FISH AMERICA: Washington D.C.

On Monday of this past week, I got the chance to fish the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. with a man named Mike Bailey. When I spoke with him, he said we'd be fishing from a rowboat.

On Tuesday I was asked if I wanted to fish with a guy named Mike Benjamin out of Solomons Island, Maryland. It would a commercial trip with Mike and his mother. It would be a long day, at least 15 hours on the water. The forecast in Maryland called for highs of more than 100 degrees.

On Wednesday I was invited to fish the Rapidan River in Syria, Virginia with a man named Tom Saddler. We'd be fishing using "Tenkara" rods. All I knew going in was that there was no reel and there were no guides on the rod.

I was suspicious about all three propositions, but said yes. It turns out fishing from a rowboat is about as cool of a way to see the Potomac River, as historic a body of water as there is on the East Coast, as you can get. Oh yeah, and in the spring Mike Bailey catches 50-pound stripers out of those rowboats, which pull him around like a one-fish version of the eastern Iditarod.

Fishing with Mike Benjamin? Well I've never fished with a man as proficient and business-like about putting stripers in the boat who still manages to have so much fun. This guy has a job to do, and doesn't waste time. The surface blitzes I saw in the Chesapeake Bay alone surpassed anything I'd seen in the Northeast. And by the way, I think his mother could fish circles around me.

And Tenkara? No guides, no reel, no problem. Tenkara is an alternate form of fly-fishing that eliminates distractions and allows the angler to achieve an almost uninterrupted drift and practically a perfect presentation. The photo above demonstrates a "slingshot cast," which is exactly what it sounds like.

My point is simple. There is an increasing pressure, in a segmented angling world, to define yourself as a fisherman. Are you a surf rat, a 'yak fisherman, or a fly guy? How about…yes?

Like many, I've had my preconceptions about certain groups of anglers. But you know what? If you try a type of fishing, more likely than not, you'll come away realizing that it's a just a different way to get at the same stuff that almost all of us love.

I'll show you more about the Potomac, Mike Benjamin's amazing ability to find and catch stripers, and Tenkara fishing in the week ahead, and some good old-fashioned conventional offshore fun out of Hatteras, North Carolina to top it all off. But in the meantime, when someone asks what type of fisherman you are, just nod your head.