Spring has come, and the shad are running up the rivers and waterways of the east coast. Here in Washington, DC, shad come in from the ocean, through the Chesapeake Bay, and up the Potomac River. (Map here.) They make the journey from salty to fresh water to spawn.
Conveniently, the Potomac narrows in northwest DC, and angler flock to Fletcher’s Cove in mid-March and April to catch some of the bazillions of shad that stack up.
This spring has been rainy, which swells the river and makes it cloudy. It is tough to catch shad when they cannot see the darts and spoons, and a swollen river is a dangerous river. (See the rig below.)
I have been out to catch shad four times so far (March 27, and April 11, 15, and 24), and yet to be skunked. Despite the river being muddy from the heavy rains a week ago, I bagged about a dozen shad in less than two hours. Finding the level where the shad are racing by is key. To move the lures lower in the water, one adds splitshot about the swivel. Start it one and add additional splitshots. Also, give the lure longer to sink. I start with a three count (splash, 1, 2, 3, reel) and then increase that count as high as ten. (Do keep the bail closed—otherwise more line will spool out and you can end up with a tangled rig.)
Today I had an unusual experience: a massive shad hit broke my 10-pound line. Many folks who fish for shad use 8- or 6-pound line. I use 10 because shad are so wild and thrash so much. Still, as the video above shows, the stronger line was not able to withstand the hit. Whether it was one huge roe-laden shad or two shads hanging on the dart and the spoon I will never know.