Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And So It Begins...

I watch the water temps like my 3 year old watches Curious George, with pure delight.  Staring at the graph of steady upper 40's to lower 50's translates to actively feeding togs swimming in the deep of my mind.  The time is now and I know it.  Only thing is, my calendar is consumed by work.  As reports start to trickle in, the shackles of my office feel heavy while my tog rod gently weeps.

With the year's maiden paddle to the first island of the CBBT finally scheduled for Saturday, weekend just couldn't come soon enough.  The promise of hungry togs and hard thumping drag pulls came to fruition using fiddler crabs for bait.  The morning was beautiful with light winds and I met with Josh Williams of MKF out on the prime kayak-toggin waters.  I kept telling him how much "I love this ---" every time I set the hook.

19" Tautog

Football fat 20.5"er

All fish were released
The wind picked up dramatically around mid-day and made things very challenging.  But I stayed persistent and ended the day with a dozen fish ranging from 15" to 20.5".  Clocking 10 physically demanding hours on the water seems to go by so much faster and maybe even easier than 10 hours in the office chair.  Although I admit, I'm a little sore since I remained relatively stagnant throughout the winter.

But that didn't keep me from spending a couple of hours on the river the following day.  I knew I wouldn't have any time during the week to get out on the water, so after some quality family time on Sunday, I got out for a little shad fishing.

I ended with about 15 or so hickory shad in the 2.5 hours.

Spring is here, and so it beings...
Good times.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pics and Links from Shad Seminar

Here are a few pictures, links and tips from the Shad Fishing the James River seminar I presented at Appomattox River Company (3/6/12)

There's a saying... when the dogwoods are blooming in Richmond, it's time to go shad fishing.  Usually mid-March to early May with primetime usually being mid-April, shad fishing can be a blast on ultra light or fly tackle.  Shad spoons a foot or so behind a swivel and 1/4 ounce egg sinker can be effective, as well as shad darts, too.  But my personal preference is to use a 6wt. flyrod with 250 grain sinking tip flyline and various shad flies.  

Hickory shad will be there in huge numbers, but included in the mix are a few species that you can not keep to take home or use for bait.  

Source: Google Images

It is illegal to have American Shad in your possession.  The way to tell the difference is see if the fish has an underbite.  

Source:  Google Images
Hickory shad (ok to keep) have a large underbite that sticks way out past their upper lip.  American shad have lower jaws that tuck neatly into their upper lip.  

Blueback herring and Alewives look a lot like American shad, just smaller and their jaw tucks into their upper lip too.  It is now illegal to have either Blueback Herring or Alewives in your possession as well.  

The James River is tidal up to the fall line (14th street bridge).  The water will flow one way near Richmond, but the water will rise and fall with the tide.  My preference is for the incoming tide, but when the fish are thick, it doesn't seem to matter.  Here is the tide chart for the James River near Richmond.  James River Tides (at Richmond)

More important than the tide is the amount of water flowing.  If the cubic feet of discharge per second gets above 10,000 it becomes very difficult to get the lure or fly down to the required depth.   I usually don't bother going if it's above 12,000 cubic feet per second.  

Here is the link for James River Discharge Flow

and another for the river level predictions

Anncarrow's Landing is the main boat launch area.  Link.

There is also a canoe and kayak launch right off 14th Street, on the north side of the river, immediately south of the flood wall.  It's a small area, with big steps to get to the water. 

My buddy Josh Dolin put together this nice video with some of his tips.