Needed vegetation missing from Potomac River

Bass fishing guide Steve Chaconas says a lack of vegetation means fishing is better near docks, where fish go for cover. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON – Spring is here and nature is coming alive, but something that should be living in the Potomac River is not.

“The problem that we’re having now on the Potomac is that due to a lot of the past construction, due to the weather, the muddier water, we don’t have any sub-aquatic vegetation that usually appears from north of Washington, D.C., all the way south of Mount Vernon. There’s no grass growing this year,” says Potomac River bass fishing guide Steve Chaconas.

The grasses are important because they provide cover for small fish and help filter the water.

“If the water’s not clear then the grasses won’t grow, and if the grasses won’t grow to clear the water then we have even muddier water conditions,” Chaconas says. “And when you have that, the fish will move towards areas that are clear. And without the clear water, we’re kind of concerned about the condition of the river up on this end.”

Chaconas says he’s still catching plenty of fish — he’s just had to change his techniques to get them in his boat. For instance, he’s catching many by casting underneath docks.

“This has been one of the wackiest years I’ve ever fished on the Potomac because of the weather,” says Chaconas.

He says water temperatures in the river fluctuated a lot in recent months, and that’s likely confusing the fish. This is the time of year when bass get ready to spawn.

Chaconas says all types of trash still make it into the river, especially after it rains. Things like bottles and cans, candy wrappers and cigarette butts.

During a recent trip on his boat from the Belle Haven Marina in Alexandria, Va., and across the river to the Maryland side, Chaconas saw a car tire near the shoreline.

“Whether we use this resource or not, everybody impacts this resource in our daily lives and we need to pay more attention to it,” he says.

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