Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fly Fishing In The Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.

Here are some of my notes from my recent podcast. In addition, here are some pictures from fly fishing in the tidal basin. 

The Fly Fishing Consultant Podcast is produced by Freestone Media 

What is the Tidal Basin and where is it? 

  • 4 leaf clover shaped retaining pond
  • One way gates allow water to flow in and out
  • Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, carp, koi, gar, needlefish, American shad, hickory shad, gizzard shad, blueback herring, alewife, crappie, white perch, yellow perch, snakehead, pumpkinseed, long ear sunfish, bluegill, channel cats, blue cats, redfish
  • Open 24hrs a day, free access. Parking is limited along West Potomac Park. Take the metro or ride a bike
  • Elevated cement sidewalk lines the basin with a cement wall as the shoreline
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Water fountains
  • Hot dog vendors, concessions (beer?)
  • It is illegal to guide for profit in the Tidal Basin
  • Paddle boats.

How To Fish
  • You need a DC license. I have been told by cops that  you need 1 per 3 anglers but don’t rely on that
  • Bait (use spam), spin/bait caster, fly
  • Walk the whole thing. I take 3 hours to do the circuit (which is the limit for parking)
  • Tidal basin is a giant nursery for fish fry. You might see a school of shad fry go by of thousands of fish
  • The water is calm, with about 1’ visibility at high tide
  • Fish along the walls
  • Fish under your feet
  • Fish the moving tide
  • Fish the high tide under the trees
  • Fish the floods
  • Spin gear can get further out into water
  • Roll cast or cast parallel to shore
  • Careful not to damage cherry trees
  • Walk the edges- there is no wading which is a FAQ, follow the concrete path that goes around it
  • No need for waders, willies are great at high tide
  • Don’t fish near the paddle boats, this is marked by signs
  • Watch the English guys with their roach poles near Kutz bridge
  • Talk to others that are fishing, talk to Harry
  • Only need three flies. Clouser minnow, bead head nymph, popping bug
  • High tide and rain will congregate on the trail
  • Find the structure – fallen trees that have gotten in, loose rocks, pipes, flotsam
  • Watch you head-low branches
  • Big largemouth will be in there in the spring to spawn. They will eat anything that looks like a white perch
  • Watch out for tourists
  • Rods – nothing under a 5wt. You don’t know what you might catch
  • Line – floating for the most part
  • Flies – Clouser or popper with bead head nymph dropper
  • Use up to 20lb tippet
  • Pack a lunch. It’s a great picnic spot
  • Spouse can hang out while you fish
  • Lots of helicopters flying overhead
  • Birding – bald eagles, cormorants, pigeons, geese, duck terns, herons, egrets, osprey
  •  Don’t lose your keys

How to deal with gapers
  • Tell them what’s in the water
  • Ask where they are from. I’ve taught Palestinians, French, French Guyanna and more to fish
  • Tell them it’s not a cess pool
  • Tell them you don’t eat the fish
  • Tell them to look down on the Ohio Drive bridge
  • Pose with them
  • There are more of them around spring break and during summer. New MLK has increased foot traffic. That also means less parking due to tour busses
  • Its Freaking crowded as a crowd can
  • One angler wears ear buds plugged into his pocket. This way gapers don't bother him.

My first clients ever at the TB
"King Of The Nibblers"
POTUS flying in


Professional soccer player meets people in blue paint for colon cancer awareness

Trolling on way back to starting point = first schoolie

Palestinian tourist wanted to learn to fish. She caught a bluegill
Her Bf

Smallest fish on a fly rod ever?
Mickey with a nice smallie. We got eaten alive by bugs that day
Dead snakehead next to a 5wt rod

stupid needlefish

Gaper bridge
My best schoolie

Cats and carp and gar and goldfish at my feet in the flood

My 1st snakehead 34"

Koi  goldfish ?

Basil  caught 5 of these in about an hour his reaction "fly fishing isn't that hard" we broke off a dozen more before we switched to 20lb tippet

4' gar at my feet

I pulled out this lone duck by my hand

Reminds me of this painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Floral abscission looked like pink snow

·       Historical Images Via via


  1. Have you been fishing in that area in the fall? I'd like to try fishing there, but I'm not a fly fisher/ angler.

  2. Thanks for the tips & tricks you have you shared, it will help many fishing enthusiast like me. Keep up the good work.

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  3. I'm really thankful that you post some tips on how to fish and it's really helpful for a beginner like me. I will try my luck to catch my first fish at this Fishing Place.

  4. New Mills Fun Fishing Pond is perfect for the novice, young or old! Fun for all the family, whether you have fished before or not and don’t worry, we´ll supply everything you need and show you how to catch and take home that elusive first fish.