shad season

Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
Thanks Afish. I am on their site every april and I only went once last year. It was a day that no one caught any. Go figure.


afishinado wrote:
Here is a link to the Delaware River Shad Fishing Assoc. report line >


https://www.drsfa.org/fishing-log


Keep an eye out for the reports in the link.

Still early, but sometime in April when the water temps warm into the 50's the shad run should be on.

They're lots of fun the catch.....but I'll leave eating them to others :-?
 
greenlander

greenlander

Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
806
Are there parts of the D that where the shad run that are friendly to novice rowers? Have a raft I'd like to put some time in, and shad sounds like a great reason to hit the D.
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
Yes the most friendly area near me runs from Foul Rift just south of the PWR Plant down to Easton. About 12 miles. Half way is a public boat ramp called Sandt's Eddy. It is there if you need it.
Shad bite around 50-51*. Watch for jet powerboats. They shoot up through the riffles on plane so that they don't get hung up. Good luck.
 
P

poopdeck

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
1,950
What area do you intend on fishing. It's a big and varied river? You can raft the Delaware river anywhere you like just ask the tens of thousands of kids that do it every year but it's probably not the best shad fishing or cold weather/water vessel. spring flows are high enough where rocks are not a concern but you better like rowing your *** off. The Lambertville area is rowing capitol of the river but they are the racing shell and recreational whearry type rowers. They are out every time I'm out. I have never seen anybody fishing from a raft between Easton and Lambertville. Kayaks, canoes, 10' tin boats but never an inflatable raft.

Not sure where your intended part of the river is but here are my interpretations of the river using the Lambertville gauge as a guide. Note: I have an 18' Jet and have nevered rowed the river or drifted it in a raft.

Over 4'- forget it

3' - 4' - can be talked into it. The closer to 3 the better but anchoring will be difficult. The closer to 4' the more inclined I am to stay home. Come to get think about it, as I get older anything over 3' makes me want to go trout fishing instead. A horrible trade off but its still fishing.

2' - 3' - I'm in

1' - 2' - perfect conditions. Can go anywhere yet little current. I think rafting would be super easy and safe as long as you don't go through the wing dam. Also the beach shows up at the ramp.

Under 1' - Super slow flows. Generally don't see the river under 1' during the shad run.
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
poopdeck wrote:
What area do you intend on fishing. It's a big and varied river? You can raft the Delaware river anywhere you like just ask the tens of thousands of kids that do it every year but it's probably not the best shad fishing or cold weather/water vessel. spring flows are high enough where rocks are not a concern but you better like rowing your *** off. The Lambertville area is rowing capitol of the river but they are the racing shell and recreational whearry type rowers. They are out every time I'm out. I have never seen anybody fishing from a raft between Easton and Lambertville. Kayaks, canoes, 10' tin boats but never an inflatable raft.

Not sure where your intended part of the river is but here are my interpretations of the river using the Lambertville gauge as a guide. Note: I have an 18' Jet and have nevered rowed the river or drifted it in a raft.

Over 4'- forget it

3' - 4' - can be talked into it. The closer to 3 the better but anchoring will be difficult. The closer to 4' the more inclined I am to stay home. Come to get think about it, as I get older anything over 3' makes me want to go trout fishing instead. A horrible trade off but its still fishing.

2' - 3' - I'm in

1' - 2' - perfect conditions. Can go anywhere yet little current. I think rafting would be super easy and safe as long as you don't go through the wing dam. Also the beach shows up at the ramp.

Under 1' - Super slow flows. Generally don't see the river under 1' during the shad run.

Great info Poopdeck, I learned to waterski a couple pools up in Lumberville.
I'm wondering if you are fly fishing for shad? I'd sure like some tips if so. Things like patterns and weight would be nice. I assume the colors remain the same as it is in Darts and Spoons.
 
P

poopdeck

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
1,950
No I sure don't. I like catching lots of shad so I 100% spin fish for them. Not that I wouldn't it's just that where I fish for them fly gear is not the best way. In fact it's probably the least effective. Occasionally I see a guy with a fly rod but they are typically "spin fishing" for them with fly rods. Sometimes I even see them downrigging with Fly rods. Guess some guys just want to say they caught a shad on a fly rod. Who knows, I'm not a fan of watching guys reel in shad after shad while I'm standing there looking silly with a fly rod in hand so I use spinning gear.

