 20705
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Ken Wrote “The Books” on Regional Fishing.
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Tidal Potomac River <> Upper Potomac River <> Susquehanna River
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It’s July 27 as I write this report and while my theme is “fishing,” my reality is “weather.” Hot weather, actually record-breaking heat. Today the DC area has already tied the all-time record and we have 4 more to go—so be assured that the Washington DC region will set a new record for 90-degree days in the Months of July. Those temper-tantrum storms didn’t do a thing for river levels and certainly not for water temperature which averages mid-80s. Yep—that’s why it’s called the Dog Days-“the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
The typical “slow-down” of fish activity during these periods can be misunderstood because aquatic inhabitants require more food when it’s warm—than when it’s cold. The “slow-down” is simply “huge amounts of food spread over huge amounts of habitat.
We didn’t do many trips this week for that reason but we seldom do anyway because this has been traditionally—Youth Camp Month when Ken and counselors escort good boys to Ken’s lodge in northern PA for weekly sessions of shooting and fishing arts.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: (Seneca to Brunswick) *; clear; algae; mid 80s; bacteria alert
Just so we understand, those 30,000 young smallmouth bass that MDNR stocked a few weeks ago is a drop in a bucket—but still a good thing. Keep on it and keep it up.
Good wet-wading levels but stay out if you have open wounds because the bacteria levels are sky-high and while scarce—flesh-eating bacteria is certainly a factor.
Except for sunstroke advocates—dawn to noon is best and again from 6-PM dill dark. Try float trips like Whites Ferry to Edwards Ferry or Brunswick to Lander or Point of Rocks. Dress to get wet because odds are you will have to get in the water a few times.
Savvy boaters can still “pick their battles” in jet boats but this is boat-busting time so be careful.
Nothing beats a Whopper Plopper in the morning (order from Tackle Warehouse on line) and Case Magic Stiks and Campground Special tubes all day. Fish the shade side when you can but always fish submersed ledges.
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: **-***; mid 80s; hydrilla everywhere; algae color
In Washington DC, you may want to try the areas above Key Bridge in the mornings where smallmouth bass and an occasional walleye may be caught on Jerk Baits, 1.5 crankbaits, Case Magic Swim and Campground tubes. Its allm6-MPH here so heed the law and appreciate the lack of fishermen.
Rip Rap at Bolling AFB and the airport always a good bet. Look to the Washington Channel for stripers and catfish that love crankbaits and Big Mouth spinnerbaits and vibrating jigs.
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge (BLM and Antifa may be planning on burning it lol) suffers from too much food and way-too-much habitat—but tie on a Bomber Firetiger crankbait—or a Big Mouth Big Shaky and antagonize the bass in their bedrooms.
Pomonkey Creek & Pohick Bay are fishing similar—where wood and weeds dominate but docks and rocky banks cannot not be neglected. Hard to beat a swim worm here but Wacky-rig a Magic Stik or cast a Big Mouth Sweetheart spinnerbaits.
Mattawoman & Chickamuxen Creeks have common denominators but Mattawoman seems to have more snakeheads but more anglers too. Use the tides in either: stay out front during high water—fish well into the creeks during med-falling to low water. Take the skirt off of a Big Mouth buzzbait and place a Case frog in its place.
SUSQUEHANNA & JUNIATA RIVERS (lower Juniata; Montgomery Ferry to Harrisburg mainstem);
From the York Daily Record:
Fish on! For the first time in almost 20 years the state Fish and Boat Commission has found the smallmouth bass population to be doing very well in the Susquehanna River just in time for the fishing season to begin.
Commission biologist Geoff Smith presented his research on the causes of the population decline that struck the smallmouth bass in the early 2000’s until recently.
In a public event recently held by the Susquehanna chapter of Trout Unlimited, Smith’s research showed a promising sign of the growing number of bass and where the best places are to have a shot at catching them.
