Report from Fletcher’s Cove

If you are a native Washingtonian, or even if you just lived here a few years, you had to know down deep inside that it was gonna happen. When things seem to be too good to be true, they usually are. February… What a glorious month! Can’t take that away from us. But here’s the rub. February was like buying a luxury car on credit; like playing all your poker chips on one hand, against a card shark; like putting the cart before the horse; like buying an engagement ring after one date. Ahhh… Spring in Washington… as unpredictable as health care reform.

Spring will come. And it will be glorious. The memory of this week’s frozen daffodils and cherry blossoms, of slippery sidewalks and salt covered cars will fade into fuzzy memories. All will be right with the world on a sunny warm day in April. Fletcher’s Cove has always been the kind of place to help you live in the moment. To surround yourself with natural beauty no matter the season or the foibles of Washington’s cognoscenti.

Because of the mild weather, some crazy angling feats were witnessed this late winter. Herring, stripers and shad arrived in the waters off Fletcher’s Cove earlier than anyone c

an recall. Where river herring swim, striped bass will follow, so even in late February, some beautiful stripers were pulled up from the deep clear, chilly water. These are strictly catch and release fish as striped bass do not come into “season” until May.

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Jim Stables with a very early American shad at Fletcher’s (photo by Jim Stables)

Jim Stables is an avid kayak angler who uses his green-hulled fishing set-up to great advantage. On Thursday, March 9th, he was lucky (and skilled) enough to boat both a hickory and an American shad. This is the earliest date of arrival for these fish anyone can remember at Fletcher’s. American shad should be at least a couple of weeks behind the hickories but this pattern seems to be changing. One can only speculate as to why this is happening. Could it be global warming, or possibly some migratory alteration due to the many stocked American shad of the late 1990s and early 2000s? At this point, one can only guess and hope that the schools of both types of shad hang around at Fletcher’s for many weeks to come. When Fletcher’s opens later this month, we will have a good selection of shad darts, spoons and flies for sale. When the next warm spell wipes away this frigid purgatory, do not hesitate to try your luck casting from the shoreline anywhere from Fletcher’s Cove on up to Chain Bridge. Boat rental availability will follow a bit later in the season. You should call ahead for rental status; we may start the fishing season with a reduced number of boats, as comprehensive repairs are being performed on our well worn (and unique) wooden fleet..

The white perch spawning run at Fletcher’s Cove did not materialize during the late days of our “false spring.” This is probably just as well since water temps have now fallen so low as to give most of the fish species lock-jaw until things warm up a bit. Could they have sensed what was coming? The perch run used to attract many anglers to the cove for a reliable catch and a tasty result if you were willing to sharpen a fillet knife and fire-up a cast iron pan. Die-hard perch anglers remain, fewer in number but still seeking the satisfaction of filling a bucket with silver jumbos. The perch run usually has three peaks, one in late March, one in mid April and another in early May.

Brooks Noble with a 50 inch blue catfish

Brooks Noble with a 50 inch blue catfish at Fletcher’s Cove (Photo by Dan Ward)

Brooks Noble, a former employee of Fletcher’s, beached his private boat one warm, sunny day last week to have a chat and show off a 50-inch blue catfish in his live well. Brooks regularly catches cats weighing in excess of 30 pounds and is a good bet to catch a record sized fish in the near future. I’m anticipating a 100 pound blue from the Potomac any time in the next few years. It has happened in the James, so why not? Blue catfish eat anything and everything and in the spring are stuffed with herring, perch, bluegills, minnows and whatever else their whiskers say is on the menu. By the way, blue catfish are an invasive species and ICE (international catfish experts) wants you to catch and deport all blues to dry land and possibly your dinner table. I’ll leave that job to others!

The boathouse now has D.C. fishing permits in stock. Once regular hours are in effect, purchasing one is easy and quick. Anyone who is over 16 and under 65 years old needs a permit to fish in District waters. Seniors over 65 and kids under 16 do not need a permit no matter where they live. Remember, as it flows by D.C., the entire Potomac from shore to shore is legally part of the city. Even if you are standing on the Virginia side you should have a D.C. fishing permit to be legal. There is much confusion on these regulations every year. You won’t get any “fake news” from Fletcher’s. Trust us, we want to “make fishing great again” for you! Just tune into our Fish Network. We have plenty of anchors. 

Thanks for reading… hope to see you soon.
Dan

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