Fletcher’s Cove, Washington, D.C., February 27, 2017
I really wanted to go fishing. “The Boss” did not have anything planned, so I had a whole day open.

I was anxious about the possibility of early season shad after reading the Fletcher’s report--one was hooked but not landed. The week had been ridiculously warm, but I should have paid more attention to the weather report. That sort of thing happens when you are gassed about doing something. You read an item that should set off an alarm bell in your head, but you go into denial and pretend everything will be ok because you really, truly, want to catch shad in February. Besides, the car is already packed and the rod and flies are ready to go. It really won’t be that cold or windy.

I arrived at the parking lot at Fletcher’s Cove a few minutes past 5am. I quickly grabbed my gear and headed down the trail to Walker’s Point. Piles of deadfall wood pushed up around the Point by previous high water events made the journey a bit tricky, but I eventually made it out there and began fishing.
It was really cold. The temperature was in the mid to high 30s, but the wind blowing down from Chain Bridge made it feel like the low 30s. It also made casting very tricky, but I managed to get the line out without messing things up. While retrieving the fly on the first cast, I felt a slight weight on the end and set the hook hard. I was rewarded with about five feet of yellow construction tape. I continued to fish and managed to pull up an assortment of bottom weed, a couple sticks, a plastic bag and some slimy thing I couldn’t identify and didn’t want to touch so I just flicked it off the hook. I got one strong bite but it snapped the leader. I don’t know what it was but it did not strike like a shad.
The wind chill finally got to me and I called it a day. I decided to swing by Fletcher’s Cove to see what trouble the ongoing siltation problem was causing. What I saw was not good. It looked like the cove was in worse shape that last year.

It was bad last year--you could barely make it back into the cove if the tide was low. This is a human-caused problem. In the 1960s soil excavated during a big transportation construction project was dumped upriver of Fletchers Cove, creating an artificial dam, and almost immediately siltation began to affect the cove. The problem was covered in
a 2014 report on this website.
The walkway to the dock was closed after it was deemed unsafe in October 2014. An additional website report in December 2014 documented the National Park Service’s plan to deal with this problem, featuring input from the District’s Fisheries and Wildlife department, as well as several proposals to keep Fletcher’s Cove open and operating. After much talking and planning, repairs to reopen the cove began.

In 2015 we followed the
National Park Service effort to repair the walkway which resulted in the reopening of Fletcher’s in time for the year’s shad season.

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, 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. There is a stop light and a small area where a car can wait for the light to turn without blocking incoming access. Use it! 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 in the opposite direction 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. You need a D.C. fishing license ($10 DC resident and $13 non-resident) to fish and you can get it and a boat at the Fletcher's rental kiosk which also sells 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.