Umpqua Shad

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by GAT, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Welllllllllllll.... I'm converting my Umpqua shad program from slides to DVD so as I've done in the past, I'm dropping some of the photos from the program in this thread.

    For many years, me and the guys fished the Umpqua during the shad run. We've never fished anywhere esle for the critters so I don't know if they go crazy as they do on the Umpqua. They are a blast with fly gear. I called the program Shad 0 Rama because they are such a ball. They take off like they were shot out of a canon and go nuts jumping.

    The Umpqua is a large river where we fish for the shad so they have plenty of room to fight... and they do!

    Here's some shots from the program:

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    As with the other Anadromous species in Oregon, the shad swim upstream to spawn, starting in May.

    They make their move as the water temps rise.

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    And they come in by the thousands and thousands:

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    For this:

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    If you've never been to the main Umpqua... here's the location... but I won't tell you the exact spot where we fish... it's a secret :)

    17.jpg

    Now... the shad on the Umpqua, as I said, put up a hell of a fight.

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    END PART 1
     
  2. Alosa

    Alosa Active Member

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    You've made me a very happy man GAT.
     
  3. Kenneth Yong

    Kenneth Yong Member

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    Very, very nice, Gene! I look forward to part 2.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Kenneth
     
  4. Eric B

    Eric B Montana hillbilly

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    Man, I just drove over the Umpqua today, working at a cell site in Roseburg right off of I-5. Nice pics!

    What time of year did you fish the river? How far up from the mouth? PM me if you want. If I have to go back down there next week I might bring my bag of tricks ( this time of year maybe not so much for shad, but there should be some salmon or steelhead in the river). I love that area, but haven't fished it much.
     
  5. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    I'll post the rest of the photos this eve.

    Eric, normally, the shad run starts in May and continues through the 4th of July. We primarily fish between the mouth and Tyee Bridge -- which is a LOT of water. Folks use boats in the lower section of the river but as you follow the road upstream, you'll find a lot of spots to fish from the bank. The only problem we encounter as far as using fly gear is river level. We've found that the level must drop to 4 feet at Elkton. Any taller than that and we have a tough time.

    The key to catching the shad on the Umpqua is sinking the fly to their depth and that requires the use of heavy equipment and very fast sinking lines. We use short, heavy shooting heads and sometimes need to add split shot to the heads.

    Sooooo...... if the level is high, our chances drop significantly. We watch the river level gage at Elkton very carefully starting in May.
     
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  6. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    PART 2 (last)

    If you look closely, you see a reoccurring pattern. This is because there are only a few patterns we use. The most effective pattern we've found yet is what I call A Typical Shad Dart... I thought Rock created it and he thought I came up with it but it doesn't matter... it works danged well.

    You can tie it with bead-chain or dumbbell eyes. Sometimes the bead-chain eye patterns work better than the dumbbell... I don't know why. So I suggest you tie them in both variations.

    Notice the fly:

    39.jpg

    It is a one of the two red and white patterns we use. I prefer this one:

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    Normally, I use two patterns and always have The Typical Shad Dart as one of the patterns. Here's some others that are effective:

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    One year, this little guy was a hit:

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    But from time to time, these also work:

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    You can lip the shad as you do bass.

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    But I've found the critters easier to handle when you use a net:

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    (no that one isn't a Cabela's ad... or wasn't supposed to be anyway)

    The largest are the females. This one was a beauty!

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    I have a lot more photos but you get the idea.
     
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  7. fish-on

    fish-on Waters haunt me....

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    GAT,

    Really cool. Probably one of the most consistent fish when it comes to bites and one of the best species to take a new guy to learn how to fish. They are definitely not pushovers, put a deep bend on your rod, occassionally jumps and significantly fight hard too. I love em on 6 or 7 wt. Where I fish for them in the Columbia requires a boat but often times it becomes a hassle. I would love to just wade and start fishing..

    Tight lines,

    John
     
  8. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Fished them on the Sacramento in the early 80's...they are indeed fun. Been meaning to try he Columbia but just schedules just haven't worked out. Great pictures!
     
  9. Eric B

    Eric B Montana hillbilly

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    Thanks for the info. I hope to get some work down there during the right time of the year. It seems like work & fishing are often on different planes for me:)
    If it works out I will let you know if I head that way. Thanks again.
     
  10. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

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    Back east I caught Shad in the rivers and bays on Long Island Sound and the Hudson estuary for many years. I once caught one in the Beaverkill River, near Roscoe NY. Which is a pretty long swim for a shad coming up the Delaware river. One favorite spot for shad fishing was the pool in the Delaware river, near Lakawaxen, PA, and the Zane Gray Homestead there. No doubt he would have fished for them too back when. Recently I have been hearing about sightings of American Shad in Puget Sound waters. One biologist friend is certain he has seen them near the Marrowstone Island area. Of course this is nothing like the established runs that you are showing here. And I doubt that they will ever get that thick here. But wouldn't that be fun. The late Catskill fly tier and guide Floyd Franke created some good "Shad darts" for this fishing back there too. I believe that these west coast Shad are originally from fish transplanted from the Hudson River many years ago. As were the Striped Bass. (See Nick Karas book "The Striped Bass.") http://olympicpeninsulaflyfishing.blogspot.com
     
  11. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Yes, the shad were carried by train in barrels from the East and dumped in the Sacramento River. They since migrated up the coast and ended up in the warmer rivers... such as The Umpqua.

    Fortunately, unlike some introduced species, they don't seem to have a negative effect on the native fish.
     
