Water Stargrass

The Fresh Tidal Potomac River


I took off today to go fishing with my son Jeb.  We called my brother Duane and he joined us.  Launching out of Smallwood State Park, we left the Mattawoman and fished along the Potomac River shoreline on the Maryland side.  We noticed a goodly number of crab traps, all usually between the eight and ten-foot contours.

I caught a nice fighting three-pound bass off of the remains of an old sunken ship hull.  Thank you Jeb for being the net-man.


Duane applies precision casting, softly dropping a Senko plastic lure right along the side of the structure.


Working down the bank, we maneuvered through a section of rip-rap sill.  Jeb hooked into a fish that gave him a good tussle.  I quickly reeled-in my line to try and get some action shots.  As he worked the fish to the boat, we realized he bagged a catfish.


Time for a photo.  After releasing the fish back into the water, we then motored up into the Chicamuxen.


The Chicamuxen is loaded with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), with discrete beds of hydrilla, Eurasian water milfoil, wild celery, southern naiad and water stargrass.  Duane collected both hydrilla and water stargrass for his large freshwater aquarium at home.


Water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia) has a wonderfully attractive yellow flower with six narrow petals.  I’d bet that very few people get to see the beauty of a fresh tidal marsh, with crystal clear water, numerous species in flower and bald eagle and osprey flying overhead.


A Golden Winged Skimmer lands on my fishing line to take a quick respite.  This skimmer is actually called the Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami), a native dragonfly of the southeast.  They live in grassy, brackish, marshy habitat (check), and are highly territorial and very aggressive toward competing males.

As I read about this species, it specifically mentioned the wings on the skimmer can get a bit tattered (check), as it is hard-wired to perform outrageous flight maneuvers in support of territory defense.


My brother Duane has had a few really nice boats and often launched out of Fort Washington, and knows the Potomac well.  He’s not had a boat for several years now, and I know he enjoyed being out on the water for the day.

Thank you Jeb and Uncle Duane for a great day on the water.


When Jeb and I got home, Mark was putting together my birthday gift, a new propane Weber Grill.  Thank you to my four boys, Meg and Michelle for the gift.  It’s marinated chicken breasts and roasted corn for dinner.

Packing away our fishing supplies and tending to the boat, a Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) passed through the lawn without the dogs taking notice.  Tree frogs are nocturnal and feed on insects from trees and shrubs, jumping from branch to branch in search of food.

They can change colors within seconds, to better blend with whatever they are surrounded by.  The Cope’s Tree Frog is apparently nearly identical, and you must listen to the call between the Gray and Cope’s to make sure what species you have.

This tree frog species will frequent our kitchen window at night and opportunistically feed on insects attracted to the lights from the house.  When this occurs, we can clearly see the sticky foot pads, as the frog adheres to the glass.

With the weather being so nice these last few days, 70’s and low humidity, we have turned-off the AC and opened the windows.  The night-time sounds include the constant trill of katydids, tree frogs and an occasional barred owl and mockingbird.