N. California Shad [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: N. California Shad

01-16-2006, 09:19 PM
After some due diligence, I discovered that typically in mid-May on the Russian River in California there's a shad run. I would expect some in the estuary as well as some moving up-river. (I'll be there attending a wedding at this time.)

I've never fished for shad before, though I do remember gear guys throwing "shad darts" on the Connecticut River years ago when I was at UMass. Is this a basic swing technique kind of fish, or cast-n-strip, or...? How do they behave in the estuary before heading upstream? And finally, of course, flies?

Don't worry--I'll do some digging on the internet to answer some of these questions, but I would appreciate some basic info in anyone is willing.



01-16-2006, 09:24 PM
Tom -

Too bad the Russian River is a winter steelhead river eh? You will be in reach of several other rivers (depending on time avail) for summer runs and May is not a bad time.

As far as shad go, I have done OK with small bonefish flies (gotchas, crazy charlies like the ones Teflon Jones is selling now) on sinktips in the Merrimac and member Domenic does real well even hooking a stray atlantic once in a while.

Here they tend to hold in large numbers in certain structures when they hit rapids or in this case a dam. They get over the dam in a lift system but still hold in certain spots. A slow deliberate swing with plenty of hang down over the edge of the shelf into the hole results is fairly regular hookups.

They are a blast - didn't you just recently pick up a light spey outfit?

01-16-2006, 09:58 PM

Yes, I did. Snowbee Torridge, with a grain wt of 320 - 350. I've been using Scando heads so far. I have yet to really test it on any decent fish. It's a rockin' overhead rod, too.

It should be perfect for shad. I've also found a lot of simple "Shad Dart" patterns--mainly short maribou tail, mylar or tinsel wrap, bead eyes, and red/pink/purple/chart chenille head. #6 or so salwater hooks.

Apparently smallies and largies are also possible quarry, too.

01-17-2006, 06:28 AM
i've done a little bit of shad fishing. i agree with juro as to technique. however i read an article a couple of weeks ago in florida sporsman i believe which presented a radically different approach that the author claimed he had success with. in essence he drifts "dry" woolly buggers (small-6 or 8) in bright colors. the drifting process that he described was much like that which we do when salmon fishing. as i said he claimed it was great. i think the article is worth reading if you can find it.

01-17-2006, 07:05 AM
Hey Neal -

Can't wait to hear about those crazy peacock bass you caught! :Eyecrazy:

01-23-2006, 08:42 AM
As you can probably tell by my screen name I love to fish for Shad. I agree with every Juro said and will add a few things.

Present the fly at the fishes level
Only fish moving water, no matter how many fish you see in the pools you'll catch more if you work the runs.
Look for seams and other breaks that can aide the Shad traveling up river.
The closer the fish are to spawning the smaller the fly that you should be using. I'll fish as small as size 10 at the end or the season.
Simple flys work best, most of my Shad flys are made with chain bead eyes a bit of flash for the tail and depth-ray wool body.

Finally Shad are delicate fish that don't deal with very well stress. They have fixed gill plates and need to swim to breathe or at least face into the current. A released fish that lies on the bottom in flat water is going to die. Please use the heaviest tippet that you reasonably can, play them quickly and release them as soon as possible.

Good luck

01-28-2006, 02:08 PM
I am a new member to this forum. Got interested after fishing stripes at the Cape last year with DK (Rooster). Will be back this year for 3+ weeks again. Will also be at the clave.

I fish for shad in the American, Yuba and Feather here in N. Calif. The question on flies has come up and what to use. Do a web seach for "little pinky" by Dave Howard and thats all you need. Great fly and always does the job. If you cannot find the fly on your seach, let me know and I will attempt to direct you.

01-28-2006, 02:26 PM
Oops...my first goof on this board. If you want to see the shad fly and how it's tied go to anglersvice.com and search for "wet pinky" not little pinky.

01-28-2006, 05:25 PM
Thanks! I'll check it out.

How about shad in estuaries before they head upstream--any point in attempting targeting them?