shad season

laurelrun

laurelrun

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Mar 7, 2014
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I suppose that's how it goes. I made plans to chase some trout with a buddy instead, so I'll save the shad pursuit for next week sometime.
 
Baron

Baron

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Apr 13, 2020
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I could use some pointers here. I had been told the to catch shad you met fish it the channel. even sometimes in riffles. Yesterday I saw numerous 'heavily armed boats' in the shallow well of the channel and also some others in the open pool. This was at Sandts eddy and a few other spots btwn Easton and Martin's creek. Do shad alway hold the channel? Are they found in slack water?
 
P

poopdeck

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Baron, getting into shad fishing is easy. Stop and look where the majority of boats congregate. You will see that one or two boats are tearing it up while a few others are catching a few and some catch nothing. The guys doing all the catching aren't necessarily better fisherman they just have the spot. Spot is everything in shad fishing. The best spots are pretty consistent year to year. Sometimes the best spot is slightly different in the early part of the run and changes slightly at the end of the run.

The difference between a good spot and a bad spot could be 10 feet. One guy is catching 6 an hour and a guy 10 feet away doesn't have a single hit. That's shad fishing. Everybody knows where the best spots are it's who gets up earliest to get them. Some years they come up in a single file line with a longer run. other times they come up in a wide path but with a shorter run. So far this year they seem to be coming up single file. The importance of spot is magnified during a long thin run.

So in your scenario, just look to see who's catching 50 of them and who is not. You will have the answer to your question. Today I was out and the shad fishing was fantastic with a couple boats ending with 60 fish boated. I got out late and left early and only caught a handful. I didn't have the best spot but still managed a few from the outskirts. That's shad fishing. Good thing about shad fishing is I may have the spot next time out.

I generally fish for them in 6 to 10' which happens to be the deepest water where I fish. Nobody and I mean nobody fishes the shallowest water. I'm not saying they can't be caught in the shallowest water, I'm just saying nobody fishes the shallow water for them where I fish. I have seen people wading in the river in certain spots upriver but they don't seem to catch many.
 
Baron

Baron

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At sandt's eddy all the boats that launched went up river to the RR bridge or further. In my drift boat with an electric motor I can barely make it across to the channel and back. Any boats coming up from downriver said the. fishing was poor. I'll try the spinning rod before this is over.
 
M

Mike

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Baron,
Shad fishing is so hit or miss at this time of the year when water temps keep fluctuating and flow keeps dropping that further hindering your chances as a novice shad angler puts you at an extreme disadvantage. I recommend learning when and where to find them, when they are most vulnerable (time of day, month, temp, flow etc) at a given location, and do this with a spinning rod. Once you know the ropes, then switch to a fly rod if that’s your real desire. May is more predictable, but anglers usually (in general) go farther north then. I say in general because I once had a super day in Riegelsville from a boat on Memorial Day weekend. We were the only boat on the water.
 
Baron

Baron

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Sage advise Mike and I thank you. I did decide that if I continue it will have to be on spinning gear. So many distractions.
I guess I'll have to bank fish after all as my little drift boat can't compete with the current.
 
JoeE

JoeE

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Sep 12, 2006
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Sandfly. Thank you for sharing a picture of your shad fly box. It looks similar to mine. I also tie most of the same color and styles but also on jig heads for high water flow and deep pools. Thanks again. Joe E
 
B

bdhoover77

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Jan 6, 2022
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Towson, Maryland
I’m thinking about giving shad fishing a go here in Maryland this spring. What type of tackle do you suggest? I’ve read some articles about using the 9’ 5wt rod. But what type of line should I use? I don’t have any experience with sinking or intermediate lines, so I’m not sure where to start.
 
J

JeffK

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Sep 11, 2006
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I'd say a saltwater outfit like a 9' 8wt is more common for shad. A 5wt might be a touch light to handle shad in fast water IMHO. However, one of my best fly days for shad was on the Beaverkill with a 9' 5wt floating line when I accidentally found shad while streamer fishing for trout. But it was late season and didn't need to fight current all that much.

