Fly-Fishing DC

Hey -

I am considering a few places to attend law school and was wondering the fly-fishing prospects around DC? Any good threads/advice you all know about it? Any help is appreciated.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Sean, you are really asking for it man...DC, Law School. I went to school, not law school, but a military school, in the DC area a long time ago. I did some small creek and stream fishing within an hour of the city in a few different locations. Where they were and how to get there are well beyond my memory's capabilities, sorry.

On the lighter side, I've heard that President Obmama will be having the refelecting pool stocked. Species of choice not yet determined to be trout, steelhead or koi. I'm betting an aspiring law student could have a blast casting in that crowded urban environment. If the line goes tight on the backcast, set that hook and hold on!

I'll look into some of my old journals, I may find some names of places that I was not fishing by fly though, I was a young guy not assimilated into the fly fishing world.

Once you get there, you'll be able to find yourself around. However, you may want to change your mindset from trout to smallmouth fly fishing. The D.C. area is a haven for outstanding smallmouth fishing---upper Potomac, Shenandoah watershed, Rappahannock, Rapidan and, if you're willing to drive a couple of hours, the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. There are fly fishing opportunities for trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but be prepared for some tough fishing. You'll enjoy it the D.C. area, Sean.


Active Member
I lived in DC for 3 years and did a bunch of fishing. Check out the Gunpowder River about an hour and 20 min north of DC. It's an awesome tailwater and was by far my favorite place to fish. You can also try Big Hunting Creek which is about an hour north of DC up by Camp David. Here's a link to the fly shop up near the Gunpowder.
I have to agree with Philip. The smallmouth bass fishing in Virginia and Pennsylvania is outstanding. In addition to the rivers Philip mentioned, also consider the James River in Virginia (Above Richmond) and the New River out near Blacksburg Va. The Upper Potomac is a great place to fish for trout. Its a tailwater. Its about a 3 hour drive from DC. Also don't forget your not that far from some of the famous trout streams in South Central PA.

Also, your right on the Chesapeake Bay. Fly fishing for Stripers is supposed to be a blast. I have never tried it.

I dont know about the quality of their Law School, but Penn State is within walking distance of several blue ribbon trout streams. Fly fishing is so big at that school that Sports Illustrated gave it an award.

Sean, I lived in DC for 25 years. Great FF for smallies and LM in the Potomac most of the year, and American shad, hickory shad and striped bass in the spring. I can hook you up with some folks who would be happy to show you the ropes and have lots of info I can b-mail. I may even tell you about the urban smallie stream I found by reading a crime report that began with "A fisherman discovered a body yesterday ..."

And I guess I shouldn't tell Mumbles about the amazing fishing opportunities on the National Mall. Pretty awesome to have a 5# LM smack your popper at dawn between all the monuments and memorials ... Ducklings are good bait, too ...

If it's trout you're looking for, there are some places very close by in the Catoctin Mountains near Camp David, and lots of places in Virginia and PA within a 90-minute drive. You can find native brookies in many areas.

I also had a house on the Chesapeake and so did lots of fishing for stripers and bluefish. You pretty much need a boat, though (kayak would be OK in places), as there are very, very few places you can catch fish from shore.

Having said all that, don't pick a law school based on nearby fishing opportunities. Trust me, if you're doing it right you won't have much time.

I was the hiring partner for my firm in DC for a while, so if you're looking for specific info about law schools and practice in DC, let me know.

Good luck.
I second the Big Gunpowder Falls river. I spent 6 months in DC a few years back and decided that I didn't want to drive all the way to PA and I wanted to focus on one stream and learn it. So, after doing a little homework I decided on the Gunpowder. There are only a few trout streams in the VA/MD area within a reasonable distance of DC that have natural trout populations (browns and some bows) and C&R fishing. I lived in Alexandria, on the S side of DC and found that if I left home by 5:30 am, I could be parked on the river in 1 hour 15 minutes. Start a little later and forget it!

Oh, I forgot to mention the carp fishing in the C&O Canal. Great fun to tie on a mulberry fly and catch 20# carp while the tourists are enjoying dinner on the terrace in Georgetown ...


has never caught a steelhead... (its sad, I know)
Having said all that, don't pick a law school based on nearby fishing opportunities. Trust me, if you're doing it right you won't have much time.
I must respectfully disagree with Walt. I had far more time to fish when I was in law school than I do now as an attorney, or than I had before as a military officer. Even with 3-4 hours of class and 3-4 hours of studying a day, you come out way ahead in law school...

As for the real subject of this thread, I haven't fished DC, but I imagine it would be a good place to do some "brownlining"...

I am fishing the Chessapeke later this spring with my brother though. Supposed to be killer...
Agree, law school is the time to get that fishing in. I live in Alexandria Gunpowder (wild browns) very regularly, as well as the Cacotins in MD and SNP in VA (brookies). All are approx 1.5 hrs from house - to - stream. Chesapeake Beach (stripers/blues) is about 40 mins...Potomac (bass) is right there, and if you're willing to drive a couple hours and like fishing spring creeks, Letort and Falling Springs in PA.
Gunpowder is a really nice river, hook up with "the backwater angler" in monkton MD, they have a blog all about that area. I checked out Morgan Run last weekend in Md, and caught 5 nice trout in about 2 hours, there was nobody else there. good luck in DC, my hometown is Falls Church in Northern Va.
A fifth for the Gunpowder. It's where my fly fishing journey began (in grad school no less) and I still miss it dearly. I'd love to explore the Small mouth and shad (seasonal) fishing closer to the DC area too.

The problem won't be finding fishing opportunities in the DC area, but finding time for all of them ... Shad, SMB and Stripers on multiple rivers, Stripers on the C-Bay, Trout in the Gunpowder, Big Hunting Creek, Little Hunting Creek, Beaver Creek, Morgan Run (all in Maryland), the famed Letort, Yellow Breeches and numerous other PA limestones are all within a couple of hours of DC proper. The Casselman, Savage, Yoch, N. Branch are within 3 hours. In about 7 hours you can be on a Salmon River (NY), Catt, and numerous Erie, PA tribs for lake-run Steelhead. About 7 hours south into S. Carolina and you can be fishing for Reds. Carp and Muskie are local too.

There is a great variety of fishing in the DC area.

Best regards,

Dave Fulton

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