Fishing Season: January 1 - December 31 (Prime: March 16 - November 5)

Tidal portion Potomac River - VA

Fishing Outlook & Conditions

Inshore Temp:


Offshore Temp:


Orvis Arlington's Tip of the Week

The water temperatures have dipped just below 40 so it's time to slow down your retrieve. Baitfish patterns such as clousers, deceivers and kreelex can produce some great fish under the right conditions. The smallie bite has also seen a bit of s spike! Fishing structure for Smallmouth and deep currents for Schoolie Stripers can produce a great bite and some quality fish!

Directions open in app

Map of Tidal portion Potomac River

Tide data

Tidal Conditions

Orvis-Endorsed guides nearby


5-Day Outlook as of 2/1/23

Winter is here and the fish have certainly slowed down with the consistently colder temps. Time to focus on largemouth, smallies and even the occasional Schoolie Striper. You will want a heavy sinking/ sink tip line, 10-16lb fluorocarbon leaders, an assortment of clouser minnows, deceivers, and any of your other favorite baitfish patterns. However water levels are up substatially from the recent rain, so you will want to give it a few days before you try to get out there. Come see us at Orvis Arlington to get dialed in and pick up some hot local flies!

Techniques & Tips as of 2/1/23

Fish moving tides with a sinking line, with high tides being your best option. Small Clousers, Half & Halfs, and Deceivers are most productive. The water is cold, so slow down your retrieves and take your time. At any point that you see fish blitzing bait do what ever you can to cast into that. Big head floating lines for remainder of summer. Fish the shade, structure, moving water. Sink tips for stripers, catfishes, and other big fish that may be deep or holding in fast water (floating lines will get swept away faster than a sink) Always fish a dropper fly behind your main fly. Double your chances of catching fish, double hook up etc. You will get more tangles and use more tippet but its worth it. You can't go wrong with a Clouser Minnow. I like them about 1" long and 4" long. Smaller hook size than you'd think. Tommy's Clousers at local stores are perfect. Everything in the Potomac system eats other fish. Thus this fly pattern is pretty much all you need.

Current Conditions as of 2/1/23

The temperature continues to drop as the true fall weather patterns are setting in! Largemouth, Smallmouth and the occasional striper can all be caught on the fly! An assortment of baitfish patterns, crayfish and woolly buggers will cover all your bases!

Local Species Available January 1 - December 31 (Prime: March 16 - November 5)

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    Striped-LM-SM Bass

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    Nile Tilapia

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    Northern Snakehead

Orvis Arlington's Recommended Fly Patterns

"Must-have" fly fishing patterns in descending order of importance:

Name: Colors: Size(s):
Clouser Minnow Chartreuse/White, Ol 6 - 2/0
Lefty's Deceiver Blue/White, Olive/Wh 2 - 2/0
Softy Minnow All Colors 2 - 3/0
Krystal Bugger All Colors 6 - 10
C.K. Baitfish White Any
Double Barrel Sliders All Colors smaller
Shaky Worm All Colors 6 - 10
Cowen's Baitfish Any Any
Shad Darts All Colors 6-10
Tommy's Clouser All Colors 6

Clouser Minnow

This fly is arguably the best all-around and most recommended saltwater fly ever tied.

Orvis Arlington's Recommended Gear

Description: About Tidal portion Potomac River

From Great Falls (The Mather Gorge) downstream to Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac supports both resident and anadromous species that are susceptible to fly rod techniques. Stripers, Shad (American & Hickory), Smallmouth, Largemouth, Carp, Catfish,Tilapia, Gar, Perch, Crappie, Snakeheads and more are all available to the fly rodder, and the fishing is year round! Every type of fly fishing gear and technique can be applied on this watershed, whether fishing for panfish with your 2-weight, largemouth with your 8-weight, or swinging for stripers with a 14' two-hander. Open your mind, broaden your horizons, and take advantage of the world class fly fishing we have right here on the Nation's River. FISH WHERE YOU ARE is our local motto.

Nearest Airport:

Ronald Reagan National Airport

Bait Recommendations:

For predatory fish such as stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass, snakeheads, etc. Your fly box should reflect what these fish feed upon. ALL targeted fish in the river feed on smaller fish thus it is necessary to imitate the wide variety of baitfish available in the Tidal Potomac. Typical baitfish are shad fry and smolts, river herring, a variety of minnow species including the kilifish, and a variety of juvenile perch and sunfishes. Baitfish flies from 1" and 4" will cover most baitfish. Mid April - mid May are our best times to fish.