First and foremost - a happy birthday to my sainted mother Lorraine Wallace. Secondly - the shad run is on big time.
With water temps in the mid 50s (and CLIMBING!!!!) expect things to only get better down at Fletcher's Cove, as the presence of American Shad and Snakeheads will start becoming more visibly felt with the passing of the calendar.
As for this past weekend - fishing was slower on Friday, luke warm on Saturday, and on fire on Sunday. This was a weekend of many firsts for Matt Devaney, Pat McLeod, and Dennis Feliciano as they all caught their first hickories this weekend.
All shad (hickories exclusively) were taken just south of the boathouse (but north of Three Sisters). Allowing the fly to sink around 10-13 feet in the water column and stripping it back once the line cleared behind the boat was key. Once the fly got deep, making short, choppy strips back to the boat made the difference when the fish were in thick. However, when action slowed down - slow steady strips also produced their share of hits.
For my shad rig, I like to throw two flies (Rem's Kindergarten Special and Rem's Brown Noser) in variations of pink and green. I prefer using a short section of 3x tippet (1-3 feet) to attach the first fly and an additional foot or two for the second fly instead of a conventional leader because it provokes shad that short strike your fly. You'll notice in the pics on the right that I use barbless circle hooks for my shad flies. I do this for a few reasons:
A) Care for the Fish: Plain and simple, they're easier on the fish. Plus you don't have to worry about snagging gizzard shad and perfect hook sets are usually in the corner of the mouth.
B) Safer: When in close proximity to other boats or fishing with two anglers in the boat - these flies make it impossible to snag yourself or someone else. (FYI proper etiquette is not anchoring your boat 5-15 feet in front of someone - this happened to my twice this weekend. Rather than being a complete Rick, try and stay about 45-50 feet away from other boats if you can. I know the currents make it tricky and there are a ton of people out there, but don't be a complete Rick. I'm all about sharing the water - as evidenced in last week's word hatch - but it's a completely different story when someone is anchored up and you decide to post up within spitting distance. Above all else, stay fly, right?)
C) Keep your flies: Similar to it being difficult to snag people or undesirable fishes, it takes some serious misfortune for one of these flies to snag on the bottom. After losing 15 or so flies in my first 4 trips, I've lost 3.
Try circle hook streamers for yourself. You won't be disappointed. The fish gods may even thank you for it.
Remick Smothers is a native son of the District of Columbia and the founder of FlyTimesDC.