Fletcher’s Cove, Potomac River, Washington, D.C., April 5, 2022
Out for the season.

It was cold when I arrived at Fletcher’s Cove on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. The temperature gauge in my car said it was in the low 30s but there was no rush to grab a boat or find an open rock along the shoreline to fish because with this busted left foot, I wasn't going to be doing any fishing this year for at least a couple months. I showed up—just to show up.

I saw a few people already fishing off Walker's Point and there were three rowboats heading out. Two looked like they were after Shad and the other was rigged out with some heavy hardware, probably going after Stripers or big catfish.

The busted bone of my little toe on my left foot probably occurred sometime in September or maybe October of last year (2021). It's strange to say I don't know exactly when, or how, it happened because it never really bothered me and was only discovered by accident.

During the
October steelhead trip to the Salmon River with Jin, my right foot was bothering me a lot. I had a very tiny, hard cyst under the skin—on the side of my foot about 4-5 inches below the small toe. Even though I was wearing thick wool socks, the rubbing of this tiny cyst against the side of the wading boot would be blindingly painful, which made wading across the Salmon River a bit difficult, especially when the side of the boot would come in contact with rocks.

A few days after the trip I made an appointment with a foot specialist and he said it was a benign cyst, something he sees a lot on people who wear shoes that are too narrow. He pointed out that I should get shoes that are the proper width and not buy them based on length. If you have the proper width, the extra space at the toe was not a big problem. The doc was also an avid fly fisher, so we talked wading boots for a bit before he suggested we take an x-ray of both feet to make sure there were no other underlying problems with my feet before he shaved off the cyst.

I thought something was strange when the x-ray technician asked me if I needed a wheelchair or something to sit on after he shot the pictures. I said I was fine but he insisted the nurse could get me something to sit on. I told him I was fine and walked back to the room to wait for the doctor to return from seeing another patient.

The doctor slapped the x-ray onto the viewer and began to chuckle. He looked at me and said, "X-rays sometimes show you things you don't expect."

He flipped the screen around and pointed to my left foot. There was a clean break through the bone on my little toe, about halfway down the foot. Fractured. There was no pain, but I wasn't about to try pushing on it to find out if it WOULD hurt. The doctor asked if I fell or took a tumble during the steelhead trip and I told him no. I could not think of anything that happened on that trip or any event that occurred at home that could have caused this fracture. The doctor said it was not an old break, it must have happened recently, but I couldn't think of anything.

Shaving the cyst off the right foot was not a problem. Scheduling surgery to repair the broken bone was a hassle. The plan was to open up the foot, bring the bones back together and reinforce it with metal plates. I would be forced to use a cane and be in a support boot for three months. The earliest I could schedule the operation would put my recovery time right through shad season. If I took an open slot a couple months later, it would royally screw up my Montana fishing trip. So I took the earlier slot and had the operation.

So I hobbled around Fletcher's Cove for awhile, careful to stay on level ground and away from the rocks. I sat on the bench near the concession stand and watched as folks loaded up the rowboats and lined up just outside the current line. It was turning into a beautiful day to be out on the water for shad. Just not for me.


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.
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.