It is finally here! The long awaited Shad Run. The Shad Run rings in the 2013 year most actively, and signals the earliest stage of Spring time fishing for me. This will be the 3rd year I have fished the American Shad spawn run. The American Shad run is a unique opportunity where anglers can show up and know without the shadow of a doubt they are going to put fish in the boat, a lot of fish!
Erin and I woke up at 0500 in the morning in an attempt to beat the crowds and get “the good spot”. In the past, I had always had the best luck catching shad along the East shoreline of the tailrace canal closest to the sign marking the “do not cross” line of what is a protected sanctuary for fish approaching the lock and dam fish lift. Because the peak of the shad run is so popular in the low-country, vying for that “good spot” requires anglers to wake up well in advance of the competition. I am by no means a cold person, and the sub 30 degree weather was not so fun.
Despite waking early, Erin and I were not the first to the ramp… several other anglers had already started to gather. Despite not being “first in line”, we got what would ordinarily have still been a good little piece of bank to sit along. The operators of the Pinopolis Lock and Dam kept the water running steadily pretty much all morning. In the past, I did not really begin to capture fish until the turbines were shot off and the water calmed. Because of this, we spent the first couple hours casting without much luck at all. Eventually, Erin and I decided to try something different, and moved out into the middle of the river channel. We had watched several other boats taking this approach bring in several shad so we basically drifted out into the middle without any particular direction and tossed anchor. On the FIRST CAST Erin tied into a fiesty male (aka Buck) shad. On nearly every subsequent cast she and I were tying into fish. The action was fast paced, possibly the best I have ever had. We caught well over our limit in shad (though we were releasing every fish anyway) and eventually lost count.
The method was simple, as I have illustrated in past reports and articles… we simply tied two pink-in-color 1/8th oz. jigheads with small chartreuse curly tail grubs onto our lines. I am not sure why, but this seems to be the standard color combination used by shad anglers. I have tried nearly every other color pattern and small artificial I can think of, but for whatever reason this seems to work best.
After a long morning battling with the dis-proportionally powerful, acrobatic fish, Erin and I finally left the water with plenty of great video and photographic memories.