Columbia River shad

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
The recent New Yorker Magazine article and the recent Bonneville counts have me wondering if there's a shad fishing scene in the Columbia. Can you fly cast from shore anywhere for a shad diversion?
It's probably starting to get a little late for shad. I'm sure it's still good right now, but we might be past the peak, and if you want to go, you should hurry. I've never been able to figure out if and where there's any good flyfishing from the shore down on the Columbia, and where the fishing is the hottest, right below Bonneville, is BIG FREAKING WATER! Not for little boats, inexperienced boaters, or the faint of heart. (No joke; people drown.)

I have always wondered about the quiet water in that big bay thing at Camas (pretty stinky), but I know there's shad fishing in the Willamette and the Clackamas which should be available to wading and small boat anglers (I'm not sure when the peak of the run is in those streams).

Here's a way to go on the big river: book a sturgeon trip. I'm not kidding. I haven't done it in a few years, but that's some of the most fun I've ever had with a fishing rod in my hand. Sure, it's essentially plunking with dead bait, but those sumbucks go upwards of 4 bills! And can take an hour to land! Don't be so damed snooty and put your back into it (jeez, if we can fish for carp...).

And here's the kicker. Most of the guides bring light tackle along to spend the last couple hours letting their sports catch some shad. The sports get to hook and land a dozen or so hard fighting shad (gullible too, reportedly), and the guide gets fresh sturgeon bait for free. Most of these guys are live and let live types, and if you wanted to bring your flyrod on board to do your end of the day "bait" fishing, I'm sure most wouldn't object, as long as you promised not to hook him with the fool thing.

Sturgeon trips are a good deal too. They run $250-$350 a day or so (depending on amenities and what not), but most of these chaps are running big sleds, and will take up to 4 anglers. Get three of your friends together and all of a sudden it's not too bad. Plus you'll have people along to confirm your seamonster stories.
hey the shad is just starting to get good, plenty of room around bonneville for them, going this weekend with a buddy who has fished it alot, will reply on how to catch them from the bank with a fly rod. see ya on the water

my buddy says use one rod and plunk for sturgeon and fish for shad with the other, best time of year for both, its a mixed fishery as far as I know.
if fishing for sturgeon and casting a fly rod for shad is a crime at the same time, ok I'll reel in my sturgeon line everytime I feel the need to cast for shad so you will need not to worry about me but yourself :TSKTSK