Shad Trip to Fletchers Cove

By Dan Neuland

The PVFF Shad Trip to Fletcher’s Cove on the lower Potomac River was attended by Dan Neuland, Mark Richardson and Sam Edland on Sunday, April 14th. The shad were biting despite the heavy rain that raised the water level and made the water semi-murky. The loss of clarity did impact the numbers of fish caught by fly anglers but seemed to have less effect on the spin anglers casting lures. The sky was overcast and misty rain fell throughout the morning.

Dan Neuland with a Potomac River Shad.

We fished from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM, Mark in his canoe, Sam in a kayak and I was using my twin hull kayak. I was using a jig tied with Bright Green Estaz and a White Marabou Tail. My rod was a 7-weight with a 350-grain sinking line. Besides a number of Hickory Shad, I was able to land two American Shad, my first this year. I hooked a monster shad that unfortunately broke the tippet during the battle, the only time I had a shad actually break 8-pound Maxima tippet!  That fish, an American Shad, looked to be about 5 lbs!  It reminded me how important it is to retie leaders from time to time after casting heavy flies.

The current was stronger than on a previous trip the weekend before due to the rise in water level and we worked harder to hook fish. We found keeping the watercraft in the eddy produced by the rocky point downstream from Fletcher’s while casting into the current was the most productive. I hooked three Shad trolling my fly as I paddled upriver that morning while most of my fish were hooked deep in the run while stripping a fly.

The American Shad lay deeper in the run than the Hickory Shad.  The American Shad are distinguished from the Hickory Shad by their larger size, more of a “football” shaped body and a lower jaw that does not extend well beyond the upper jaw. A Hickory Shad’s lower jaw is noticeably longer that the upper.  The Cormorants were everywhere on the river gulping down Herring.

While stripping flies I inadvertently snagged a Herring three different times. The Shad season continues into May followed by Striper fishing into June.