Sinking line or not depends on water level and time of year and where the shad are. I fish the Delaware which is a big river. In early in the run the fish are mostly heading up the channel in strong current where I fish between Riegelsville and Easton. Typically need a sinking or sink tip line and generally I prefer spinning to fishing a sinking fly line. As stated earlier the shad come up in a line. When fishing from shore you cast past the channel and let the flies/lures swing through the path. Once past need to recast. If the fish are concentrated in a narrow channel the constant casting to swing through the zone can be tiring with a sinking line. People in boats just anchor in the zone and let the flies hang downstream. Some days they spread out more and sinking lines make more sense for me. Late in season near spawning the water is lower and I fish smaller waters above the Water Gap with a floating line - fish are only 3' deep where I go more or less. If water is low flies can be more effective than spinning tackle because you can get a more subtle presentation.

Shad fishing is different than smallie fishing. You do not want to bounce bottom. Shad are migrating some distance off the bottom and take flies in their face or slightly above. One of the keys to shad fishing is adjusting the drift (mending, how far upstream to cast, weight, etc (it's not all weight). Once you dial it in you can have epic days. However, if you fish too deep you will hang up often and hook up rarely. It see many people go too heavy and be frustrated. The shad game is to experiment until you get the drift just right - through the fish and at the right depth.

That said, there are times when the shad run right up against the bank so you don't need to cast far or sink the flies deep. At certain water levels early the shad can come up right along the shore in the soft water behind the bars formed at tributary mouths. These spots can be too shallow at normal levels and too steep a dropoff at very high levels, but there can be a sweet spot where they come up close to shore - sometimes a rod tip away. In late season they come near shore too and often you can see the schools pass by.

Hard to tell if you need a sinking line without knowing the conditions. Ask locals for your rivers. However, be wary of going too deep.
 
F

falcon

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Feb 8, 2011
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I generally use a stout (med fast to fast) 9ft 6wt or 10ft 7wt with a fast sink tip line. A good reel with a smooth drag is essential. I have used clicker reels in the past and have almost been spooled. However it was fun.
 
Bamboozle

Bamboozle

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Berks County, PA
I’m thinking about giving shad fishing a go here in Maryland this spring. What type of tackle do you suggest? I’ve read some articles about using the 9’ 5wt rod. But what type of line should I use? I don’t have any experience with sinking or intermediate lines, so I’m not sure where to start.
I assume when you say Maryland you are talking about Hickory Shad which are a totally different animal literally and figuratively versus American Shad in the Delaware River.

If it is Hickory Shad to plan to chase, you'll be fine with 9'0" 5wt and maybe a floating line as most of the fishing for them is done in creeks, not rivers.
 
B

bdhoover77

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Towson, Maryland
Correct, I am primarily thinking about fishing the local Maryland rivers. I’ve also been thinking about getting a heavier rod (compared to my trout rods) for bass.
 
Bamboozle

Bamboozle

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Everybody I know that chases Hickory Shad uses trout gear, that's the appeal of it so you shouldn't have buy that bass rod just yet. ;)
 
Balt Co Wanderer

Balt Co Wanderer

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Jan 20, 2022
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Monkton, MD
Correct, I am primarily thinking about fishing the local Maryland rivers. I’ve also been thinking about getting a heavier rod (compared to my trout rods) for bass.
You’ll be fine with a five weight on DC or Oct off the suski. I usually use my seven weight any way though. It’s not over kill. This year, I may be using the five weight because my seven weight reel just broke this morning.
 
JoeE

JoeE

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Sep 12, 2006
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Sandfly I’m not as ready as you. But if I get a chance I’ll give them a go! With an additional box of Clouser minnows before sunrise if any strippers are in the deep runs here in Virginia 😀.
 

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