Potomac River, Washington, D.C., April 19, 2013
A light drizzle was beginning to fall from the grey clouds as I reached for the bag containing my box filled with shad flies. I had been out on the water off Fletcher’s Cove since 5am and the fishing was slow so I decided to try a different color to see if that would entice the shad to bite. I unzipped the shoulder pack and when I reached inside I felt--nothing. A gloomy day just got a whole lot gloomier.

There is always a brief feeling of disbelief, when you can obviously see that there is NO box filled with shad flies in the pack, when you want to believe that maybe the box is somewhere on the bottom of the bag under a pile of stuff. You stare in the bag but there’s only a granola bar and water bottle in it. I slowly realizes that I left the box at home, on the coffee table downstairs, where I rigged the rod I am now using with a shad fly so I wouldn’t have to rig up in the dark and could start fishing immediately after dropping the rock off the rowboat into the Potomac River. I only have ONE fly.

I couldn’t believe it.
Last year I arrived without a rod. Now, no fly box. I checked the knot carefully before starting to fish again. I played it safe, keeping the fly off the bottom and away from any possible obstruction. I caught fish, but it was slow. I wanted to put the fly right on the bottom, get it deep, but if it snagged bottom and I lost it then that was the end of my fishing day.

The water was discolored and filled with debris from a heavy rain the previous day and it looked like more was on the way by this afternoon. I fished a few more hours, moving the boat up and down the river, but the bite remained slow and it looked like it was about to storm so I clipped off the fly, secured the rod and motored for the cove.

EQUIPMENT: I used a 6 weight rod and a fly.

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, a white stone building, on your left. The Hobbit tunnel leading to the lower parking lot is 7 feet high!

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 $22 ($23 plus change) 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 Washington 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 6am 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 then make that turn into Fletcher's. But it’s a killer turn because that ramp is the only road into and out of the Boathouse parking lot and it faces towards Key Bridge. Some will back down the ramp! Canal Road becomes one way going towards Chain Bridge from 2:30 to 7pm, so you have to hang a sharp U-turn when you leave.