Prince George's County offers a variety of fishing spots that complement the county's rich diversity. Some have an "in town" feel where anglers can count on plenty of spectators from their hiking, biking, and dog walking neighbors. Others offer natural settings that make it possible to briefly forget that the nation's capital is only a few miles away.
(foreground), 9, of Riverdale Park casts his line May 3 at the Anacostia River Park in Hyattsville.
(On the cover) Martinez watches as his friend, Javier Ramirez,10, tries his luck catching one in the Anacostia River in
Allison Pasek/ The Gazette-The Star
The county offers a freshwater environment for every angler. Don Cosden, Southern Regional Manager for Freshwater Fisheries, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), says the agency tries to maintain balance in the fish population with its active stocking program.
Here are some of the best places to wet a line.
Northern Prince George's County
Rocky Gorge Reservoir
(north on Bond Mill Road from Route 198 to Supplee Landing). Obtain permit ($3) at Brighton Dam. The reservoir, operated by Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), offers the premiere game fishing in the county. Large tiger musky, northern pike, walleye, bass, and catfish are frequently brought in along with large catches of big crappies and sunfish and perch.
Boaters have an advantage, but a shore fisherman caught a 28-pound striped bass this year using chicken livers as bait.
"It's a nice park to come to," says Terri Ferrell, watershed patrol officer, who orients visitors at Brighton Dam. "It's patrolled on a regular basis. We don't go home at night until [we close] and everyone's off the water. It's a nice, clean, safe place."
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
(off Powder Mill Road, between the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 197). Cash Lake, created during the Depression for recreational fishing, holds bluegills, crappie, pumpkinseeds, bass, chain pickerel, and channel catfish. Recently drained and restocked, it reopens for fishing in June 2002. The center offers a National Fishing Week event on June 10, 2001, from 1 to 4 p.m., with fly fishing demonstrations and children's activities. For more information, call 301-497-5585.
Urban parks, lakes and ponds
Allen Pond, Bowie
(Northview off Mitchellville Road). The pond holds bass, bluegills, sunfish, crappie, and bullheads. DNR stocks it in the spring and fall with trout that are easily taken on worms and Power Bait. DNR's Don Cosden reports that trout average 11 inches but an occasional stocking will include a few "monsters" of three to four pounds that will hit Mepps spinners, rapalas, and rooster tails.
Lake Artemesia, College Park
(Branchville Road off Route 193, which becomes Ballew Avenue, to Berwyn Road). Artemesia holds several species, including bluegills, redears, and crappies, but largemouth bass are the house favorite. Recently Jim Stevens of Hyattsville and Francis Stranski III of Mount Rainier were fishing for bass with a blue plastic night crawler and a green plastic lizard, respectively. Crank baits, which usually are a heavy wood or plastic bait that looks like a minnow, small fish, frog, etc., will work fine for bass, they said, but "plastic is best."
Rick Eisenman of Beltsville agrees.
"I target for the bass. I'll catch a half dozen over 18 inches per year." He landed a 22-inch bass last summer.
Artemesia is a limited harvest area where anglers can retain 10 fish, only one of which can be a bass not exceeding 15 inches in length. Anglers cannot possess largemouth bass until June 16.
Artemesia is a "put and take" trout lake, which means that DNR stocks trout expecting them to be harvested the same season.
"These waters won't hold trout year 'round," Don Cosden explains. "We want people to catch them and take them home because they won't survive and spawn."
The lake also is stocked with tiger musky, a hybrid of the muskellunge and northern pike. DNR tallied a 36-inch tiger musky here in one survey.
Greenbelt Lake, Greenbelt
(Crescent Road east of Kenilworth). Greenbelt Lake offers the same species as Artemesia with "put and take" trout and tiger musky stocking.
Ron Thomas of Columbia recently was anxious to stock up with minnows from Sun Parker, owner of Cheverly Sport Fair, to head out for crappies at Greenbelt and Artemesia. Early this month, his daughter Tara landed a citation crappie, 1 pound, 8 ounces, at Artemesia. Thomas said he has been catching 16- to 18-inch trout in Greenbelt on Power Bait and has taken 100 trout out of the two lakes this year.
Riverfront Park, Bladensburg
(sign at 46th Street on Route 450). This well-designed park offers Anacostia River fishing for channel catfish, carp, white perch, crappie, sunfish and some bass. Striped bass have been caught down river at the New York Avenue bridge. Night crawlers, liver and dough balls are popular baits.
The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) offers a special children's activity, "Hooked on Fishing not on Drugs," on July 14, 2001. Fishing rods and a snack are provided. For more information, call 301-779-0371; TTY 301-699-2544.
