Every year I try to add one or two new paddling locations to my experience. This year, I wanted to spend time on one of the tributaries to the southern Potomac River. In the river’s lower reaches, the tributaries tend to flow a little slower and wind back on themselves. That makes for easy paddling and the potential to spot some incredible bird life around every river turn. Nanjemoy Creek matches that description perfectly.
Nanjemoy Creek is a tidal tributary to the Potomac River and is located in Charles County, Maryland, south of the Washington D.C. beltway. Much of the shoreline is protected land, and the tidal marsh areas make it a perfect place for viewing migratory waterfowl….from a kayak that is. Although there are plans to build a network of trails around the creek, if you really want to see the birds, it is best to paddle via kayak from the boat ramp at Friendship Landing.
Most of the kayakers I know can paddle for hours without a break. I am not exactly a marathon paddler. I only need to paddle as far as it takes to see something interesting. At Nanjemoy, It took me two hours just to paddle around three or four river bends because I often stopped for the scenery.
Eventually, I parked my kayak next to a log to watch a pair of juvenile bald eagles fish in the middle of the river. Call me lazy. Call me slow. I enjoyed the scenery and had the entire river to myself.
With the morning sun rising and the bald eagle rivalry slowing down, I launched my drone to view the horizon. My favorite drone photograph is still the middle portion of the Potomac River north of Pennyfiled (Lock 22). The rocks in river show the river’s ruggedness. Here at Najemoy, though, it is the slow curves of the river bends and the glassy surface of the water that define the creek. Early morning light on the bends makes for a great image.
I have been lucky to meet some interesting people on my kayaking ventures. At Nanjemoy, I met Kenny and Judy on the fishing pier. At first, it was just a light-hearted conversation. Then I noticed that their cooler was full of blue catfish. It wasn’t just the size of the fish that caught my eye, but they had already caught three, and it was just 8 AM. Blue catfish are an invasive species in the Potomac River watershed. Kenny and Judy fish for them. I wish I had a little conservation merit badge that I could give them for removing their share of an unwelcome apex predator from the river.
These blue catfish can get up to 100 lbs. There is information saying they taste good, but I’ll reserve judgment. Kenny and Judy fish together throughout the summer and winter months. With the number of fish they catch, they must eat catfish every day of the week. If that keeps the catfish population down and returns balance to the river, that is fine with me.
Oh Nanjemoy, what a pleasant surprise for my first trip.