  12. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    I forgot. One of the most cool things about fishing for the shad on the Umpqua is the fact that you can "gang fish". Once we found their lane, we could line up with four or five guys and all fish together. As the shad would come by us in waves, the guy furthest downstream would hook a shad, then the next guy, then the next guy and finally the guy at the head of the line. We'd have four or five fish on at the same time.

    Because all the shad went nuts, it was Keystone Cops trying to keep from tangling up with the other guys. There was ducking below rods, passing rods over the heads of other guys and general chaos. It was an absolute blast and one of the few fisheries in Oregon where we could experience such a fun time with everyone trying to land their shad while keeping out of the way of the other guys.

    Plus, when you got tired, and you would, you could always give up on the line and head back to the bedrock shore, drink a beer and watch the other guys. The shad typically move at night but we found that they'd also move upstream during the entire day, regardless of the cloud cover. Sometimes it may be an hour before the next wave came in but when it did, it was a laughing pandemonium.

    A very unique fly fishing fishery.

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  13. Skysoldier

    Skysoldier Trout Hunter

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    Awesome Gat! Looks like a great time.....I need to make it down there and give it a try.
     
  14. James Waggoner

    James Waggoner Active Member

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    Looks like you're at two different spots, both I know very well...don't worry I won't say as they both get a lot of local pressure, local is anyone within 75 miles. From cottage grove (52 miles) I've fished that fishery over a hundred times and have never caught shad as consistent anywhere else...now living in Vancouver the Columbia can't compare. Haven't fished it in sometime I'm re inspired thanks!

    Probably already know this but That lower run is also a pretty good winter steelhead run for swinging flys when the river is at the right level fished from the north side.

    James Waggoner
     
  15. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    James, actually, we're in three different spots. If you're aware of the lower one, you are one of the few who are. It is not a typical spot most folks fish for shad. We've never seen anyone else ever fish that run and speaking of steelhead... this is how we found it.

    Long story (of course):

    Over 25 years ago, John, Rocky and I were supposed to go shad fishing on the Umpqua.

    How we heard about the fly fishing for shad on the Ump is another long story and had to do with friends of John Shewey. Anyway, we heard about it and decided to give it a try.

    Unfortunately, we had no idea where to fish. Rocky was the research guy for this one and had called the ODF&W fish biologist for the river. The bio told Rocky to fish anywhere between Tyee and the mouth. That seemed kind'a vague. Rock asked him what patterns to use and the guy told him to use a subsurface pattern in the color of green. That seemed kind'a vague.

    Rocky was interested in the trip because he fished for shad on the Columbia with his Dad when he was growing up in Portland so he was the instigator. They used spinning gear and shad darts. To prepare for the trip, we set about tying flies in green. Rocky said we should probably tie some flies in red and white because that's the color of the shad darts they used on the Columbia. That's how we came up with The Typical Shad Dart.

    Someone, somewhere along the way mentioned the patterns should include bead-chain eyes so we tied the flies in that manner.

    The day of the big adventure, Rocky couldn't make it. Great. He was our shad expert. John and I decided to head down to the Umpqua to see what we could see just the same.

    So, not knowing what the hell we were doing, wet set off with six weight systems with sink-tip lines.

    We followed a map and made snap decisions. At one point, we had to pee so we pulled off and did so. During the stop, we looked at the river and spotted a run that looked like it would be great for steelhead. As we didn't know what the hell we we doing, we decided that was as good a place to start as any.

    We tried the green patterns and they didn't work. (we later found that the bio didn't know what he was talking about. Chartreuse was the color we should have used, not green .. chartreuse does work) So we tied on the red and white flies.

    We started catching shad. A lot of shad. A ton of shad. Problem was, we were seriously out-gunned with our six weights. It took a long time to land each shad we hooked. It started raining. It didn't matter. John didn't bring his coat to the river and was soaked. But we couldn't stop. We were addicted. We were also beat.

    As the day wore on, the battles took their toll. We were exhausted. We had no idea the shad would put up such a fight. We eventually had to quit.

    We never tried a different spot. We didn't need to.

    So, we found the spot purely by chance and fished it for decades. Sometimes there was nothing there so we did find additional places to fish upstream.

    That was just the beginning. Each trip thereafter, we learned more about the fishery. The first thing we learned was to use larger rods. These days, we use 9-10 weight rods.

    We also found that depth is critical so we use shooting heads and gave up on the sink-tips.

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    I cover this in the program but there is specific areas in a run where you will hook the shad. If you look closely at a run you will find a window of calm water. If the shad are moving through in huge numbers, it doesn't matter but at other times, you need to target that window. When you find it, you can predict a strike. I became very good at predicting my strikes. You must cast across and let the pattern swing into the window and time it so the pattern starts to rise about the time it reaches the window.

    Here's an example of "the window":


    Target spot.jpg



    I could sense when I made the perfect presentation and would tell the guys when I was going to hook up. I would and it would piss them off. So they'd make me move. We learned to rotate if the shad were hitting the patterns only in the window area. However, like I said, when the shad are moving through the spot, you can hook them just about anywhere as long as you are presenting the pattern at the correct depth.

    If we weren't getting bit, instead of changing patterns, we learned to add split shot.
    The use of two flies at a time is the best approach.

    You may or may not know where we were fishing at the lower spot. We found it purely by luck. It is not a common place you'd think to fish for shad and sometimes, it is void of shad. So it is best to locate a number of different spots. The spin guys crowd up at the popular places so they are hard to miss. We avoid those areas as much as we can.
     
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