Once a year, the simple phase, “this Shad are in!” galvanizes anglers across northern and central Virginia to make immediate plans to visit either the James, Rappahannock or Fletcher’s on the Potomac. I was no exception. For the last week ,I had been waiting anxiously for that riveting call to come .. and it finally arrived on Wednesday night. The shad are in! Linkup at 0630! Roger that!
I was so excited, but I couldn’t sleep; tossing and turning with a watchful eye on the clock as the hands crept around to the appointed waking hour. Even then, I ended up getting up early, getting dressed and sucking coffee to head out early to guaranteeing an on time arrival. I rolled into the VFW parking lot and pulled on waders, fiddling with flies and tippet while chatting with other anglers as I waited for Lon to arrive. Once the light was up, I wandered over to the edge of the berm to look down at the river. It looked great – running clean and clear and unusually shallow for this time of the year. All indicators were a “go!”
I had not been fishing for a while and it was a shock to my legs when the cold, 56° water began to swirl around, insisting on pushing me downstream as I moved into the deeper water adjacent to the broad channel that runs up under the center span of the US 1 bridge. Since we decided green and white would be the color of the day, I tied on a double and began heaving my sinking fly line into the center channel. That was about it. I got plenty of practice, but not one hit – nothing! One of the other guys claimed to have caught three earlier, before we arrived, and I did not see any excitement in the sparse crowd during the four hours Lon and I fished under the bridge.
When skunked, one always looks for positives. In this case, there were several.
- I was not a work
- It was a beautiful day
- We observed a fantastic sunrise
- The water was not horribly cold
- I only lost a few flies on the bottom
The key point of the day was brought home as I observed the slow, crawling line of cars and trucks inching their way across the bridge in route to the embedded, expected horrors of the longer commute on I-95. Shuddering and with a quick prayer of thanks, I returned to my “practice” and hoped for a better day when I returned next week!
Getting There: From I95, take exit 133A for Falmouth. Follow it to Route 1. Turn right on Route 1 and go across the bridge. Take your first left at the light to stay on Rt 17, then an immediate left on Van Buren Street. Park anywhere on the left. You can also continue down to Caroline Street and turn either right or left to find a place to park next to the river.
Google Local Coordinates: 38.319202,-77.47138
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is well known.
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Bluebird sky with a blazing sunrise hinted at a great day ahead. Turned out to be false hope
The sight of anglers in the foreground framed by commuters on the bridge in the background says it all about priorities.
Whaaaat???? Come on… you have to know your jeans are too short when half your butt hangs out…. it was chilly! We don’t want to look at this….
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore