Fletcher’s Cove, Potomac River, Washington, DC, April 15, 2023
Jin was able to break away for another weekend of shad fishing but wouldn't be at Fletcher's Cove on the Potomac River in Washington, DC, from Philadelphia until mid-afternoon. Since I had the boat for the whole day and wanted to do some scouting before Jin arrived I invited Bass Master to join me.

We decided to fish a spot that was often very productive for Bass Master, who earlier in the week landed over 100 fish there.

The morning began well, with several strikes in a row. We landed fish, but it was at a so-so pace. Bass Master hooked and landed a large catfish, however when the sun came out and the tied turned to slack the shad bite just died. We motored to several different locations, but only picked up a couple more Hickories at each location. We fished hard, but the bite was slow. The shad had lock-jaw. Another problem was with the trolling motor battery. We had motoredup and down the Potomac several times, looking for fish, and the charge was approaching the red zone. Since the bite was super slow, we headed back to the dock so I could recharge the battery at my car using jumper cables. There was an hour left before Jin arrived so hopefully I could get enough of a charge into the battery to get Jin to a good spot.

Bass Master and I had hooked and landed about 70 fish in the morning. It wasn't a bad number, but not that great either. I told Jin that although the battery wasn't at full charge, I wanted to take a gamble and head back upriver to a spot Bass Master and I fished in the morning. I was confident that when the tide changed, fishing would really improve.

We dropped the rock and nearly all the anchor line went out before it hit bottom. But we were in a good spot. We picked up a few fish right away, doubling up here and there, but the bite was still slow. However as the tide began to rise, the fishing changed.
My arm was getting a bit stiff so I decided to sit for a while and let Jin fish. I recommended he change from casting straight downriver to fishing to the left of the boat. That was the key.

Jin immediately hooked up a shad and landed it. He cast back to the same spot and got another, but this time I grabbed it and unhooked the fish so he could get off another quick cast. He hooked another Hickory and I unhooked it. We kept that rhythm up through 12 straight hookups. He finally missed one, but after that he went back and hooked more, which I unhooked and released while he continued to cast and fish. We noticed that the pace of fishing was unusually quick if you had someone unhook the fish for you rather than doing it yourself.

I kept encouraging him to get as many shad as he could—when the fishing is hot, take full advantage of it. But Jin finally called it a day when his arm couldn't take it any more so we pulled the rock and headed for the dock.

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 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 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. 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 DC fishing license which is $10 for DC 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. During the evening rush Canal Road becomes one way outbound towards Chain Bridge from 2:30 to 7pm.