Video: Hundreds of Fish Take Over Favorite Kayaking Spot

Video: Annual Shad Migration at Little Falls

Spoiler alert: There aren’t any kayakers in this video. But it does feature an amazing annual natural phenomenon that only takes place at our favorite local kayaking spot.

I spent the past week filming the great shad migration at Little Falls on the Potomac River in Washington DC. Every Spring around the end of April, countless fish swim up the Potomac River, only to get stuck at Little Falls, a stretch of whitewater rapids at the west border of Washington DC. The fish swim to the side of the river to avoid the strongest currents. There I could see hundreds of large fish bunched together, resting up for their next attempt to swim, flop, or fly up the falls. Many tried, most failed, some succeeded. But it’s incredible to watch.

Little Falls is a favorite kayaking spot for DC area whitewater kayakers. Some kayakers have reported how odd it is to repeatedly (accidentally) hit fish on the head while trying to paddle around this time of year. I watched several kayakers paddle through Little Falls in between filming the fish. Lots of fishermen come out this time of year also. Sometimes creating a bit of an obstacle course for paddlers to navigate - to avoid being snagged by fishing lines. Lots of fishing birds also come out. Yesterday there were about a dozen large herons all around me while I was filming. It’s really a cool place to hang out this time of year.

Enjoy! Feel free to share!


No fish ladders?

Thanks for sharing, cool video! Many people do not realize shad in the East are like Salmon in the West. And, they do taste good!


The shad will be running here any minute now.

Nice video thanks! I’m pulling for the shad, as I once fished for them down by Fletcher’s boat house among hundreds of other fishermen.

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It’s a natural falls, not a man-made obstacle, so a fish ladder is not needed.