Fishing for American Shad in a River

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by Katmaster Jr., Mar 12, 2006.

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  1. Katmaster Jr.

    Katmaster Jr. New Member

    Wilmington, NC
    Fishing for American Shad in a River​

    A little info on American Shad:

    American Shad normally run from about 1-3lb, although on rare occasions they are caught bigger, my personal best for them is 5lb, which was a citation here in North Carolina. American Shad are normally found in saltwater but swim into river's on a "Spawning Run" in the spring, just as many other fish do, like Striped Bass for example. Almost all of the American Shad that swim up into the river to spawn die after the spawning is over. Shad are not found in all rivers across the United States. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have them in our local rivers should be happy to have them and take advantage of the great fishing they provide, and for us Catfisherman, the great bait they provide!

    What Rod and Reel's to use for American Shad:

    Keep it pretty simple; you don't need that much to catch these fish. If you want to have the most fun you can use an ultra light rod and reel, however if using a ultra light don't pull back to hard these shad can sometimes break very small fishing line. I like using something like a decent sized bream rod and reel, or small bass rod and reel. With 12-15lb test line. Line size does matter for these fish, mostly because different size lines makes the lures run differently. I don’t recommend going higher then 15lb, you really don't need anything bigger then that for these. Make sure that if you are fishing off the bank for shad that whatever rod and reel you are using is good at casting smaller weighted lures. That's why I say that a spinning reel works best for Shad fishing; they cast smaller weighted things farther then most bait casters.

    Lures/Rigs for catching American Shad:

    Shad mostly eat little plankton, so you don’t want to use things like minnows or other types of fish and things for them. I use many different small lures for them. My favorite of all is a Sabiki Rig with a small spoon on the bottom of it, where the weight usually go's. Here's the order I put that rig on my line;

    First: Some sort of small weight that slides on the line (Usually I use bullet weights which are most commonly used for Carolina rig bass fishing with plastic worms).

    Second: I tie the top part of the Sabiki Rig on, there should be a swivel on the top.

    Third(last): I tie a small spoon on the bottom end of the Sabiki Rig.

    There are also a few other rigs that can be used. You can just Carolina rig a small spoon without a Sabiki Rig; you can just use small jigs. But the best seems to be the Sabiki with the spoon on the end, I have recently discovered how great that rig works and it has out fished every other rig every single time so far.

    How to use the lures, and techniques to use:

    There are not really many different ways to fish for Shad, they are a very simple fish. They pretty much strike at anything that has some flash to it. When on the bank the only thing you can really do is cast out and reel in, each day changes, meaning that some days you may catch more reeling faster then other days. Normally I just reel at a medium speed, which on most days seems to work the best overall. It usually helps if the sun is shining bright, due to the fact that these shad are striking your lure strictly off of sight. The more sun, the better the shad can see your lure. Especially when using silver or gold spoons, the sun will really reflect off of them. When it's sunny I like to use a gold spoon, and when it's overcast I like to use a silver spoon, I don't think it makes a huge difference though. When the shad hit don't do a hard hook set just left your fishing rod and they should basically hook themselves. Trying to set the hook usually just pulls the hook out of the shad’s mouth.

    If you are fortunate enough to own a boat or just be fishing in a boat, then you can troll the lures. This is by far my favorite and most successful technique. My dad and I just use out little 12 foot Jon boat and our trolling motor. We troll up and down the river and tear them up. When doing this you want to get your lures a good distance behind the boat, which seems to draw more strikes, and makes the lures run at a better depth for the shad. When trolling and you get a strike it is basically the same thing as throwing spoons off the bank, there is no reason to attempt to set the hook, that would do nothing but pull the hook out of the shads mouth most of the time. Just hold on to your pole and they should basically hook themselves. You are often going to get many strikes from shad that you don't catch the fish off of, but that is just a part of it. There's nothing you can do about that.

    American Shad for Catfish bait:

    These American Shad make excellent bait for big catfish of all kinds; I just cut them up as I would any other baitfish. Either in chunk's, or fillets, they normally are too bit to use for live bait. Notice I said normally, not always. This is the main reason I catch them, is for catfish bait. But also they are just fun to catch anyway.

    Eating shad:

    Yes you can eat shad, a lot of people like to eat them. I personally don't like their taste very much. I think most people like to eat their "Roe". I really do not know much about cleaning them or eating them, but if you are interested then there are many recipes that can be found for them on the Internet, I suggest maybe using google.

    Shad are really fun fish, especially for kids or beginner fisherman. I recommend anyone that has them in their area that has not tried to catch them to get out there this Spring and start having a great time and seeing what you've been missing out on.

    Good luck! Have fun, and most of all be safe!
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