Shad Run and Done

There baaack! My favorite time of the angling year. For the uninitiated in the American Shad world, it’s historic, easy, and fun for any age.

Did you know that shad saved George Washington’s army at Valley Forge?

During a particularly harsh winter, many (some account as much as half) died from starvation.

When the spring run of shad entered the river, the troops netted them with the aid of horses by the thousands.

Shad festivals and planking parties occur all up and down the east coast, from the St. John’s River in north Florida to the New England Coast and are almost as much fun as the fishing, but not quite.

Pandemonium would be the best word to describe the fight.

They are incredibly powerful for their size and use their large surface area to their advantage.

Once they enter the freshwater rivers for their annual spawning run, they quit eating. Like most anadromous fish, their mind is set solely on making babies.

However, much like salmon in the Pacific NW, they can be caught by using the right fly.

Locally, it’s 99% a game of chartreuse. White, pink, red CAN work, but I assure you chartreuse WILL work. It’s a reaction strike.

I don’t think they are trying to eat it personally, but either kill it or are simply biting out of annoyance.

Since the most productive method is to “swing” a fly, I think the latter makes more sense since the fly is constantly in the fishes face as it positions itself in the best current.

Fish 2 flies- always. They will hit the trailing fly 9 times out of 10 and your bite ratio will skyrocket.

I’ve tested the theory during a hot bite and it’s so very true, drop to one fly (add a tad of weight to compensate- and nada, zip, zero.

The best tip I can give you here is to attach the trailer fly with a different color monofilament. It will make untangling so much much easier.

I enjoy shad because they fight like few other fish can

I like to use a 150-250 grain sinking line and a 4-5’ leader for the fishery here in S.C.

Whether it’s in the Cooper or Santee river systems, this gives me the best range in the swift and deeper currents upriver.

I don’t care for the taste (at all), but shad roe is considered to be a Southern delicacy.

Wrapped in bacon, fried, and served over grits is the classic method.

Overall, I enjoy shad because they fight like few other fish can and it’s generally a happy light hearted affair.

Oh did I mention, you’ll never be alone up the river. It’s no secret.


Scotty Davis | Flymen Fishing Co

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