Okay it’s spring and that means many West Coast rivers are getting invaded, at this very minute, by big waves of jumbo-sized, fresh from the sea mutant herring…American Shad.
If you’ve never caught these scrappy bad boys, you owe it to yourself to give it a try this year! You won’t find too many 1- to 6-pound fish that fight any better. Here’s a super basic look at how to get in on the fun…
One of the true beauties of shad fishing is the simplicity. Grab a light-action spinning rod (I like 7 footers) and a reel with a smooth drag system and load it up with 4-pound mono. All you really need for shad fishing in the terminal gear department is a few different sizes of shot, some 1/32-ounce jig heads and a few colors of 1- to 2-inch grubs. Keep it simple!
Take a look at my personal shad box and you’ll get the idea…
My all-around favorite shad rig…
From an anchored boat or the bank, the down-and-across swing is the best method:
As your lure drifts, give the rod tip an occasional “pop” just to give the bait a little extra action.
Where to look
Shad aren’t big fans of whitewater, so try fishing below any sort of barrier in the river — dams, rapids and falls. They also really like nice slow flats that are 6-12 feet deep.
Generally, shad fishing is best early and late in the day, but you can also whack ’em pretty good in the afternoon too. For the most action, hit the river in the late afternoon and fish right until dark.