Monday, April 7, 2014

Fly Fishing For Shad - My First Shad Of The Year

I had not planned to fish yesterday. I got up before the pixie which is rare. Ate breakfast, packed up some Gatorade, spare waders, and gear and headed out to meet a client at 0900 at Four Mile Run. The outflow is to the right.

The weather was great-bluebird skies, a bit of a chill burning off with the rising sun, and a slight wind. Daniel Bedell met us out there to take some photos.  After we geared up we walked in.

Casting was great and we got into some fish. The outflow hole was full of river herring (looked more like Blueback but its hard to tell). The males were pushing the females up against the drop offs and ledges and we saw our first spring spawn of the year.

I finished with Mike at 11ish and decided to head up to Chain Bridge to check on the conditions. I walked down to Pimmet Run and there was nothing. One random guy with a stick just standing there (?) and two guys fishing for cats down stream. As I had driven in on the GW Parkway I noticed  Fletchers was renting boats.

I headed over to Fletchers. My first inclination was to walk upriver and find some fish. I took brief walk, looked at some of the ground cover blooming, and headed back down.

If Friday was a ghost town at Fletchers, yesterday was rush hour. It was packed. Anglers, picnickers, hikers, families, boaters, and more.

I walked downstream to the point. It was bushwacking through log jams from previous floods. As I still had my waders on I opted to walk through the mud (exposed before tide rolled in) which was messy but easier. I found a lot of bobbers in the woods which I collected as my daughter is obsessed with them. She wants a new one each time we visit a tackle shop.

This was prime copperhead territory. I don't like to walk over log jams on a sunny day. I grew up in the woods and our backyard was full of short but fat copperheads.

 They preferred to sit on the beaver dams where they blended in with the logs.

I had my machete unlocked in its sheath. I made lots of noise to let them know I was there.

 I had my old Orvis 5wt with a 1999 Battenkill large arbor reel, 7wt Orvis sink tip and a box of shad flies from about 4-5 years ago. I clamored onto the rocks at the point and found one guy sitting down and casting shad darts into the current. I climbed above him and stood on a piece of tree that looked like some medieval shield. I stood on top of this on the log jam and watched two guys to my right toss tandem shad darts. They were hooking up on almost every cast. Big shad. Strong shad. Aggressive shad.

I rigged up my rod with a chargruese jig with a damsel dropper. I started casting while I watched them catch and release and repeat. They told me they were giving their darts a 10 count before retrieving.

After a few casts I connected to my first shad of the year. I don't often get to fish for shad as I'm mostly working.

The fight consisted of a rod bending and fly line singing raucous. If I had one extra piece of gear (besides a stripping basket) it would have been a stripping guard for my finger.

For the next 40 min or so I was into fish every few minutes. Some of them were on the retrieve, most were on the swing. Some of them were a foot or two in front of the guy sitting on the rock. I could not believe how much these fish were fighting.

The first several fish took the damsel. I told you they were strong. They were bending my hooks. Same hooks I use for steelhead.

They say the tug is the drug. The tug on these fish was exhausting. At some points I thought my 5wt was going to break.

Here is a bent caddis/shrimp hook. I'm glad I ordered 500 more of them on Friday.

I didn't get hung up on the bottom once. This bend was straight up fish pulled.

I did break off one fish. I was using 8lb Berkley Vanish. I found that the bigger fish took the shad jig. What ever took that jig and broke my line must have been BIG.

 This is one of the smaller shad. Hickory shad (they have an underbite)

Note the forked tail. If you listen to the podcast you know that forked tailed fish are built for speed.

 Another beauty. As I mentioned I needed a stripping basket. This was the most inhospitable fishing location I have been in. There were thousands of sticks and branches sticking out at every angle. If you find this spot, bring a stripping basket.

I'll leave you with this image of my bent rod. I can't remember the last time this rod was this bent. The line was humming while I took this pic. It was loads of fun to get out and fish. I don't often get to to that. The problem is I went home too early (no food or drink as I had not planned to be out there).


I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.

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