Fletcher’s Cove, Potomac River, Washington, D.C., April 3, 2021
It was brutal.

I arrived at Fletcher’s Cove on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. and waited for the tackle shack to open at 6am so I could claim my reserved boat. The temperature gauge in my car read 30 degrees.

After Jin arrived we finished setting up the boat and were soon anchored off a seam just outside the cove with three or four other boats. However, despite the three layers of thermal clothing, I was still freezing. We began to fly fish for shad and as the sun began to rise I watched the red and grey painted rowboat begin to turn white in places as the dew froze in the chilly conditions.

We fished hard. We fished deep. We fished mid-water. We fished shallow. The shad just weren’t interested. After knocking some ice out of the guides I swapped flies and managed to draw a several bites and got a few Hickory shad but for most of the time it was just casting practice with sinking lines.

Shad fishing remained tough for the rest of the time we were on the water. Just before 2pm we decided to call it a day and go get a hot cup of coffee to pour down our pants.

EQUIPMENT: We used 8 weight rods, density-compensated full sink line, and flies in size 2 to 8 in various colors.

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 a traffic signal and the Abner Cloud House, a white stone building, which is next to the canal and will appear on your left if you approach the area from Key Bridge/Georgetown, or on your right from Chain Bridge.

WARNING: The entrance to Fletcher’s Cove is a very narrow entry/exit ramp that can accommodate only ONE car at a time so be very careful. It is VERY difficult to negotiate this ramp if you approach Fletcher’s Cove via Chain Bridge because it faces Key Bridge so you have to negotiate a difficult U-turn to enter. Park in the upper lot on your left or go through the tiny tunnel (clearance is 7 feet) to the lower parking lot and dock access.
During shad season the tackle shack opens at 6am. Rowboat rental is by reservation only via the
Boating In DC website, however there might be a few available for walkup rental. Rental fees are $28 for ONE HOUR, $56 for TWO HOURS, and $112 for FOUR HOURS. A late return fee is $25 and you might be placed on a “do not rent” list. Prices are subject to change.
You also need a D.C. fishing license which is $10 for D.C. residents and $13 for non-residents.

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. Canal Road becomes one way going towards Chain Bridge from 2:30 to 7pm.