Adam Aghion, Recreational Angler
- Baltimore County
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Posted on January 9, 2013 | Permalink
Catching Bait For Blue Cats
Location: Between Fort Washington and Mattawoman Creek
I am interested in helping to reduce the number of invasive blue catfish in the tidal Potomac between Fort Washington and Mattawoman Creek. I've done some research and concluded that the best places to fish are deep channels near steep drop offs and the best bait is fresh gizzard shad. I have a castnet. Where is the best place to throw the castnet from shore for big, fresh gizzard shad? Where's the best place to throw from a boat? I used old fish steaks from the supermarket to catch the few in these pictures but I need fresher bigger pieces to catch the much bigger cats that frequent that area.
DNR Response: At this time of year, they may be hanging out near stream mouths, in turbid or dark water, and over muddy bottoms. They’re called “mud shad” by some folks; that’s because they tend to be prolific in turbid, muddy areas. Generally, though, gizzard shad are pretty common and abundant in every tidal freshwater stream that I’ve been in the Potomac. Casting near docks or at stream mouths might be good choices now that the water is a *little* colder.
Gizzard shad can be a little difficult to catch this time of year with a cast net. If you can find a school of them, you should be alright. The best places I can think of are in Swan Creek and Mattawoman Creek. The area around Swan Creek Marina is usually the spot we have found some. The marina owner might allow you to cast from their bulkhead or pier. You might want to give them a call. It is best to use a boat with a fish finder on it so you can locate the schools. The area around were a flat meets a drop off in Mattawoman Creek is also a good place to look. Cast netting is like looking for a needle in a hay stack, but it can be done. Several of the catfish fishermen that I know purchase a Virginia recreational gillnet permit which allows them to use a gillnet in the Virginia tributaries only. You could also contact Tim Hagan at the Catfish Nation, he tries to keep a supply of fresh gizzard shad in stock.