Potomac River Locations
(tidal license required)
(Highway 210 to Fort Washington Road to Swan Creek Road). Anglers fish from the bridge or the bank opposite the marina for catfish, crappie, perch and croaker. Fred Tony Gray of Oxon Hill recently had a bucket of cats, crappie, and white perch for less than two hours of fishing.
"This is a good place to fish," he said. "It's nice. It's quiet. Everybody knows everybody." His secret? "You have to have patience when you fish. A lot of people don't have patience. That's why they come out empty-handed."
(Highway 210 to Fort Washington Road). This is a scenic spot with views of the fort and a lighthouse. Anglers fish the Potomac from shore for channel cats, perch, largemouth bass, striped bass, and croaker. Mike Grant of Holiday Sports in Temple Hills reports that the site produces catfish that weigh from 16 to 18 pounds. Last year's Maryland record 27-pound cat was caught here.
Patuxent River area
(tidal license required below Route 214).
Schoolhouse Pond, Mellwood Pond, Upper Patuxent River; Upper Marlboro
(Schoolhouse: one block from Main Street opposite the Courthouse. Mellwood: south of Route 4 on Route 223) Ron Mayhew of C & EJ's tackle shop in Lothian says the small ponds, which hold bass, trout, and bluegill, tend to get fished out but are good places to introduce children to the sport. Mellwood Pond enjoys a flurry of activity after the spring trout stockings.
Mayhew recommends the Patuxent River north of the Route 4 bridge for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappies, catfish, some chain pickerel, and runs of American shad and hickory shad, which are on a "catch and release" basis. During the March-April perch spawning runs, anglers bank fish the western branch of the river in Upper Marlboro near the junction of Route 202 and Route 725.
Patuxent River Park, or Jug Bay
(Croom Road south from Route 301, Croom Airport Road to sign). A $5 M-NCPPC annual vehicle permit is required. Channel catfish, carp, and white and yellow perch are abundant in this scenic stretch of the river, with a chance for a striped bass. John Smith of Upper Marlboro works nights and dock fishes Jug Bay nearly every day.
"You get big catfish in here," he said. "Night crawlers and bloodworms are the best two baits going."
Perch make a strong spawning run in the spring and then stay in the area. Early this month, Don Cosden caught a dozen 9- to 10-inch yellow perch on small grubs. He also recommends plastic worms and jigs. Anglers can launch boats or rent canoes. Fishing from boats can produce good bass.
Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary
(11704 Fenno Road; Croom Road south from 301; look for sign) The fee is $2 per vehicle. Merkle has several small ponds with bass and sunfish. Catfish Pond is reserved for anglers with disabilities.
Magruder Landing (Croom Road south to Magruder's Ferry Road). Magruder is a public landing on the Patuxent. It offers dock and shore fishing with beautiful river vistas. The $5 M-NCPPC permit fee applies.
Southern Prince George's County
Louise F. Cosca Regional Park
(west on Thrift Road from Brandywine Road). Cosca Lake offers bass, catfish, bluegills, and sunfish. It is periodically stocked with trout. William Marshall of Forestville fishes the lake regularly with his wife Lucille. "It's quiet and peaceful," he says. "It's just a beautiful spot. You couldn't find a better place to fish."
Marshall recently caught 18 bass in the 13- to14-inch range using night crawlers. "He's quite a fisherman," said Lucille. Like many anglers, the Marshalls lose little sleep over what they catch. "It's the sport of it that's the most fun," she said.
(Tucker Road Park off Tucker Road) This small pond offers pleasant fishing for bass, crappies and sunfish.
The pond is also stocked with trout. Mike Grant of Holiday Sports reports that 3-pound bass have been taken here.
Cedarville State Forest (10201 Bee Oak Road, off Cedarville Road). A fee of $2 per vehicle is required.
The forest's hatchery stocks the small lake in a secluded glade. Bank fishing produces bass, bluegills, redears, and pickerel.
Mary Ellen Dore, DNR naturalist, conducts "Get Hooked on Fishing" programs for children 8 to 14, announced in the forest's quarterly schedule. For more information, call 301-888-1410; TTY 1-410-260-8835.
"One year it was frustrating," Dore recalled. "The fish would take the bait but not the hook."
Sometimes there is drama. Once, she said, "a water snake came along and decided it wanted the fish on the hook. It was a tug-of-war between an 8-year-old boy and the snake. The snake won."
Dore remembered the children saying it was as exciting as being on the Discovery Channel.