The National Park Service is on the verge of signing a contract with GSI, the big government concessionaire, to run Fletcher's Boathouse, and expects to have fishing boats ready and the bait and tackle shop open when the fish get here later this month.
"A lot is changing and a lot is happening," said Bill Line, the NPS communications officer for the Capital Region, "but what the general public has come to know for 145 years at Fletcher's will be maintained, kept and restored under a new operator."
Line said Friday that he expects a contract to be signed early this week, with Fletcher's up and running a few days later.
Brothers Joe and Ray Fletcher retired from the concession their family had run since the late 1800s on Jan. 1. NPS has since been working to sign a replacement and apparently has now reached accord with GSI. So far there have been no visible preparations at the boathouse for the fishing season, which starts when shad, herring and perch arrive later this month.
"It's so frustrating," said Fletcher's regular Mike Bailey. "Everybody says the right things but nobody can do anything." The fleet of 50-odd wooden rental boats has not been readied and phones at the boathouse are disconnected. "Being able to launch a fleet of boats in time for fishing season is impossible," said Bailey.
But Line insisted GSI is prepared to provide traditional services soon after the contract is signed. Organizers of the Congressional Casting Call, an annual fishing event at Fletcher's that attracts 25 or 30 congressmen and senators as well as representatives of the fishing tackle industry, have sent out invitations to this year's event on April 25.
Alan Gnann, vice chairman of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, said he's been assured by NPS that the boathouse and boats will be available for the Casting Call.