If I were to be somewhere where I was wade fishing in say 2 to 5' I would absolutely try a fly rod and I would probably us a simple flutter spoon just like when spin fishing.

I do know shad like flash and that's it. Doesn't need to look like a bug, fish or crustacean it just needs to be shiny. A gold hook with a gold sequence will catch them better then anything Ive seen marketed as a shad fly. And, as always, I find less is more.
 
JerryC

JerryC

Active member
Joined
Feb 19, 2014
Messages
392
I went through a 10 year stretch of trying to catch a shad. The first attempts were by the old factory on the PA side in New Hope. There was a small island that you could wade across a piece of high ground to get too. Ankle deep during low water, sometimes chest deep when the river was running high. There was an old spill way against the factory that created a current seam that ran close to the river side of the island. I did see a guy catch a couple of shad on a fly rod from the tip of the island. No such luck , I made a couple of trips up river, stopping at the wing dams and access points getting as far as Easton. No shad.
Just as I was learning to fly fish. A skiing club I belong to booked a X-Country ski trip at a place in PA across the river from Hancock. Turned out the owner was a guide on the river and we booked a trip with him. We fished the east branch, wading and using spinning gear we caught a 1/2 dozen shad.
Next year I brought my fly rod. One day we waded the same area as the year before. I used a sinking line with 6 to 10 foot leader of 10# test, cast upstream and let the line and fly or flutter spoon swing across the current and then let it hang in the current for a few minutes. Most hits occurred on the swing or when it was hanging in the current. I hooked a couple of shad but lost them when they jumped. Did land a couple of fallfish and smallmouth. Next day we used a drift boat but had to abort the trip halfway through because of rapidly rising water caused by heavy thunderstorms overnight upstream. We did get a chance to fish a couple of times. Anchor the boat, cast upstream to get the fly to sink, let the fly sit downstream for a few minutes, retrieve and repeat.
Now that I finished my ramble. I agree with poopdeck, if you take your boat out use spinning gear if you want to catch a shad. Bring a fly rod along. I recommend a 6 wgt rod, full sinking line, a 6 to 10 foot 10# test tippet. The flies are flashy. I still have some, I'll see if I can find them and take a picture. I tied mine on a gold hook, a size 6 Eagle Claw gold Aberdeen crappie hook. I used the gold or silver dumbbell eyes. Heavy enough that if you get hit in the back of the head with one you'll winch. Estaz thorax, floss body, tail of either marabou or calf tail. Or a body of Estaz. Colors use shad darts or flutter spoon as models. Can't go wrong with red/white, chartreuse/white. The Delaware River Shad Association web site posts reports and what color darts and flutter spoons they're hitting. The commercial fishery in Lambertville has an e-mail list you can sign up for. Whenever they set out their nets, they give you a full report of what they caught, how many of each species and also give river temperatures and river levels. I haven't gotten a report yet so they haven't started fishing.
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
Jerry I'd sure like to see images of those if you find them.
No boats yet in Easton. They line up in the pool once April is here.
I only have a Drift boat and can't fight the current this tie of year so I'll be shore fishing if I do go. Plenty of good spots.
My real love is Panfish and Pickerel, as much because I like being on these lakes as anything.
 
afishinado

afishinado

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
15,295
Location
Chester County, PA
Baron wrote:
Jerry I'd sure like to see images of those if you find them.
No boats yet in Easton. They line up in the pool once April is here.
I only have a Drift boat and can't fight the current this tie of year so I'll be shore fishing if I do go. Plenty of good spots.
My real love is Panfish and Pickerel, as much because I like being on these lakes as anything.

Here's an older shad fishing thread with info and pics of some flies >

Shad
 
greenlander

greenlander

Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
806
Thanks for all the great feedback.
 
P

poopdeck

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
1,950
I've received the 1st report of shad being caught. Long days and few to no fish. Time to uncover the boat.
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
Where, below Trenton? Still no boats in Easton. The water has been up into the trees for the first time in well over a year. Levels coming down steady but still well over the wing dam on Ghetters Island. I expect the boats to begin showing this weekend as water temps moderate.
 
