Shad Fishing 4-17-2010

17 04 2010

I had a hard time deciding if I was going to go fish for bass during the pre-spawn or to hit the James River Shad run of 2010. It was probably the only chance I’d really get to Shad fish so I chose that. It was suggested to me to use the 14th St whitewater take out to launch as it would be easier to get to the fish. Sounds good to me, I headed out at 6:30am.

I couldn’t find the entrance to save my life. I thought I found it on Google Earth however I was looking at the wrong thing. I drove back and forth on 14th Street until I finally noticed the sign for the takeout. By this time I had wasted 15 mins of solid fishing time. I was told that you have to deal with stairs to launch, but it was doable. Wow, these stairs were a bitch…but it was doable. Not sure I want to do that again. I struggled with my 13’6″, 68lb kayak (and gear to boot).

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Finally got all my crap down to the water’s edge and pushed off.

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I began casting no more than 50 yards off shore and started to get nibbles at my shad dart. SWEEET, this is gonna be a good day. I pulled in my first fish of the day and I couldn’t quite tell what it was. It definitely wasn’t a Hickory Shad…could it be an American? Either way, it was no larger than my hand so I threw it back and kept casting. (I figured out later on that these are White Perch and definitely not what I was fishing for)
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About an hour later and 6 or so of these small fish landed, I decided I wanted to catch bigger shad so I moved out to the main channel where there were about 25 boats all within 100 yards of each other, seemingly making 2 parallel lines of boat at the base of the 95 bridge. I’m assuming the Shad were swimming upstream between the lines of boats…anyways, people all around me were pulling in shad left and right. The boat directly behind me pulled in a MONSTER striper. I casted in this located for about an hour…not so much as bite, all the while people around me pulling them in left and right. Another kayak angler pulled up beside me and we chatted for a moment. He wasn’t having any luck either but he was throwing a shad dart with a spoon trailer…hmmm…that looked like a good idea and would certainly increase my chances for a hookup.

I move upstream from the main concentration of boats, above I95 but below the 14th St bridge…right in front of Southern States. I attach a spoon trailer to my dart, hoping for a little more luck. After 5 or 10 minutes of casting I finally get a Shad on. Over the next 2 hours or so, I caught 5 or 6 hickory shad (these may be blueback herring…they all look so similar to me), but it was SLOW for me today. I spoke to several other anglers (both kayak and conventional boat) and there were mixed results, so I wasn’t the only one having a tough day.

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The wind picked up considerably by noon and made it terribly difficult to fish so I headed back in. I’ve never fished the tidal part of the James; with the outgoing tide and wind blowing in my face (both in the opposite direction from where I’m heading), padding back to the launch site was a chore.

Here are all the pictures I took this morning.