Potomac River, Washington, DC, April 9, 2011
With a partial government shutdown possible the following day it looked like Jin and I weren't going fly fishing for shad at Fletcher's Cove. We traded calls and emails for a few hours, working out possible fishing alternatives until around 11:30pm, when it was announced a budget deal was reached. Fletcher's would be open for business Saturday morning.

I arrived around 5:30am and there was only one other car in the parking lot. However within a few minutes vehicles began to pour in. I quickly secured a boat from Paula Smith and settled in to wait for Jin to arrive from Philadelphia. I watched as anglers arrived, loaded up and either rowed or motored out of the cove into the early morning gloom.
After Jin loaded his stuff into the boat we headed out of Fletcher's Cove and anchored near our preferred spot on the river. Most of the boats that left before us were downriver fishing at the point and only a few were outside the cove.

The sky was overcast and the water was flowing dirty, filled with debris from the recent heavy rain. The tide was running out and was almost at slack. I offered Jin the prime stern location but since he was lining his rod he told me to stay there and fish. I had already rigged my rod while I was waiting for him so I tossed some line out and tried to catch some shad. I was using the same fly that was successful on the previous day and on my second cast I had a fish. By the time Jin was rigged and fishing I was into double-digits. I kept asking him if he wanted to switch positions with me and he kept declining the invitation until I hooked a few more Hickories, then I moved to the second seat and Jin took the stern. I kept catching fish. Other boats began to edge closer.

I set Jin up with the same fly and leader setup I was using. When I told him to speed up his retrieve a bit he began to get some and we both began to seriously pound shad until the bite began to slowly wind down. We took a hot dog and potty break around 12:30pm then went back out for more shad. I figured someone would have taken our spot after we left but it was still open so we anchored and began to fish. It was slow. We'd catch a few fish then it would die down for awhile. The action was nothing like what it was in the morning. We tried various flies and colors--chartreuse worked and so did orange but the bite remained sporadic. We figured it might be the heavy flow of rainwater from a storm a few days ago making its way downstream.

But it was time for us to call it a day anyway, so after I landed two more fish we pulled anchor and returned to the dock.
DIRECTIONS: Fletcher's Boat House is located on the Potomac River in Washington, DC, two miles north of Key Bridge and one mile south of Chain Bridge, at the intersection of Reservoir Road and Canal Road. You will know you have reached the entrance to Fletcher's when you see the Abner Cloud House, an old white stone building, which is next to the canal on your left.

From 66 East, take the Rosslyn exit to Key Bridge. Stay in the left lane. Take a left onto Canal Road after crossing over Key Bridge. Stay in the left lane and turn left on Canal Road, and continue until you see the Abner Cloud House on your left. That narrow ramp is the entrance to Fletcher's. Go down the ramp and either park in the upper lot or go through the tunnel to the lower parking lot and dock access. During shad season the boat rental office opens at 6:30am. Boat rental fee is $20 for the day. You need a DC fishing license ($10 DC residents. $13 non-resident) to fish and Fletcher's sells this at the rental kiosk along with fishing equipment, bait, hot dogs, drinks and ice cream.

WARNING: Both lanes of Canal Road become ONE WAY into and out of DC during morning and evening rush hour during the weekdays. If you're hitting Fletcher's in the morning and following the route above you have until 5:30am to get there. If you miss it you must wait until 10:20am. Once it's one way you must come down Canal Road via Chain Bridge way and trying to make that turn into Fletcher's from that direction is a killer because that ramp is the only road into and out of the Boathouse parking lot and it faces towards Key Bridge. Canal Road becomes one way going towards Chain Bridge from 2:30 to 7pm, so you must hang a sharp U-turn when you leave.