Using a modified Nungesser rig to catch shad on the Potomac River, April 11, 2020

The Nungesser dart-spoon combo rig is a classic. It is easy to tie (see here), and you can swap dart and spoon sizes to adjust to the current and the shad’s bite.

However, there are three reasons why one might need to add a little weight to this rig: (1) fast current; (2) low-lying fish; and (3) casting distance.

Fast current will make your baits slow to sink, which can leave you missing the fish. Othertimes shad will be way deep—down near the bottom, and without additional wait your rig will not stay low as your reel in. Finally, sometimes the fish are far out in the river, and your cast can’t reach them without addign weight.

Splitshot are tried and true, but they have a downside: your rig can get tangled on them. Which is a drag.

I recently chose to add my weight another way: I added a small barrel sinker above the swivel. So my set -up goes: reel—line—barrel sinker—plastic bed—swivel—dart/spoon rig. You can see it in the video above. This rig has worked marvelously. I nabbed about 30 fish on it in two hours this morning. I got 20-some fish on it two days ago. And the rig has held strong—it is made of 10-pound monofilament. (The reel has 8-pound monofilament.)

My first shad of 2020, caught on March 10

Kosar shad 2020I got this handsome hickory shad on maybe my 30th cast. He nailed the medium chartreuse dart rather than the tailing medium gold spoon.

Five casts later I had another good hit, but the fish slipped off almost immediately.

I quit after perhaps my 200th cast. I had gotten no more bites, despite swapping rigs and dart and spoon sizes (I even added a grub jig). The came back to Fletcher’s Cove twice in the following five days and got no bites.

So this shad was a miracle for me. It is very early in the shad run. I’ve not seen them breaking the surface; nor have I seen them hugging the walls down at the Tidal Basin. And their fellow travelers the perch also are nowhere to be found.

Two weeks from now the story will be different. Stay tuned!

Catching Striped Bass and Walleye —and a Flathead Catfish— at Fletcher’s Cove

Kosar striped bass 05-2019
This happened—after bouncing 3/4 ounce bucktail-type jigs with trailing sparkling plastic shad and worms (4 to 6 inch) off the bottom with quick snaps of the wrist.

But this also happened, which was utterly unexpected. He weighed 12 to 15 pounds, and took a few minutes to bring to the boat. Young blue catfish came up on the jig-plastic rig too. The 15-pound leader attached to 10-pound line handled these beasts, to my amazement.

Kosar flathead catfish 05-2019


Walleye also jumped at the jig (sans plastics), but in early season are best chased with green worms popped on a round jighead (1/2 to 3/4 ounces). Drag it along the bottom on the Virginia side of the river, where the bottom is more gravelly and sandy. (Sorry, no photo!)

Fletcher’s Cove, by the way, is here, and offers rowboats you can rent out.

How to Catch Shad at Fletcher’s Cove in Washington, DC

Folks can land shad various ways. Fly fisherman often feast on them. Standard rod users too. The trick is to put something small and flashy in front of these lust-crazed fish’s eyes. (Shad, you may know, are plankton eaters. They strike lures out of reaction not hunger.

Let me here address landing them on standard gear.

A rig of split-shot and a spoon or a shad dart and a spoon is very effective—from the shore and a boat. See here for more details. In simplest fashion, tie a shad/herring spoon at the end of your line. Then 18-24 inches above add weight, either in the form of splitshot sinkers) or a shad dart. Continue reading

My first shad of 2019, caught on March 16

Kosar shad 03-16-2019.jpgI saw a post from uber angler¬†Alex Binsted on Friday, March 15—he had caught a shad near Fletcher’s Cove. I contactd a fishy friend and learned that his son had been on with Binstead and also had bagged a shad. A check of the water temperature showed me the time had come—the Potomac was 50-51 degrees. That’s the temperature to start chucking for shad, and the perch who often can be found with them.

So there I was at 7:30am in the brisk morning air (mid-40s, 15mph cool wind), right after sunrise. It took half an hour, but then the hit came—a load on the big Nungesser spoon. It took maybe 30 seconds to get the fish in, who ran left and right and leapt out of the water. It was a beautiful fish, around 17 inches, and thick. I got the spoon hook out of the top of its mouth and soon it was rocketing back into the depths.

More late November catfish from the Anacostia River

The boy has caught a lot of catfish, but for some reason he got really excited about this one. We were at one of our favorite spots on the Anacostia River in Washington, DC.

I used the usual bait (stinky chicken) and rigs (homemade Santees). We had six rods out, which meant we kept very busy, hauling in one fish after another. You can catch a glimpse of the 100-quart cooler I turned into a four-rod holder. (Quick how-to video here.) I have dropped the cooler in a garden cart, which makes it way easier to pull if I am having a heavy gear day.

Catching Catfish at Diamond Teague in Washington DC

Cool November weather means voracious catfish. I was averaging four fish per hour, with six rods out.

Five of the six had my home-made Santee rigs on them. On the other pole I simply tied a 6/0 circle hook to the end of the line, and tied a 2-ounce pyramid sinker about 2 feet up the line. (Crude, but it works, although the hook-up rate is a little lower.)

The catfish hit on my chicken stink bait and some rotten bacon. The biggest of the bunch was 15.5 pounds and more than 30 inches. (See the photo below.) I had a much bigger fish hit and draw out line. He felt like a swimming tire—and slipped the hook after about 15 seconds, unfortunately.

As the video shows, when I go catfishing it tends to be cardio vascular exercise. Spreading rods out over a wide area enables one to locate the hot spots and to get exercise dashing from one end of the dock to the other.

Kosar catfish 11-17-2018

That is a 100-quart cooler, mind you.