There are several public fishing sites within National Mall and Memorial Parks. Constitution Gardens Lake is located in downtown Washington, D.C. and has been designated for catch and release fishing only. Within the 6.75 acre lake, there are populations of large mouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie.

Fishing is also allowed along the banks of the Tidal Basin, the Potomac River in West Potomac Park, and the Potomac River and Washington Channel in East Potomac Park.

A District of Columbia fishing license is required for residents and visitors alike to fish in all of these areas. Once licensed, anglers must maintain possession of the license while angling and shall display the license at all times. For information on obtainining a D.C. fishing license, visit the D.C. Department of Energy and Enivronment website.

The Northern Snakehead (channa argus) is a non-native predatory fish that is found in the Potomac River and tributaries. If you are not going to consume snakehead when you catch it, DO NOT RETURN IT TO THE WATER. Snakeheads should be immediately killed by removing the head, removing all vital organs, or removing both gill arches, bagged and disposed of in a trash can.


Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

National Mall and Memorial Parks follows the District of Columbia guidance on fish consumption. Although contaminant levels in fish in the District of Columbia have improved, DC has issued a fish consumption advisory. The advisory provides recommendations on how much of a fish species you should consume each month. There are also additional guidelines on the best way to prepare fish to avoid contaminants.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

Monofilament Recycling Container

Fishing Line Recycling Containers

National Mall and Memorial Parks has installed 6 monofilament (fishing line) recycling containers in East Potomac Park, just in time for Earth Day. The containers are found along the Ohio Drive/Hains Point loop where many anglers enjoy fishing. The containers are designed to keep monofilament out of the environment where it can entangle fish and wildlife. The line is then sent off to to be recycled. Thank you for helping keep our parks and waterways clean.
Monofilament Recycling Map 2022
Map of Monofilament Recycling Stations

Last updated: January 23, 2023

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