Talk to any DC angler and you’ll hear the same story: there’s a lot more to the Capital than just history and politics. Nestled on the mighty Potomac, the District is home to some truly epic fishing grounds. From wetting the line under the city’s iconic skyline, to angling around the secluded honey-holes of the DMV, fishing near DC has everything an angler could hope for.
The way we see it, there are two ways you can enjoy the local fishing scene. One, you can drop a line from one of Washington’s very own fishing hotspots. Or two, you can make a day out of it and enjoy some of the best fishing spots Maryland and Virginia have to offer. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
The places we’re about to show you aren’t just great fishing spots, mind you. These locales are ideal choices for social distancing, having fun in the outdoors, and staying active and healthy. But hey, if you ever fished before, we’re guessing you know something about that already.
Smack in the middle of the city, Fletcher’s Cove is well-known among DC fishing enthusiasts. Some say this place boasts an angling tradition spanning over 150 years. We’re not here to give you a history lesson – the Cove sure has the fish to support the claim.
Fletcher’s Cove spring Shad runs are legendary amongst local anglers. Rockfish swarm the place in the summer, and there’s a healthy serving of Bass, too. Add Catfish to the mix and you’ve got yourself a spot well worthy of a visit.
Most anglers wet their lines from the shore, but you can also rent a kayak and throw yourself right into the action. If you need to stock up, check out the local bait and tackle shack. And when it’s time to give the reels a rest, the local picnic area offers plenty of tables and restrooms.
As Washington’s largest recreational area, Anacostia Park is the perfect place for a quick break from city life. The riverside esplanade features a long grassy bank, offering around 2 miles of uninterrupted access to the Anacostia River.
The rules say you can only practice catch and release around here, but with all the species on offer, you’ll still get to have loads of fun. You can hook into anything from Largemouth Bass and Catfish, to White and Yellow Perch and Carp.
Anacostia Park is one of the best places to take the family out on a picnic. Its recreational facility features a playground, tennis and basketball courts, as well as a picnic area with restrooms. There’s plenty of parking space available, but we recommend checking out which facilities are open before you head out.
Just a half-an-hour drive drive north from downtown DC, Clopper Lake is one of the most accessible fishing spots you’ll find. At the same time, it happens to be one of the most secluded. Part of the 6,300-acre Seneca Creek State Park, this place has everything an outdoor enthusiast could want.
Whether you want to lose yourself among the miles of woodland hiking trails, or just relax in one of the park’s many picnic pavilions, your dose of endorphin is guaranteed. The park’s boat rental station is currently closed, but you can still bring your own kayak or canoe and set off from one of the lake’s launch sites.
And when the time comes to fish, Clopper Lake packs a mighty punch. The fun starts with Pig Largemouths, and lots of them. If you’re looking for something with a little more brunt to it, Tiger Muskie will put your skills to the test. And if you’re fishing with kids, toss a few lines out for Bluegill or Crappie. The youngsters will absolutely love it.
Cunningham Falls State Park
We’re not exactly sure if Cunningham Falls State Park needs an introduction. What can you say about a place with a cascading waterfall and a sandy beach on a picture-perfect lake you can also fish on? Well, a lot, but if you’re from DC and you have a heartbeat, chances are this delightful place is already on your map.
Snuggled between the beautiful Catoctin Mountains, Cunningham Falls State Park is one of Maryland’s favorite weekend getaways. At the heart of the park, the 44-acre Hunting Creek Lake offers anglers and watersports enthusiasts loads of opportunities for fun and excitement. You can hop on a canoe and drop a few lines, or try your luck from the shore.
If you’d like to escape the crowds, head to Big Hunting Creek. With Brown, Brook and Rainbow Trout swimming in these secluded waters, this place is a fly fisher’s dream. Keep in mind that the creek has a strict catch and release rule. If you’d like to catch a Trout you can keep, head to the nearby Owen’s Creek.
If you’re serious about angling, you know that nothing beats a visit to the Chesapeake Bay. The fish-filled expanse has held its legendary status for decades, and it so happens that one of its most productive fishing towns lies just 40 minutes away from DC.
Overlooking the bountiful Herring Bay, Deale is one of those places that have “fishing” written all over it. The town sits on four streams that run into the Bay, all of which offer their own angling prospects.
Deale’s fishing charters are spread across three expansive marinas. You can gear up at the local tackle shop if you need to, and then it’s off to the races!
You can dip your toes with a half day outing, or go all out on a full day adventure. Either way, you’ll get to enjoy some of the most iconic species the bay has to offer. From Striped Bass to Bluefish to Spanish Mackerel, White Bass and Black Drum, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Back on shore, you can unwind and enjoy the views from one Deale’s waterside restaurants. From fancy seafood eateries to down-to-earth crab houses, there’s something for everyone ‘round here.
Lake Burke Park
A half-an-hour drive drive south from DC will take you to one of the most scenic lakes in Virginia. Part of a 650-acre park, Lake Burke has everything you need for a perfect day in nature. In the era of social distancing, that sounds just like what the doctor ordered. But that’s not what earned it a spot on our list.
What did is the sheer variety of species you can catch here.
Start your day by searching the local honeyholes for hard-fighting Largemouths and Walleye. If you really want to stretch those fishing lines, the resident Muskies and Catfish will be happy to oblige. And if you’re visiting with kids, let them earn their stripes by battling the likes of Bluegill and White Perch.
The south side of the lake offers plenty of access points, including a handicapped-accessible fishing pier and a couple of boat ramps. In case you work up an appetite, the park’s concession stand will be able to sort you out. While you’re here, you can also stock up on bait and tackle if you need to.
The sporting opportunities on Lake Burke don’t stop with fishing, mind you. The park features a volleyball court, as well as a mini golf course. There are a handful of picnic areas you can enjoy, as well as several well-maintained walking trails. Before heading out, be sure to check the parks fees and regulations.
If you’ve got a free weekend coming up, we’ve got just the thing. A two hour drive from downtown Washington, Lake Anna is one of Virginia’s largest and most strikingly beautiful lakes. With “only” two thirds of the lake open to the public, you’re left with… oh, some 9,600 acres to fish and enjoy. Seriously, you won’t be struggling for elbow room around here.
You could say that the angling opportunities on Lake Anna are fitting for its size. Lunker Largemouth Bass are the signature species in these waters, but there’s also a good number of landlocked Stripers around. If you’re in it for the meal, drop a line or two for Black Crappie – you won’t regret it.
The two hour drive isn’t the only reason why you should spend the weekend on Lake Anna. Come to think of it, it would probably take you the same amount of time just to go through what you can do here. From horseback riding, to beach barbecues and swimming, the list of activities to enjoy is endless.
To spend the night, you can book one of the cozy lakeside cabins, or set up a tent at the local campsite. And of course, make sure to check the latest guidelines before you go.
Scratching the Surface
Between the bountiful Potomac, the fish-filled lakes and creeks of the DMV, and the iconic Chesapeake Bay, fishing near DC is an angler’s dream come true.
The spots we mentioned are a taste of what the area has to offer. Now it’s time to explore. So, grab your rod or find a charter near you and get ready for some incredible angling!
So there you have it. Those were our picks, but what are yours? What’s your favorite spot to fish near DC? Let us know in the comments below!