The Potomac River is one of the most underrated fisheries in the country. In the upper limits of our nation’s capital, you can park along the C&O; canal and wade or canoe the shallows of the Potomac from June to October. You’ll find good sport with the 10- to 15-inch smallmouth bass hidden behind every rock near the Beltway Bridge. Downstream, the river becomes tidal, which means you’ll encounter perch, herring, American and hickory shad, and striped bass. You can fish from shore in the Chain Bridge area, where the water violently rips through the gorge. Or rent a rowboat from Fletcher’s Boat House (202-244-0461) for $20, anchor up, and catch stripers all day long.
Near Georgetown, where the marshland was filled in the 1700s, you’ll find the occasional striper lurking around structure, but from Key Bridge on down, largemouth bass predominate. Two Bassmasters tournaments have been held in this part of the river, and the first President Bush was known to make a cast here while in office. An added bonus is the Constitution Gardens Pool on the Mall near the Vietnam Memorial, where you’ll find bass, sunfish, and catfish. Just watch for tourists on your back cast. Contact the Angler’s Lie, 703-527-2524; anglerslie.com.