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
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
I 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.
Lake Cook (directions here), also called Cook Lake, is little lake in Alexandria. It’s all of four acres, but is stocked in the winter with rainbow trout and has channel catfish. (You can check the Virginia government’s stocking schedule here.)
There’s a small parking lot next to it, and Cameron Run —which is fishable— is across the street. All of which makes Cook Lake and easy-to-fish experience. I’ve hauled three young kids there without any trouble. All of them caught trout.
The lake appears to get perhaps 15 foot deep. Trout, loving cool dark waters, tend to hole up in the middle of the lake. Conveniently, there are two fishing platforms that enable long casts to the lake’s center. That said, trout can be found all over the lake (after a stocking), and you can wander anywhere about Lake Cook’s perimeter and cast with ease.
We saw fish in the canal every visit we made to Lock 3 in downtown Akron, Ohio. In summer, they are there. (Not so in winter—the shallow water is too cold.)
We’ve caught largemouths, little catfish, rock bass, sunfish, and bluegill. Here you see us contend with panfish who were skittish. But, with a little cunning we quickly scored one.
For more info on this fishing hole, see my previous Lock 3 video and blogpost.
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.