Report from Fletcher’s Cove, April

Spring is a fickle and tortuous season for anglers in Washington. One day it’s busting out all over, the next there’s frost on the redbud. One week, the Potomac is as clear as a mountain trout stream, a few days later it’s a muddy torrent. Unpredictability is really the only predictable thing about the sport of angling. And so it is. Without patience and an acceptance of this reality, well…go bowling?

However, the rewards of fishing in spite of the unpredictability, of giving it a shot when the odds are against you, can be great. Let’s look at Fletcher’s regular Michael Grant, who is the happy holder of a season pass for rentals. Mike fished the first day of boat rentals, March 24. There was not too much excitement that day, a few hickory shad and a calm, relaxing time on the water. Ever the optimist and with free time to fish, Mike was back out on the water the next week. On the 28th, with few other boats out, Mike’s perseverance was rewarded with an American shad of a size most anglers never see on their line. I’m estimating the fish, fat with roe, weighed about five pounds. Released to do its thing, let’s hope to see its offspring a few years down the road!

The blush of spring finally does grace our workaholic city. It is reminding us that there is a time clock punched not by our hands but by the elements themselves. An angler can watch the natural world around us and reliably know what kind of fish are swimming in local waters. Bright yellow daffodils say white perch. Glorious redbud means the biggest stripers of the year are chasing herring in competition with those winged swimmers, the cormorants. The emerging bloom of the dogwood tree shouts, shad! shad! As we humans plod through our daily lives, these things remain constant. However, weather and water conditions can throw that old “monkey wrench” into the best laid plans of a fisherman.

The river has been high and muddy for a few days as I write this. But within a day or two the conditions will improve and a sea change of angling opportunity will present itself. Always consider calling Fletcher’s tackle shack for daily reports on fishing info and boat availability. For reports on the shad angling, check the report of the Bethesda chapter of Trout Unlimited. (You must sign up for these e-mail notices).

Even when the river is high and muddy, the big blue catfish can be sought out with success. These often monster-sized fish have been getting to the scary-big size in recent years. Soon, one hitting the century mark will be caught. A good bet to catch that fish would be a fellow I call “Catfish Cliff.” On Friday, April 7, Cliff was the only angler giving things a shot. By mid-morning he had caught so many big cats as to break his metal rolling cart under their weight. Cliff is giving renowned female angler and Fletcher legend “Catfish Mona” a run for her money. Cliff is now a “fellow-traveler” in the hunt for the big whisker. Let’s hope Mona’s companion, “minnow-master,” doesn’t get jealous. To understand this reference, and properly date it, please refer to archived fishing reports. The first person to correctly explain this to me at the tackle shack will win the coveted “golden-sinker” award.

Bait and tackle, as well as the D.C. fishing permit and the biggest selection of shad lures in the mid-Atlantic, are available at the tackle shack. When the water by our cove calms down and warms up just a bit, we will begin our rental season for canoes and kayaks. You must call for daily availability. Always remember the weather and river conditions dictate what we can and can’t offer. Fletcher’s is the stage and we are merely players.

Thanks for reading. See you by the riverside.

Dan

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