Revitalizing the National Harbor habitat

Along with being sheltered from the north wind, abundant grass on a sand and gravel bottom once was what made the bay a bass factory. But coincidental with bridge construction and shoreline development, the vegetation disappeared.

“We really needed to add something to the spawning areas to provide cover for spawning fish and slow boat wakes to keep the water clearer for SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation) growth,” said Steve Chaconas, a Potomac River guide who helped with the project that involved placing concrete reef balls and then timber pyramids, also anchored with concrete.

“I fish this area of the river a lot,” he continued. “It used to be the best year-round fishing location, offering a variety of cover and depths. Having the additional cover should encourage more spawning.”

If the bay does produce more bass, and maybe even more grass, credit should go not only to MBN, MDNR, but to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and National Harbor corporation, as well as the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI), and the Fish America Foundation (FAF).

“But it was a small group of fishermen who really got this going,” said Chaconas.

Notably MBN Conservation Director Sewell, President Trageser and Berich, a second vice president and civil engineer.

“Dick was our not-so-mad scientist,” the Potomac River guide said.

“He calculated everything, exactly how much concrete to fill all of our forms, how much weight would be needed to secure the logs, and how to hold them together.”

Sewell added, “It took four or five years for everything to come together.” That’s because permits were needed to establish reefs with boundaries.

During lunch with Berich, Sewell explained, they decided that something needed to be done to put more cover in the spawning area. They presented the idea to MDNR, as well as solicited help from National Harbor, which contributed $10,000, as well as equipment and staff to operate it.

“We had to have permission from both the Corps and National Harbor,” Love said. “The owner really worked with us on this.”

In addition to its approval, support and expertise, MDNR donated $2,000. Also, MBN received a $4,500 grant from FAF, while MARI kicked in $4,000.

The actual habitat work included three stages. First, 40 concrete reef balls with holes were poured and placed on each reef, with CBF taking a leadership role.

Originally posted on Bassmaster Go to Source
Author: Robert Montgomery

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