Carp Fishing in the Anacostia River

Contrary to common belief, there are a lot of fish in the Anacostia River! In the whole watershed there are about 61 species of fish, 11 of which are nonnative species. The main stem of the River seems to have healthy populations of many common fish species including the recent Asian invader the Northern snakehead, also known as "Frankenfish." Now, these are not fish you would like to be frying for your family dinner, particularly the bottom feeders. Unfortunately eating these fish is a rather common practice for many angler's that fish in the Anacostia River according to a recent study we have commissioned with other partners, available here

On the other hand, there is a significant potential for catch and release fishing in this river. Take the Common carp (Cyprinus carpio carpio), the largest member of the minnow family and an exotic species introduced to the United States from Europe somewhere in the XIX century. Historically, carp have never been that popular among American anglers either because it is just not tasty (to the American palate) or because it is a reputedly annoying invader that negatively impacts the habitat for waterfowl and native fish by destroying vegetation and by disturbing the bottom of rivers and streams with its snout as it forages for food. That said, carp fishing is extremely popular in Europe. There carp is not only a popular sport fish but also a cherished food. Carp is an important part of the Christmas Eve dinner in several European countries.       

Notwithstanding, carp fishing is gaining popularity here in North America, from simple bottom fishing to the fancier fly fishing. Carp are known for their tenacious fights when hooked at the end of the fishing line and they are big fish! State record carp caught in Maryland waters weighed more than 40 lbs! European anglers have caught real bruisers of more than 90 pounds. Given the historical apathy of North American anglers, carp are rather abundant; the Anacostia River is no exception. A stroll through any of the river's waterfront parks or a paddling outing in the summer will reveal the amount of carp living in the Anacostia River. Often times you can see them leaping over the water surface with their nice olive-golden-dark-brown colors. There is even an organized Carp Angler's Group which promotes the sport of catch and release carp fishing in North America. In other parts of the country people are also bowfishing for carp; it's a cool method of fishing, but only recommended if you are actually eating or somehow using your quarry. Because carp are bottom feeders, and thus exposed to toxic chemicals residing in the sediment, we don't recommend that technique on the Anacostia River!

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