More Tips on Catching Shad

This is what it is like during the shad run. Lots of bites and catches. In a 2.5 hour period I caught close to 50 fish, with instances where caught fish on 5 consecutive casts. Here you see me get multiple bites and 2 shad in five minutes.

Shad fishing is busy work; you cast and reel every 45 seconds or so. Continue reading

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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, April 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.

How to catch longnose gar at the Tidal Basin

Kosar fishing gar 06-17-2018.jpg

A young longnose gar caught at the Tidal Basin on June 17, 2018. I lost two of them before I landed this one.

The longnose gar looks like a dinosaur. Or a gator crossed with a barracuda or somesuch lean, torpedo-shaped fish.

Fossils of gar-like fish date back 100 million years, and I cannot but help feel a bit of awe each time I see a gar cruising slowly a foot or two below the surface.

There are different types of gar in U.S. freshwaters, but here in DC it is the longnose gar that is most often found. This fish can grow to six feet in length, and their long mouths are filled with dozens of small teeth that remind me of carpet tacks.

Many folks catch gar on homemade lures made from nylon rope. I’ve not tried that technique, mostly because I am a little concerned about getting nylon fibers stuck in a gar’s mouth. But, if one is planning to take the gar home to cook, and they are apparently tasty, well, this is no matter. This approach also requires one to cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve….

And, to be entirely honest, I’ve learned another way that works and is easier.

Continue reading

Shad fishing: Size matters

Kosar shad spoonsMidway through this season I took a tip from two old pro’s and switched my preferred shad rig to a shad spoon with a little split-shot a couple feet above it. Wow, whereas my darts got a little attention, the crazy fluttering spoon was hammered relentlessly. Both gold and nickel ones got equal love from the lust-crazed shad.

The first spoon I used was a Nungesser 20 (the one at the bottom of the photo above. The 20G-1 is gold and the 20N-1 is nickel. Click the links to buy them.) It worked great for a couple of weeks. Then it didn’t. I was baffled—donde est shad?

Frustrated, I swapped to a wee little spoon. (The one at the top of the photo.) WHAM! Suddenly the fish were hitting again. And these shad were much smaller than the hogs that had been hitting previously. So I learned something—the size of shad running can change, and one needs to adjust hook size accordingly. I also was delighted to find blueback herring hopping on these trim little shad spoons.

Continue reading