Charles County Launch Ramps
By Bob Denyer
As a full-time fishing guide who trailers a 20-foot bass boat in search of good fishing opportunities, I'll be the first to admit that the words, "Boat Ramp," mean different things to different people.
Charles County is blessed with 11 suitable launch sites that are available for public use. I prefer to launch as close to the fish I target, and have used all of the facilities listed and in fairness to the boating public, have included the good, the bad and the ugly.
Located at the foot of the Harry Nice Bridge on Rt. 301 is a great starting point for the striper fisherman. A short boat ride either above or below the bridge reveals some of the best rockfish hangouts the Potomac has to offer.
The ramp, ships store and gas pumps are manager by a very likable fellow named Steve. As an official checking station for the trophy striper season, Steve keeps up with the latest hotspots and baits. The ramp is accessible 24 hours with a drop box at the dock for a nominal $5.00 fee. This covers both launch and recovery. Both the ramp and dock should be approached with care, as neither are in the best of shape. Launching at low tide can cause difficulties.
Located near Cobb Island has a single ramp and little or no parking. Vehicles and trailers are restricted to the roadside. Launch fee is $5.00. For more information call (301) 259-2315.
To reach Captain Johns from Rt. 301 go east on Rt. 257 (Rock Point Road) to Rt. 254 (Cobb Island Road). Turn right and look for launch on right just before bridge.
CHAPEL POINT STATE PARK
CHAPEL POINT STATE PARK has a very scenic setting. Located on the beautiful and historic Port Tobacco River, this ramp is ideal for folks with car-toppers or canoes. The ramp is simply a low spot in the shoreline with a sand and gravel launch. For a trailered boat, a four wheel-drive would be nice and at low tide, a necessity. No launch fee is charged. For information call 1-800-784-5380.
To reach this facility, travel Rt. 301 to La Plata, West on Rt. 6, (Port Tobacco Road) to Chapel Point Road. Follow Chapel Point Road to park entrance, follow sign to ramp.
This Charles County Parks facility is a true gem. Tucked about mid-way on the Nanjemoy Creek, this ramp is ideal for power boaters seeking a sheltered brunch site with easy access to the Potomac or the great fishing in a wonderful tidal creek where bass, white perch, yellow perch and catfish abound.
For the canoeist or small boater this creek offers miles of scenic marshes which abound with wildlife. The winding creek with many high banks offer protection from strong winds and are nesting sites for the Bald Eagles who call the Nanjemoy their home.
The ramp and dock are designed as a (Free Fishing Zone), which simply means no fishing license required. What a great idea if you have out of town visitors and want to show off your county's fishing opportunities At present there is no fee for ramp or parking which can accommodate 20 or so vehicles and trailers.
To reach Friendship landing, take Rt. 301 to La Plata, west on Rt. 6, (Port Tobacco Road) to Durham Church Road on your left which ends at the ramp.
GOOSE BAY MARINA and CAMPGROUNDS
This facility is privately owned and operated by Mabel Bowie. Mabel and her staff do a superb job of keeping this facility in tip-top shape. The management here also prides itself in making even the newcomer feel like family.
With a double ramp and dock area well protected from strong winds, Goose Bay is just minutes from the Potomac and some mighty fine fishing. Parking is no problem and during the boating season access to the ramp is 24 hours a day. Mabel trusts you'll stop by the ship's store on your return for a ramp fee payment of $7.00 if you launch before 7 a.m.
There are gas docks, camp sites, clean showers and restrooms and an on-duty Mercruiser mechanic and available wet slips for visitors. All of it makes Goose Bay a winner. For additional information call Mabel at 301-934-3812. To reach Goose Bay Marina, take Rt. 301 to La Plata, west on Rt. 6 (Port Tobacco Road) six miles to Blossom Point Road on your left and follow the marina signs.
Easily reached from Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210) in Bryans Road, Maryland. Take Rt. 227 west to the dead end at the ramp. A Charles County Parks facility, this ramp is situated in the middle of a bass fishery second to none on the entire East Coast. The shoreline also offers plenty of room for shore fisherman who can latch on the catfish, bass and perch. The ramp and dock is exposed directly to the main river and during periods of strong winds or very low water, launch and recovery can be difficult. At present there is no fee and parking is available for 40 vehicles and trailers.
PORT TOBACCO MARINA
Located in the quiet backwaters of the Port Tobacco River is truly one of Charles County's best-kept secrets. Hosting a full service boatel, Mercruiser service, RV hook ups, camp sites, restaurant and three launch ramps, this marina is geared for all boaters with emphasis on the entire family. A rental service offering paddle boats and row boats is also available along with the on-premise sale of six different lines of power boats.
Ramps can be accessed between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. by all, but season pass holders, at a cost of $300.00 can enter 24 hours a day. Daily users pay $6.00 during the week and $7.00 on weekends. For more information call Scott Spalding at (301) 932-0062.
To reach the marina follow Rt. 301 to La Plata, Maryland. Proceed west on Rt. 6 (Port Tobacco Road) to Shirley Blvd. and follow the signs to the marina.
Saunders Marina, near Cobb Island, is a gem of a location owned and operated by a very nice fellow, Jim Saunders. Jim is easy going and will go that extra mile to accommodate.
There is a single ramp which has good water depth and a lock-box for your $3.00 fee. Parking is plentiful and access is 24 hours a day. For more information give Tim a call at (301) 934-9266.
To reach the marina from Rt. 301 go east on Rt. 257 (Rock Point Road) to Rt. 254 (Cobb Island Road). Turn right and look for marina sign which is one mile ahead on right.
Located near Cobb Island has a single ramp which is in protected waters and only a short run to either the Wicomico or Potomac rivers. Both the Wicomico and Potomac are home to the Maryland State fish, the striper. These waters are also great producers of croakers, spot, yellow perch and white perch.
The bait and tackle shop opens its doors at 5:30 a.m. to provide for all of your boating needs. Ramp fee is $5.00 and seasonal passes are a mere $45.00. Parking is at a premium and overflow from the marina is forced to use the roadside. For more information call (301) 259-2221.
Slavin's Ramp is a private facility open to the public with a launch fee of $5.00. Owned and operated by Dick Slavin, a no-nonsense sort who keeps a very orderly ramp area and will direct parking the way he wants it done or else! At eighty-something he is loved for the way he watches over his customers.
The single ramp is in the center of what the state biologists call, "The best bass hatchery Maryland has to offer." A wonderful winding creek with a protected no-wake area some 6 miles long. This quiet area is perfect for small boaters.
To reach Slavin's take Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210) to the end of the road, about 18 miles from the Washington Beltway. Turn left on Mattingley Avenue to the ramp.
SMALLWOOD STATE PARK
Smallwood State Park is without a doubt the crowning jewel of boating facilities in Charles County. This beautiful park is located on Mattawoman Creek and caters to the trailered boat. With 6 deep water ramps and piers, launching is a cinch. Also available are a limited number of camp sites, gas dock, ships store and picnic areas. Wet slips are also available as well as rental boats with small outboard motors. The historic home of General Smallwood is open for tours. Call 301-743-7336 for additional information.
To reach the park, travel Rt. 301 to Rt. 225 in La Plata, Maryland. Take Rt. 225 to Rt. 224 and turn left. Follow signs to the park.
Information provided by the County Commissioners of Charles County