Monday, April 9, 2012

Poor Man's Tarpon

The past few years, I have left a particular season unfished. It seems every Spring, I have other things on my plate and either forget to fish it, or I miss the run. Thia particular season is the shad run on the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River. I have heard a lot of things about the number of shad entering the bay and running the tributaries to spawn, so I was pumped to try it out.

The run up the bay arrived early this year, thanks to a week in March where temperatures hovered in the seventies and even in the eighties. From there, the temperatures dropped back to regular spring time highs. This fluctuation has confused the fish and the anglers. Rather than running up the creek, the fish have staged at the mouth and in the bay awaiting for the right time. Of course, more are on the way.

I arrived slightly before noon on a cold, windy, and overcast day at the mouth of a popular creek. I took my place on a bridge and watched other anglers and their tactics for a good hour. After a few minutes, I saw a carp and then another one. The carp would come out of the river and feed in the deep mouth of the creek. Untouchable for a fly angler, I merely stood and salivated from the mouth like one of Pavlov's dogs. They were tanks. I suppressed my urge to fish for the carp and found a pod of shad a hundred yards up the stream.

The first half hour was a guessing game as I tried different types of presentations and speeds. I settled on a down and across cast with a deep belly in the line to send my flies across the water column. This produced hits on almost every cast. I caught my first shad or the "poor man's tarpon" and marveled at the fight they can generate from their tiny frames. I had a good hour of action and moved on to check out another spot. I'll be back, but I think I am going after those carp instead.


Mark Kautz said...

Pink is good for Shad. We use a 1/16 or 1/32 oz jighead in pink and a
1 - 1 1/2 inch pink curly tail in an across and swing back motion. Most hits come at the bottom of the swing or just as you start to retrieve. If you need a better picture of the jig, drop me a line at and I'll forward you a picture.


Gregg said...

Nice! Always wanted to experience shad. Our nearest are 350 miles away, and more. Carp though, even I have them.