The One That Got Away

The Potomac River, Charles County, South of Washington, DC

Green-Headed Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), also known as tall coneflower is a native, late-season perennial that can grow up to 10-feet tall.  Green-headed coneflower grows along sunny swamps and moist thickets.

We observed this plant along the river bank along with joe-pye weed.  The autumn sneezeweed is just beginning to come into flower along with wild clematis, all sure signs that summer is beginning to wane.


Jeb and Mark start back at Towson University this weekend, and Mark had off from Kendall Hardware, so today was a vacation day to go fishing.

We launched out of Smallwood (Sweden Point) on the Mattawoman and went south on the Potomac past the Chicamuxen.


Mark had the “hot rod.”  We had five fishing rods on board, one which was a light-action rod with six-pound test that Mark started with.  We were fishing quiet water between two shoreline structures, mixed with patches of Eurasian watermilfoil.

Mark’s rod went into crazy action mode, we saw a fizz of bubbles and then a boil on the water, we were all watching, and my first thought as I quickly reeled in my line was to get the camera or the net?

The fish broke water and rolled again, it was a monster-sized snakehead with a massive girth and well over two-feet long.  Mark struggled, the fish was nearly to the edge of the boat, it rolled yet again to show off its massive size, I’m leaning in for netting and . . . SNAP . . . goes the line.

All four of us were wide-eyed in disbelief as the fish swam out of view.  The proverbial “fish that got away.” 


Not more than three-minutes later with a heavy action rod and 12-pound test, Mark bags this largemouth bass from the same cove, and then another!  Mark’s friend Cody, pulls an even larger bass to the boat, loosing him right in front of us, as the fish threw the hook.

This may have been the most frustrating and exciting 10-minutes of fishing I’ve had in a long time.  We continued to fish the structure for a little longer, and then went hunting to other sites.


The hard edge of hydrilla and other submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) was a travel-way for large, predator bass and we saw several in the SAV filtered clear water.  The “ecotone” edge of an SAV shelf to open water was productive.  Cody lands his first fish of the day.


We stopped-off at Slavin’s for ice cream, as Jeb watched the boat.


While fishing a hydrilla edge, an osprey slams into the water just upstream from us.  As he flaps his wings in the water, I grab my camera and as he just gets up and out of the water, we can see that he bagged a catfish.


He turns back upstream to find a perch (not the fish, but a tree branch) to land on and enjoy his meal.  Osprey begin to leave the Potomac and Chesapeake in early September, on their relaxed migration south to overwinter in Venezuela.


This blue heron looks for trapped fish in the compressed SAV of low tide . . .


. . . but this great white egret actually bags a bluegill.

Great day on the water.  I know Mark is reliving the loss of the monster snakehead in his mind.  We all agreed, the best we could have done was to lay back on the reel tension and try to work and tire the fish.  He was so big and powerful that one head-yank, and 6-pound test breaks like thread.

Thank you Cody for joining in with the Burchick Boys.