Potomac River float trip advice- Dam #4 down to Snyders Landing or Shepherdstown, WV
I'm trying to work in a kayak float/fishing trip this holiday weekend and would like to explore the part of the Potomac around Dam #4 down to Shepherdstown, WV or vicinity. Does anyone have experience floating this segment of the river and could recommend a nice day trip or an overnight? Looking for advice on put-ins, take-outs etc. Also any recent fishing reports from this stretch of river or recent river conditions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
You should be able to cover this distance in about 1 full day, figuring 1 mile per hour drift.
As I recall it's about 10-12 miles of twisty river. Dam 4 is about 4 miles above Taylor's Landing for reference. Check out goggle earth for a good comparison.
There is no white water, but several cross river ledges and pools. One island-Shepherd's Island- about a mile below Dam 4. Stay on the Maryland side. On the Maryland side you will pass Taylor's Landing (double ramps split by a cross river ledge) and Snyder's Landing. Take out for Shepherdstown is under the Route 34 bridge on the W. Va side. (all distances are approximate).
The target species are Smallmouth bass, catfish, sunnies, and walleyes, with a very occasional tiger muskie.
pop-r, rapalas, curly tail jigs on a 1/8 oz head, and small crank baits that will dive 4-5 feet deep, like a bomber fat A or a shad rap.
The pool and ledges about 1/4 mile below Shepeherds Island-look for the cliff on the W.Va. side and the rocks in the river that look like crumpled newspaper is my favorite area. Fish above and below the cross river ledge, passage down favors the Maryland side.
Lots of micro ledges and pools until you get below Taylor's.
Then the current picks up a bit, all the way to Shepherdstown. About 1.5 miles below Taylor's, as the river begins a swing to the left, you'll encounter the "Horseback riffles" where the small ledges run parallel to the current. Some where around here on the Maryland side is a Park Service Campsite. You'll also see a semi permanent semi legal campsite on the lower tip of Shepherds Island.
The nearest gauge is the USGS gauge at Point of Rocks, which is way down river below Harpers Ferry. Anything much above 2-2.5 feet is a tad high, 4 feet (I think) is in the "Danger" zone. I prefer 1.75 feet or lower.
I fish this area from an electric powered canoe. I put in at the upper Taylor's landing ramp, motor upstream to Shepherd's island and drift back down following several paths. Pretty area. Saves setting up a shuttle.
Last edited by bignose; 05-22-2012 at 06:13 PM.
Reason: new info
For free camp sites look into the C&O canal trail. They have relatively primitive camp sites every 5 miles or so that have water, a porta-potty, picnic tables and a fire circle. There are some more improved campsites at a few locations.
A map showing the camp grounds can be found at:
Thanks for the good info bignose and Tom, very helpful. Now my dilema seems to be the river stage, looks way too high now fo ra leisurely float. May switch gears and hit the dam controlled part of the Susquehanna instead.