P

poopdeck

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
1,950
Lambertville. Yep waters came down to a little over 3' this past weekend. Guess with this rain tge river will be back up.

You won't see many boats for another week or two. Not many people go shad fishing when it takes all day to catch 2.
 
M

Mike

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
4,273
Numbers of shad usually peak in the Easton to Riegelsville portion of the river between April 8-15, but the problem is that the river is often not very fishable in that area at that time. Flows are often higher than desirable from shore and water temp is often less than 50 deg F. Downriggers can produce in these situations, but the other problem is that the flows are often accompanied by a lot of leaf matter, which fouls lines. If by chance the flows are more fishable than usual and the temp a bit warmer, fishing can be great during that one week period. The following week is often good, at least up until about the 22nd in the Riegelsville area, but numbers of fish in the river are in the early stages of the down-swing. If the run is very large, which this yr’s male run could be, then good can be fishing extended a little in that stretch. Easton tends to be more consistent, even as the major portion of the run has passed. It is a good place to fish overall once the run begins to pass that area. Good fishing tends to last beyond the dates that I have mentioned as a rule of thumb. These observations are based on years of electrofishing for four or five weeks throughout the height of the run and from a lot of shore fishing experiences.
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
Thanks for this better explanation. I see the boats line up. A couple Guys have more invested in downriggers and electronics than I have in my house. Are they right on the bottom? I had heard from a local guy some years ago that they are in the bottom 1/3 of the water column.
The water on Ghetters Island went up one foot yesterday and down a foot today. The river should be nice next week?
 
P

poopdeck

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
1,950
As a general rule They are somewhere between the bottom and say 3' up. You may see a guy or two using Downriggers but they are pretty much a thing of the past in the Lambertville area and I would also assume around Easton but I don't fish there. You don't see many people using them anymore since we figured out depth can be accurately fished by using different diving plugs. Not a lot of need for fancy electronics either. The great thing about shad is you really don't need a lot in the way of gear and tackle to fish them. Just need April to come around.

Water will be to high and brown for me this weekend but mid week may be a possibility
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
What region or area do you fish? I've only ever caught One. It was in the riffle about a mile north of Belvediere below the cliffs.
 
J

JeffK

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
1,058
Shad are not necessarily right on the bottom, so don't bottom bounce your flies like for smallies. You will catch more fish and lose less flies. If you hit bottom all the time you are too deep.

Before flutter spoons, we used light 1/16 oz shad darts with split shot to get them down. We would put shot on until it hit bottom and then take one off.

The downrigger days refined this by using flutter spoons behind a downrigger and using a depth finder to check the depth the fish were at. Deadly, but technical.

These days I wade fish and just mess around with weight/swing until I don't hit bottom. When the depth is dialed in fishing can be fabulous; too high or too low and fishing can be tough. Play around with depth and don't bottom bounce.

As to fly fishing, I am largely a spinning guy for reasons mentioned. However, fly fishing can be very good above the Water Gap late April through early May (some years even into June). It don't like heavy fly rigs so I wait until the fish are 2' to 3' down and the flows aren't that strong. I have even seen late season conditions (lower water) where the fly guys outfish the spinning guys since the spinning rigs hit bottom too much. However, below Easton the flows are usually heavy when the shad are hot so I prefer spinning tackle. Plus, I like to wade out on a gravel bar to fly cast; can't always do that when water is up. Some of my saltwater fly/ spey steelhead friends have skills with heavier sinking rigs and do very well early below Easton (and upriver too). Spey casting really helps when there is little room for a backcast. I don't have those skills so I wait for lower water conditions upriver.

BTW, one year my best shad fly fishing day was on the lower Beaverkill by Trout Brook. Was pitching gray ghost buggers (a Don Bastian pattern) between hatches when a monster hit. Turned out to be a shad. However, locating a school of shad in an eddy that provided good fishing for a morning.
 
P

poopdeck

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
1,950
Still one here one there. I was going to head out on Monday but I think I'll wait another week.
 
Baron

Baron

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,548
Surprisingly still no boats in Easton. They’ll likely start this weekend.
JeffK nice story of a great day on the water.
 
Top