Potomac River, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2019
I dropped an f-bomb at 5:30am. MY ALARM DID NOT GO OFF!

Jin and I were going to fish for shad on the Potomac River outside Fletcher’s Cove today, and if you wanted a rowboat you absolutely HAD to be there, and standing in line, no later than 5am. I usually left the house about 3:30am so I would have enough time to drive down I-66, scope out the rowboats and select one with a good rock anchor before standing in line. I made it to Fletcher’s Cove a little past 6am and after clearing the tunnel I saw that there was NO LINE at the tackle shack. Not good.

Alex saw me coming and he said there were no more boats available. Everything was gone by 5:30am. I put my name on the wait list (number 4) and got a call from Jin wanting to know where I was. Coincidentally I was sitting in by car and he was parked directly behind me. I explained to him what happened with the alarm. He took a picture of me and posted it to his Facebook account. We decided to go eat breakfast in Arlington then come back and see if we could get lucky.
It was about 8:30am when we returned to Fletcher’s Cove. I watched people in their rowboats and noticed that there was a lot of fishing going on but not a whole bunch of catching. Several of the boats were out of position and one was beached 25 yards from me and the occupants were fishing out of the boat and fishing from shore. I checked my tide app and sure enough, it was the bottom end of low tide and usually this was a very slow time for any sort of fishing. I watched as several boats gave up and headed back to the dock.

Around 9am we got a boat. Jin and I loaded up and headed out to one of our favorite spots. Fishing started off slow, but the tide was heading back up and it soon picked up. Fish were coming at us in pods and we would have multiple hookups, then it would die off for about 15-20 minutes before the action picked up again.

Jin, who loves to tweak the patience of the fishing gods, pulled out and ate a banana AND banana bread before returning to fishing. Although he said he loves bananas, I think he just does it to goad me. But instead of getting mad, I got even. I went on a 25-0 shad hookup run on him. But I was generous. After I hooked another fish, I offered him my rod so he could fight the fish but he always refused.

The bite was pretty good but we both had a dinner engagement later in the evening and we had to leave—now. It was tough to do, but we planned to be back the following day so it wasn’t that difficult to quit.

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 on your left if you approach from Key Bridge/Georgetown, or it will be on your right approaching from Chain Bridge/Virginia. 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 at the bottom of the ramp for the light to turn without blocking incoming access. 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, so you will probably have to drive backwards down the ramp. Park in the upper lot on your left or continue through the low tunnel (if you have a large SUV or van with roof racks, I suggest checking the tunnel height BEFORE entering) to the lower parking lot and dock access. Watch out for cars exiting the tunnel!

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 to get on Canal Road BEFORE 6am. 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. Canal Road goes the other way, towards Chain Bridge, from 2:45 to 7:15pm.