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· Driven by irrational exuberance.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I didn't know what I was doing, but I chased shad around Saturday up by The Dalles. I figured that with over 100,000 going over The Dalles for the last few days, even a blind pig could find an acorn. But I got on the river pretty late and it was a bright warm day, which is supposed not to good for the bite. I tried casting under the Dalles Bridge on the Oregon side but there are a lot of obstacles there this year. The hoop net platforms are tied off with plastic coated cable to the bridge and the bank, eliminating some of the good casting slots and turning others into showcases of casting prowess. I didn't get any hits, but the super sinking shooting head was working well for distance in the wind and getting the fly down.

I gave up on shad and went over to my smallmouth and carp pond. Like Ben was saying in his post, I felt overly armed for smallmouth with the 8 wt. steelhead rod. But the water was too high. I think cold river water had flushed through the pond and the smallies were all shivering in their beds. The carp flats were buried in deep water and if any were tailing I couldn't see them down there. But then I got real lucky. While edging along the shoreline on the road fill, I rolled over a big basalt bolder and it chopped my fly line right off about forty feet from the end as it bounced into the pond. I say lucky, in the sense that it didn't chop my toe off or crush my rod. Lucky in that I didn't have to cut off my pinned arm with my swiss army knife. I tied a quick knot in the fly line and fished out the rest of the shoreline, but I couldn't cast the knot out past the second guide.

I suppose this is how I'd repair that line, maybe using acetone to get the core off and kevlar tread instead of dental floss. http://www.speypages.com/custom_lines.htm
 

· Mother Nature's Son
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1,344 Posts
I've not fished for them above Bonneville dam but could offer some advice. As you mentioned, you fished late in the day on a sunny day for them and this does not bode well for success. Shad are most actively biting early in the morning but will continue to bite through the afternoon if it is cloudy.

The next critical piece is finding places in the river's current that would push fish close to the bank. Long, slow stretches of water will disperse the fish, making them harder to catch. If it were me, I'd fish below the Dalles dam if possible as the fish will be stacking up there prior to running up the ladder.

Shad will vary their depth throughout the day and so you have to make sure that you're not above or below them. They are most often deeper than shallower though. Most of the Shad caught on flies are in water that is 6-12 feet deep. Also remember that even a heavy head does not go as deep as you would think when thrown in fast water. You'll probably need to throw upstream to allow your fly and line to sink deep enough before the swing.

The other critical piece is that Shad often bite on the dangle. Leave your offering for 20-30 seconds before retrieving.

The last piece is that Shad are color sensitive. One color may work one moment and turn off the next. The red shad dart in the article is usually a good starting point, but don't hesitate to try the other colors suggested if you're positive you've met the criteria listed in the above paragraphs.

Once you hook one or two, your confidence will go up and then you'll have a hard time keeping the little guys off of your hook!

Best of luck,
Skinny
 

· Driven by irrational exuberance.
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1,584 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The south side on the bridge is close enough to the dam that there is a strong current and standing waves through the channel close to shore there.

What I don't understand is now there is about 135000 more shad over The Dalles Dam than Bonneville. Do they sneak by the counters at Bonneville?
 

· Mother Nature's Son
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One theory that I've heard that makes some sense is that some population of fish that go through the locks when they are open. Interestingly, a few fish crossed The Dalles dam before any were counted at Bonneville and this would seem to explain that.

You want to fish just inside (bankside) of the main current. It's kind of like trout fishing in that the fish are in line with that current seam.

Let me know how you do,
Skinny
 

· Driven by irrational exuberance.
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1,584 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Monday morning, June 9, I tried again up by The Dalles. I had the day off, while the new wife had to go to the dentist. I tried not to be too gleeful.

I wasted the very early morning hours on a look at the Washington side after a long bumpy ride in from Dallesport. It didn't look like a good setup close to strong current. It would work if you could fish on the south side of the locks entrance, but COE doesn't let just anyone in there.

I went back to the south side of the Dalles bridge. After several days of 100 degrees and no wind, this morning was going to be cooler and windy. I was freezing my petunias off in my shorts and soggy shoes. What was I thinking? Why were my waders back in the truck? I had made a striping basket out of a little plastic shoe box, and it had been working well, but the wind was picking up and blowing my amnesia running line out of basket. The running line was getting tangled in a cute little bonsai composition in a crack in the rocks. Cute except that it was poison oak! The wind kept increasing to about 25 and was blowing spray up on the rocks. Some times the wind would plaster my back cast into the brush and I'd lose another fly. It was hard to keep my confidence up for two hours without a touch since I had two unknowns: location and color. I didn't know if I was in the right spots and I didn't know what they were biting. The amnesia was tangled in the poison oak again, and by the time I got it untangled, I was stuck on the bottom. I was was pissed off thinking "That's it, I'm going to McDonalds!" But when I tried to shake the fly lose from the bottom, it shook back. And there was a big silver flash down in the water at the end of my line. A big slashing creature of the sea. I was thinking I didn't realize they were so big. She popped off but I drifted the yellow and white fly through there again and hooked up another. I brought it in, took some pictures, then released it. Then did it again. And again. Once I got the right combination I had seven in about an hour. They were about 20 inches, much bigger than the ones I saw last year through the window at the fish ladders. One was bigger and took the fly on a 50 yard run upstream before popping off.

Two things I changed made all the difference. First was changing to yellow and white. But second was tying on a piece of 8 lb tippet. Earlier I'd just tied the fly on to the end of a steelhead leader. But when I went to yellow, I tied an 8 lb. tippet on the end of what was left of the 12 lb. steelhead tippet. When I reread the articles on shad, I noticed that was what all the authorities recommended. A lighter leader (most articles say 6 lb) is all you need since they have a soft mouth and no teeth, and the lighter leader gives the fly a more alluring float though the currents.

The slot where I had my success had lighter current than I expected from what I had read. There was a slot of current about 20 yards out, but then a band close to shore that was deep but softer than a steelhead slot. My swing was ending downstream of a slight point in water that was almost slack.

I can't wait to do it again. They're like cherries, you can only get them a few weeks out of the year.
 

· Driven by irrational exuberance.
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1,584 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The bite was red today. Is that how John McPhee put it? Red/red, not red/white. What goes on in those tiny fish brains?

Yesterday I never did get the color.
 
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