And so it begins...
With Fletcher’s set to open this Friday, March 24th we thought it’d be appropriate to hit y’all with our forecast for Opening Day. We’ll be providing a weekly update throughout #SHADNESSMADNESS so be sure to check back each Monday…until the dogwoods blossom…
As water temps continue to rise, expect shad, striper, and blue cat activity to pick up in a big way. Shad have been in the river for a few weeks now but have since disappeared after the big blow. That said, it’s only a matter of time before they get all hot and bothered into eating things they normally don’t eat. More importantly though…the herring have been here since February and the buffet is set for the river’s biggest predators…
The recent (and desperately needed) snow and rain will add some flow and color to our Nation’s River which will make drift fishing a tad easier and hopefully keep fish in the area around the cove longer. Expect the cove to be fishing high and a bit off color this weekend (think 4.6-5.0ft on the gauge). We’d recommend tying your shad flies in pink, black/gold, black/purple, and chartreuse as these colors tend to show up better when the river is being fussy like this. Same goes for stripers….
When flows are up it’s important to take note of the tides. You’ll always want to be fishing some sort of tide swing in this river and the same plays up in a big way for #SHADNESSMADESS. It often dictates the bite. A falling tide/low tide when the river is up will mean you’re dealing with much faster water in and around the cove. In the same breath, an incoming/high tide will be slower and more manageable. Aim to make your moves when the water is right and if you’re fishing the outgoing make sure you’ve got a good anchor rock!
As far as gear goes for shad, we’d recommend using a 250-350gr sinking line and 7-8wt fly rods with about 3-4’ of 10-12lb fluorocarbon leader. Rigging flies in tandem is always a good way to experiment with colors and figure out what’s pissing them off in particular that day. For the striped fish and big cats, 9-12wt rods are imperative for dealing with big fish in big current. You really do not want to be under-gunned. A 250 grain line in the softer water on the right tide will get you down but if you’re looking to fish the main current we’d recommend something in the 350-450gr range to get down. Herring patterns will be your best bet while the big fish are around, think 7-10”, flashy…and while white/red should be the go to for most of the season, the aforementioned colors above will probably be your best bets to eliciting a strike from the District’s most mercurial and beloved gamefish while conditions are the way they are.
Rise up, pursue the pull, and enjoy the good clean livin’ this weekend.
Remick Smothers is a native son of the District of Columbia and the founder of FlyTimesDC.