The Yack Report: Shad Fishing

I had a most interesting day yesterday. It was full of failures and successes.

I am very pleased with the quality and size of the Hickory Shad this year lots of Roe fish 20″ and better. The small bucks have showed up as well this week. I hope this cold weather slows things down a bit or it all be over before you know it.

My friend Lisa Doricchi asked me to show her friends around the Shad grounds. I had the pleasure of “guiding” these two lady fly fishers to some shad fishing in Cecil County.

Mary and her friend Cynthia met me at the spot around noon. The first thing we did was exchange flies and talk fly building. Mary is an excellent fly fisherwoman as well as an accomplished fly maker. Last year she gave me one of the most beautiful bunker flies I had ever seen.

I caught numerous Stripers on this as a teaser above a jigging spoon before they “bit the eyes off of it”. Yesterday she gave me two more of the same pattern. The gift was a success for me and we had not left the parking lot! I gave her some Walleye flies tied up in “fire-tiger” pattern; she smiled as she stuck them in her fly vest.

My original plan was to move around the county showing them several different streams which are very much “fly friendly”.

Recent scouting trips on Sunday proved that the smaller creeks and streams were holding very few Shad. I really wanted to put them on the fish so we met at the Susquehanna River where I knew there were some fish. The dam was scheduled to release 41,000 cfs at 11 a.m., it did not happen until almost 2 p.m.

In that time of low water we caught nothing despite overcast skies and beautiful conditions. Within 20 minutes of the water release I caught our first Shad of the day. A few casts later I had a double header of large Hickory Shad that challenged my skills on the little 5’ ultra-light rod. Using NUNGUESSER silver and gold spoons we continued to catch the Hickory Shad throughout the afternoon.

The fish were holding on the outside of the current seams towards the main river. This is very unusual at this spot. They are typically found on the inside of the current seams closer to shore. With the fish being farther out the little spinning rod was much more effective at catching these hard fighting high jumping fish. Mary caught a few good ones and Cynthia had a couple of bites but failed to hook up.

Around 6 p.m. we took a break and I ran out to the local coffee shop and brought back three warm drinks. As we were sipping coffee and chatting I noticed several small bait fish running for their lives. “It is time” I said and quickly grabbed my Walleye plugging rod and cast downstream of the jumping bait. As the little RAPALA shallow shad rap approached the area the bait was slammed by a large Striper. It mangled one set of hooks and straightened most of the others. One single tine was all that connected me to the fish.

Possibly the reason the shad were farther out in the river was because these big fish were in close.

All in all it was a good day with good people and steady catching on spinning rods. Sitting here thinking back the water we were fishing and where the fish were holding was not fly friendly for good catching. I am second guessing myself wondering if I should have stuck to the original plan of fishing the small creeks, less fish but more friendly for fly fishing.

With this thought in mind I have a new respect for anyone that is a full time guide. . To consistently put people on the fish can be a challenging endeavor!



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