I had never fished for shad but had heard much about their fighting power and that their spawning season was very short.
So, I was really excited when Gary reached out. He told me not to worry about flies, as he already had a bunch. We picked a date and a time, and I eagerly penciled it into my calendar.
On The Day, we met up early in the morning and walked to the river. Gary then handed me some flies and told me where to cast. Soon, I was into fish and experienced the glorious runs of a silvery shad. I was impressed with its power.
Over the half-day, we bumped into all sorts of piscatorial critters, from shad to panfish to bass. We saw some enormous carp but couldn’t get them to take. Gary landed a pile of fish. I did decently but was just happy to be out and targeting a new species.
Shad are like steelhead; they are anadromous, and when they’re spawning, they’re not thinking of eating. They’re fish on the move. Shad park themselves behind structure as they rest before continue to push upstream. So, you target “rest places” and not the usual runs where fish hang in order to feed.
Gary and I were fishing during the tail-end of the spring shad run, but the water was still in the cool-ish 60s and decently high. This meant plenty of oxygen and cover for the fish, and their fighting ability displayed all that.
The best fish of the day for me was a beautiful 18″ shad with a purple hue. It smelled of the ocean and was fun to catch.
On occasion, I could see shad in the shallows and proceeded to tightline for them. It was interesting to see their reactions. A dead-drifted fly meant that the shad just slid out of the way. A slow up-and-down jig led to takes.
All in, I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun. It also was awesome to chat with Gary while we fished. He always is very congenial and has many interesting takes on life.
Thank you, Gary, for the gift of shad. I really appreciate your friendship over the years and am grateful for your coaching. Look for a thank-you present in the mail.