Washington, DC, April 4, 2014
The shad were beginning to appear and I had the morning free but with the Potomac River running high, Fletcher’s Boathouse was not renting rowboats. But why waste a perfectly good overcast, cold, gloomy, rainy day by staying indoors when I could grab a rod and head out to try fishing for shad at Walker’s Point.

I had never fished at Walker’s Point before, which is downstream from Fletcher’s Cove, but I’m always up for a little adventure. I followed the footpaths through the forest, past someone’s pup tent, and found a nice rock to fish from.

Although I have never fished at Walker’s Point, I have cruised past several times while fishing from a Fletcher’s boat so I knew there would be no backcast room for a fly rod. And I did not want to use a spey rod and mess up my lines with all that debris and general crap (literally) floating downstream in the runoff from the previous storm. So I broke out my Shimano 11-foot six inch collapsable sectional, a light action spinning reel loaded with 4 pound test and a box of shad flies. The collapsable Shimano is not available in the USA and is not anything like the cheap collapsable rods you see in the magazines or fishing stores. “No market,” said the Shimano rep when SteveL asked why the rods were not exported. It’s just for the Asian market, where homes are tiny and storing a non-collapsable long rod is a problem. Steve bought the rod for me at a small fishing supply dealership in Macao and it costs about as much as a good fly rod. With the proper weight and technique you could blast a cast with this stick halfway across the Potomac.

I caught some shad and after a few hours I headed for Catfish Beach. A couple of other people were spin fishing there and I hooked into something pretty big that was not a shad but it broke off as I was bringing it in. I think it was a catfish. Soon it began to drizzle and I decided to call it a day before the heavy rain arrived.

EQUIPMENT: I usually use a 6 or 7 weight rod and a Type VII density-compensated full sink line. Shad flies in size 2 to 8 in various colors.

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, and will appear on your left if you approach the area from Key Bridge or on your right from Chain Bridge.

WARNING: The entrance to Fletcher’s Cove is a very narrow ramp that can accommodate only ONE car at a time so be very careful. It is also very easy to drive past the Abner Cloud House, so be alert. And it is REALLY difficult to negotiate this ramp if you approach Fletcher’s Cove via Chain Bridge because the entry ramp faces Key Bridge. There is NO RAMP facing Chain Bridge. Park in the upper lot on your left or go through the tiny tunnel (if you have anything on roof racks, I suggest checking the tunnel height BEFORE entering) to the lower parking lot and dock access. During shad season the boat rental office opens at 7am, but when the season is hot and heavy they do open earlier. Boat rental fee, plus tax, is $26 for the day. You need a D.C. fishing license ($10 DC resident and $13 non-resident) to fish and you can get them at the Fletcher's rental kiosk along with fishing equipment, bait, hot dogs, drinks and ice cream.

WARNING ON WEEKDAYS: Both lanes of Canal Road become ONE WAY into and out of the District 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 this window you must wait until 10:20am because all traffic on Canal Road is one way into the city. You must use Canal Road via Chain Bridge in the morning and trying to make the u-turn into Fletcher's during rush hour traffic can really get the blood pounding! Canal Road becomes one way going towards Chain Bridge from 2:30 to 7pm, so you have to hang a sharp U-turn, in rush hour traffic, when you leave.