Shad run on the Columbia River 6/8/2018

Hey, Nick... Just wanted to make sure everyone noted my emoticons in my poking a little fun at the use of gear and scent, as I sure don't look down on gear fishermen. It just struck me as kind of funny to have a gear guy posting on a fly fishing forum; but I don't have any problems with that at all. I often say that a good gear fisherman will outfish a good fly fisherman 10 to 1 on average (but not always), whether we're talking about shad, trout, bass, walleye, salmon or steelhead, as gear in the right hands is so much more effective, especially when used with bait or scent. Apologies to @veilside180sx if you were offended by my comments.
No apology skin is thick.

When in Rome...I typically leave bug sticks at home if I’m fishing with just gear guys on the boat. it or not you’ll get some on your fly...whether intentional or otherwise. Only way to avoid to just not catch anything...especially with stinky shad.


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Bonneville is a terrible place to try to fly fish. John Day, however, is a different story.
I have done well in the past using flies at bonneville. We just went downstream of the horde of other fishermen, found a spot with something of a seam, and caught fish. There is a lot of bank, and the fish have got to swim up all of it!

The T.O. Show

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T.O. We'd love a report..
It went pretty well for my first go at it I think. I caught a handful of them. I had some trouble hitting the seams in the wind, and most of the good spots already had about three guys in each of them. But I found my piece of water and got some hookups. The takes felt super soft, but once the fish realized they were hooked they actually pulled pretty hard. They were stronger than I was expecting. It was a good time, I would definitely go do it again. I eventually drove a ways downriver to get away from the crowds and picked up a bonus bass fishing off of some rock shelves.

They were stronger than I was expecting.
A few things I've learned over the years targeting these things: They're strong and fast as hell, but that does diminish the further upstream you fish them. From Bonneville on down and in the Willamette, they have a considerable amount more in the tank. It's also multiplied if you're in a boat and they can dive down on you. They seem to really like that move, and they can't do that when you're pulling them up on the bank.

Also, I think why this "gear vs fly" thing really took off in here is because the last place you'd expect to run in to textbook fly guy snobbery is in a thread about shad of all things. If there's a fishery where it should be "anything goes!" It would be shad.
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Our "other" kid who lived with us for 3 years was in town with his 6yo son so I took them up to the dam today. We caught a couple dozen, mostly on flies and LDR'ed at least as many. Didn't have much time to prep but Shane did great using an intermediate line on a 7wt. Apparently fly fishing at home in Nevada prepared him well for the CR Gorge wind. 20180618_172124.jpg 20180618_172911.jpg 20180618_161123.jpg
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I’ve caught them in a salt pond years ago on the Rhode Island coast. They fought well.

We released the ones we caught. I’m curious if they’re edible and how you’d prepare them.
50 years ago there was a small meat locker/butcher/cannery in NE Portland that we took our shad in to; they’d smoke and can them which removes the bones, of which they are full of. Delicious. Roe is good also.


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Couple notes from yesterday for anyone headed up to Bonnie. For starters, I'd definitely try to fish it during the week, and get there early. We were well downstream from the dam and managed to find a spot with plenty of room around 10AM. By noon we had a few folks fairly close but not rubbing elbows. A couple that came down from Seattle watched for a while and ended up fishing next to us. After seeing us land several on flies he said he regretted not bringing his fly rod. He didn't look too disappointed though since he was catching them like crazy on light spin gear.

Previous notes about swinging are dead on. Most of the takes came between 45 degrees downstream to the hangdown. Often surprisingly close to the bank. I was hucking a 300 grain head on my 10wt which worked well for getting down and punching through the wind. Even with the 10wt, the large female shad still put up a respectable fight in the heavy current, so I didn't really feel over-gunned.

Shane was using a 7wt I had rigged with a type I intermediate. Less than the ideal rig for this fishery but he was keeping up with me numbers wise, so I suspect the fish can be pretty shallow. Almost all our fish were on a simple chartreuse crazy charlie thing I whipped up yesterday morning (tie a bunch of whatever you use). Fishing was good for us the first few hours then slowed down a bit after 1PM, but the gear fishers were still hooking up regularly. We got a few more after switching to a weighted pattern in orange so it seems like they went deeper in the afternoon, and/or changed color preference.

As far as selecting a spot, anywhere there is strong current within casting range of the bank should produce. At the spot we fished, the main current splits away from the bank with a well defined seam. No surprise, the fish were stacking in the seam. Especially right behind a large, fly-eating rock near the head of the seam.

Oh yeah, one more thing. CHECK YOUR FLY REGULARLY. I had a dry spell that lasted over an hour, missing a number of takes. Checked the fly and found the point had broken off, probably on a backcast.
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we have a huge run of shad on the American River here in Sacramento, and we swing for them regularly with 5-6wt spey and switch rods. we use a fly called the Bloody Maria with lots of success.

i swung up about 30 grabs the other night in the last hour of daylight, including 5 casts in a row.

at dusk, you can also get them on top using caddis emerger patterns (stoplight caddis being a favorite). you'll also get into some hatch brat steelhead at the same time, which is nice.

Jeff Ching, the guy who "invented" that fly for the American River, has caught over 1400 shad so far this year in our run (or so he claims). he fishes all day every day, but still, that's a staggering number.


I find it interesting that I've done better with a shad fly tied with bead chain eyes than dumbbell eyes. I'm not exactly sure why this is and the tendency may be limited to the Umpqua in Oregon.


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I find it interesting that I've done better with a shad fly tied with bead chain eyes than dumbbell eyes. I'm not exactly sure why this is and the tendency may be limited to the Umpqua in Oregon.
My guess is depth. Pretty sure I have a habit of fishing too deep for these things.

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