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Travels in Fishing

- Washington, DC - (Fletchers Boathouse)

The shad are running!

April 30, 2007

In Washington, no fishing report is complete without mentioning Fletcher’s Boathouse, a mile east from Chain Bridge. Going towards Georgetown on Canal Road, it is almost impossible to drive into; some people even back down the seemingly one-way entrance, that faces Georgetown. Do not (in fact, cannot) try this during rush hour. It is the place for shad season, and even stripers and catfish.

Every year I feel more and more like Charlie Brown kicking the ball as Lucy holds it and pulls it away at the last second. I go shad fishing and the shad jump and laugh at me. The first year, we rented a boat and I was lucky enough to catch one American Shad (very rare) and a couple of Hickory Shad. Both species are protected within the DC boundary and must be released unharmed. Every year since, I have been bank fishing and skunked – no shad, no catfish, not even a perch.

So this is going to be my last year, of seeing people walk to shore with 20lb catfish and hear people talk of catching the [mythical] 40” striper – which is out of season now. Of course I have never seen anyone with a striper of any size. Maybe it’s a mix of Monty Python and metric: when he says he caught a 42” fish, he really means he caught a 42 centimetre fish …

I was loaded for sturgeon: 3-4 artificial Fishbites, cut herring, and at least 20 shad darts and spoons. To increase the odds, we rented a rowboat, but so late in the day we could only fish two hours.

We had a fly rod, a heavy spinning rod for the herring, in case there might be any catfish or stripers, a light spinning rod for shad – all of them out at once. We could see shad jumping all over in the cove, but nothing happening in the main current. It was maddening. First cast to one rising, then the next. Absolutely nothing. We had been warned at the dock that the storm the night before had made the river turbid and muddy. Since shad are not in an eating frenzy, but in a territorial protection frenzy, I guess they could not see the bright yellow/green darts we were casting. We just were not threatening enough.

So this was our final annual commemorative tour at Fletchers. Not just skunked but not even a nibble, not even a lost rig. The only positive spin I could think of was that least we had spent only two hours getting skunked. It could have been worse: it could have been four …

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Contact: Buzz Andrews
Savannah, GA


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