Go Fish

Graveyard Tourism

By Steve Chaconas

Mallows Bay is a really cool spot on the Potomac River. Loaded with the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the US from the Revolutionary War to the present with over 200 known vessels. It is the final resting places for World War I wooden steamships, and numerous Native American and Civil War archaeological sites! And yes, there’s bass fishing.


A group of 32 participants from 13 different sectors, including: paddlers and paddle outfitters, fishing and hunting guides, recreational and commercial fishers, law enforcement, local government, resource & park managers, tribal experts, historians, and local citizens, shared notes on Potomac River usage. The Mallows Bay-Potomac River Recreational Use Mapping Workshop was held all-day in June at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, MD.  Using Participatory Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology mapping, the participants provided detailed locations on how areas on the middle Potomac River, particularly in the vicinity of Mallows Bay, are being used, for what purpose, and times of year. Precise locations along the river from the 301 Bridge north to Marshall Hall were circled with an electronic pen and instantly entered into a GIS system to expedite the data collection. This technology speeds up the post-processing time and allows documentation of more thorough and accurate information since the polygons are exactly what the participants drew.


Central to the exercise was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) application for Mallows Bay, the first in the Chesapeake Bay region to be nominated as a National Marine Sanctuary (NMS). This would enable NOAA to serve as the trustee for the nation’s system of marine protected areas, to conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity and cultural legacy. The focus was on activities above, below and including Mallows Bay. To be noted, once nominated, a separate public process often takes several years to complete. Thus far, NOAA has determined the Mallows Bay nomination has successfully met the national significance criteria and management considerations. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Fellow Kimberly Hernandez says, “If the Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary nomination is moved into the next phase of the designation process, this data will be used by Steering Committee partners and the local community to inform future planning and development of the proposed sanctuary and highlight how the area is already rich in recreational resources.”


Co-hosting this event with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources was the Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary Steering Committee. Committee member Tom Roland, also Chief of Charles County Parks & Recreation, was the resource for the County Park and outdoor recreation. Many attendees were in awe of the numerous interests focused on the middle section of the river. This meeting served to document and prioritize precise locations of the vast historical, cultural, recreational and educational opportunities present in Middle Potomac River area. Roland says, “All of these resources are directly correlated to our efforts at Mallows Bay and will certainly strengthen our nomination to include Mallows Bay as one of the Nation’s next designated National Marine Sanctuaries.”  He also believes the mapping exercise will provide an understanding of the general recreational use throughout this section of the river, aiding in planning, establishing priorities and the development/management of associated outdoor recreational amenities.


Roland wrapped up the meeting saying it “… demonstrated clearly that government agencies need to actively engage our constituents in the overall planning process for parks and resource protection. The amount of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm brought to the table by the stakeholders was absolutely astounding.”


The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary will guarantee that this incredible marine landscape will be here for future generations. Roland adds the designation (only 14 others currently exist) will bring national and international attention to Mallows Bay and the Potomac River for expanded outdoor recreation opportunities, education, historical interpretation and scientific research in this section of the river. Bottom line, the Potomac’s economic resources will boom through tourism-related activities. More importantly, no changes are foreseen affecting recreational or fishing access and there would be possible Federal funding to maintain Mallows Bay for future generations.


Final map products will be made publicly available on Maryland’s Coastal Atlas, an online map viewer with downloadable data available to the public (http://gisapps.dnr.state.md.us/coastalatlas/iMap-master/basicviewer/index.html)


Potomac River Bassing in AUGUST


Grass fishing is key! Topped out grassbeds open up hollow frog, toad and mat-punching fishing!


Mann’s Hollow NEW Goliath frogs on 60-pound GAMMA Torque Braid are perfect over matted grass. Also try toad style soft plastics with a Mustad Ultra Point Swimbait hook. Using a weighted hook will allow the bait to go faster and cast further!


In open areas without grass, try Lucky Craft Gunfish walkers and G-Splash poppers, perfect for clear and calm water with overcast skies! Walk the dog with the Gunfish and don’t stop when fish strike! They will come back. For poppers, pop and stop, varying retrieves until a cadence produces. Also try Mann’s Waker over cover.


Follow-up with weightless stickworms like Mann’s 5-inch HardNose Freefall worm on 10-pound test GAMMA Edge Fluorocarbon line for missed bites! Wacky rig with 2/0 Mustad RED Octopus hooks.


Mann’s Baby 1-Minus crankbaits, in craw and baitfish patterns will work over wood and grass. For line, 12-14 pound test Edge on a KVD Quantum cranking rod. Mann’s Reel N’ Shad is deadly this time of year.


Pitch Mizmo tubes on 3/0 Mustad Tube hooks on 14-pound Edge to docks and wood at higher tides, and then grass during every tidal phase. Use scents like garlic Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Also try swimming jigs like Mann’s Stone Jigs with a HardNose Reel’ N Shad around cover.


Using ¾ to 1-ounce Round Valley Tungsten weights with 60-pound Torque braid, use a strong Mustad Grip Pin Flippin hook, punch through thick grass mats.


Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & contributing writer for BoatU.S. (BoatUS.com) Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.

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