Potomac River

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Fishing in Potomac River

Fishing has been a big part of the Potomac River’s economy, recreation, and way of life throughout history. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the river or an action-packed adventure, there’s a little bit of something in store for everyone!

A variety of species inhabit the Potomac River, including Striped Bass (locally referred to as Rockfish), Snakehead, Perch, Catfish, and Trout. You’ll also find fisheries that hold solid numbers of Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Walleye, Muskellunge, Pike, and Freshwater Eel.

There are plenty of Potomac River fishing guides that provide a wide variety of packages, designed to meet your specific needs. Shorter trips are perfect for beginners, while longer trips are great for those looking to cover more ground and target a wider variety of fish.

Some towns to check out when planning your fishing trip are Washington, DC and Alexandria, VA. These cities in the middle of the Potomac have easy access to both the upper and lower part of the river. You can also find guides on the Potomac-Chesapeake Bay Delta. Trips around Tall Timbers and Leonardtown, MD are ideal for combining river and bay fishing. These are also great spots to go crabbing – an extremely fun activity for the whole family!

Rules & Regulations

If you’re over the age of 16, you’ll need to obtain a valid fishing license, regardless of whether you’re fishing in MD, VA, or DC. Keep in mind, certain species are subject to seasonality and cannot be targeted at certain times of the year. Just be sure to check with your guide before heading out as each state has its own specific laws and regulations that you’ll have to pay attention to.

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Potomac River Fishing Seasons

Most of the fish are sluggish this time of year but Catfishing is still solid. Target them under bridges and use a slip-sinker rig to get them out of their holes.

Largemouth Bass and Crappie fishing can reap some rewarding catches, especially in areas between Alexandria and Fort Washington. Catfishing is solid in many spots throughout the river as well.

As spring rolls around, the fishing really starts to heat up. Likely catches this month include Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, as well as Brown and Rainbow Trout.

As the water temperatures start to warm up, the fishing only gets better! In April you can expect to catch Snakehead, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow and Brown Trout, and Catfish.

May marks the beginning of Striper season. This fish is the pride and joy of the Potomac. You can target them throughout the river but head to the delta for the really big ones!

June is a pretty busy time in the nation’s capital, so be sure to plan your trip ahead of time. The fishing is great too. Striped Bass, Crappie, Perch, Snakehead, and Catfish are just some of the fish you can target this month.

Plan a trip around the Fourth of July and watch the Independence Day fireworks on the National Mall. When it comes to fishing, you can expect to catch Striped Bass, Rainbow Trout, Crappie, Snakehead, and Perch.

Head to the mouth of the river for a change of pace and target the likes of Cobia, Flounder, Redfish, and Black Drum. Plan a crabbing trip with the family for some famously delicious Maryland Blue Crab!

Fall is a great time for fishing on the Potomac River. In September, you’ll most likely be targeting Striped, Largemouth, and Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Perch, Snakehead, and Catfish.

Striped Bass and Crappie fishing remain hot throughout the fall. You can also target large numbers of Catfish and Snakehead in many spots along the river.

As the water temperatures cool off, so does the fishing. Lots of fish become lazy, except for Striped Bass, Catfish, and Crappie. You can also find solid numbers of Largemouth Bass near rocky or gravely banks of the river.

Cities and towns along the river are filled with holiday cheer! Plan your trip around Christmas time and be sure to check out the National Christmas Tree along with many other wintertime festivities.

Potomac River Fishing Calendar

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Top Targeted Species in Potomac River

Bass (Striped)

Bass (Striped)

Catfish

Catfish

Bass (Largemouth)

Bass (Largemouth)

Snakehead

Snakehead

Bass (Smallmouth)

Bass (Smallmouth)

Perch (Yellow)

Perch (Yellow)

Perch (Silver)

Perch (Silver)

Perch (White)

Perch (White)