Once a booming population with numbers above 200 fish in the Susquehanna, Smith has researched and recorded his findings as to what happened to cause a massive decline in 2005. There were less than 50 and nearing a total population loss in the Pennsylvania river system at that time. Smith came away with four main causes for the decline and a speculation that may have caused such a wide spread disease among the population.
Dating back to September of 2004, Smith believes Hurricane Ivan could have been the beginning of what brought in the diseases.
Although that cause couldn’t be prove, what could was all four diseases. “These diseases targeted younger fish and had higher fatality rates during normal stream flow and higher temperatures,” Smith said. These diseases coincided with the perfect conditions for the spawning period– no young fish to spawn with smaller spawns.
The first disease Smith and the commission encountered was an Endocrine Disruption. Young male fish Smith caught showed signs of female egg cells in the male reproductive system. The mix of male and female reproduction systems did not cause the fish to become asexual, but to become infertile and fail to reproduce, lowering the possibility of improve population numbers.
Another disease Smith encountered was a Myxozoan Parasite. Believed to have a correlation with agriculture around the Susquehanna River, the parasite infested itself in a part of the smallmouth bass body and appeared as a white ring. As the parasite grew, it restricted the infection part of the body and when the parasite left, it would dismember the part it attached to.
Smith and the commission also encountered two viruses that impacted the population. The largemouth bass virus (LMBV) and a cold-water virus.
Known to not have an impact on smallmouth bass, the largemouth bass virus may have mutated with the increase in temperatures in recent years, when water temperatures rose to above 73 degrees, it allowed the mutation to occur and affect the smallmouth population.
The cold-water virus was a late addition to Smith’s encounters as he found bass developing unusual black spots. With some added research, Smith was able to determine when the water temperature drops and maintains a low temperature through the winter and spring months the virus increased the melanin production similar to sunbathing for humans. Although it seemed harmless, the virus caused the bass to change colors and often turned black.
With over 15 years of data collected and monitoring of the smallmouth bass species, Smith noted a resurgence in the population beginning in 2018 and now with two full spawning periods, the population is continually getting back to normal levels as Smith projects the population is back above the 200 mark, just in time for the season to begin.
There’s a (cat)ch
Although increasing populations of smallmouth bass is a good thing, increased numbers are not inherently a positive sign.
Flathead catfish were found to be growing at an exponential rate in the Susquehanna River since being first introduced accidentally in 2002.
Although a blast to catch, they are an invasive species from the Chesapeake Bay area. These catfish are primary predators to anything swimming in the warmer sections of the Susquehanna.
Flatheads were found to hang around the river dams, feeding primarily on red breast sun fish. While smallmouth bass are not one the flathead catfish menu, the warmer spring weather may cause the catfish to invade more of the waterways, Smith said the cathfish were not found in the West Branch and Lycoming Creek yet, they may be on the way.
What started in 2019, the commission found it was more beneficial to the Muskellunge species to be stocked in the spring, rather that the winter as in the past.
Smith and the commission found the muskie population had higher survival rates and catches were larger when the fish were farmed during the winter months and released in the spring.
While the cost to hold more over the winter drives up the cost to farm, Smith and the commission believes with the right funding its can continue to stock muskie in the spring for a better fishing season.
You draw your own conclusions but “how the hell can we be at such odds with the Department charged with caring for our river inhabitants. We disagreed with the Arway closure because we were catching kore fish in years when they were saying there were no bass.
Now, they are saying there is plenty of bass and good men struggle daily for meager results.
. LOU Guides for 2020
Captain Ken Penrod: (National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame) Cell: 240-447-2206; firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook; LinkedIn; Instagram, Twitter @ken_penrod.
Tidal Potomac; Upper Potomac; Susquehanna River; Juniata River; Maryland Eastern Shore Tidal Rivers; George Stevenson Reservoir and trout streams in Cameron County, PA-near Sinnamahoning..
Captain Dave Kerrigan, VP of Smallmouth Operations @ 301-252-5322;
Captain Brian Barnes @ 302-745-4668,
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