Fletcher’s Cove, Washington, D.C., April 18, 2017
The weather was beautiful and PaulC, aka “Bass Master,” managed to secure a Fletcher’s rowboat and had spent most of his day fly fishing for shad on the Potomac River. He told me he had a seat waiting for me.

As I pulled into the lower parking lot I saw him relaxing under a tree sipping a chilled beverage. He showed me his fish counter and it registered over 100. I was going to try my best to add to that total.

We pulled out into the river and were soon anchored just outside a nice seam along the main current. We began to fish, but the action was really slow. The tide app showed that high tide had just crested, so I expected the fishing to pick up in about 20 to 30 minutes when the water started moving again. However another problem soon became evident.

As we fished, we began hooking a few Hickories, but not in large numbers as PaulC had in the morning. A fish here. A fish there. Then long stretches of no nibbles at all. Then the wind began and so did our problems.

It started off as a moderate gust blowing up river. A little strong at times but nothing we couldn’t handle. But soon it was blowing steadily and pushing the boat all over the river.

When you are anchored outside Fletcher’s Cove, the current always has the rowboat’s stern facing downstream and the bow pointed towards Chain Bridge. But this wind was catching the slab sides of the boat and blowing it in circles around the anchor point, making it difficult to target the shad in their holding spots.

I would hold my cast until the boat was beginning to swing toward the target area then place a cast so that the sinking line would be in position for the retrieve as we continued to drift. Most of the time it worked, but it slowed fishing down for me a lot. A couple of times I had my rod on one side of the boat and was hooking and fighting Hickories on the opposite side. And trying to haul them under the boat and not get fouled in the anchor rope as we continued to swing in circles was a pain. What we needed was a smaller anchor rock at the stern to keep the rowboat from swinging around the anchor line at the bow, but we didn’t have one so no use crying about it.

We continued to fish and the wind continued to blow. We pulled in shad, but not in any crazy numbers. However at the end of the day I did my part and added to the final total of 142 shad.

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 traffic lights and the Abner Cloud House, an old white stone building, which is next to the canal, and will appear on your left if you approach from Key Bridge, or it will be on your right approaching from Chain Bridge. The Fletcher’s boat rental office usually opens at 7am, but when the shad are biting hot and heavy they open earlier to accommodate anglers. You can get a D.C. fishing license and a boat at the rental kiosk. They also sell basic fishing equipment, bait, lures, hot dogs, candy, chips, drinks and ice cream.

WARNING: The entrance to Fletcher’s Cove is a very narrow ramp that can accommodate only ONE car at a time. There is a stop light and a small pull-off 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 will be facing away from your direction of travel. 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.

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 if you’re heading towards Chain Bridge.