Plenty of Water and Current…

I have spent the last two Mondays on the water at CS Lee and can say without a doubt, there is plenty of water and current… now we just need the fish to show up! Last Monday Todd and I hit the water with high hopes of catching fish. After catching three shad on a half day outing the week prior and with a nice 5 inch bump in water since our last visit, we figured we had a decent chance. Unfortunately we were wrong.

The bump in water brought the gauge height above 2.5 feet, bringing the water up just enough to distribute the mosquitofish back in to the grassy pasture, and out of the river’s feeding frenzy. Paired with a looming front moving through, this meant we swung a lot of flies for a few bi-catch, and no shad. We worked all of the normal suspects, creek mouths, east and west bank at the Econ, using T3 and then T8 Tips to cover the water column and found no joy.

Fast forward a week to this past Monday, and we found the water had moved up yet another foot with all of the recent rain, spreading the minnows out even further, and making it a real chore to wade. While the water and weather are still relatively warm and waders are not particularly necessary, spots like the creek mouths required knee to thigh high wading. Bringing the waders would have probably been more comfortable and I may have ventured deeper than I was willing to without them. That said, we worked the area thoroughly with the switch rods using T8 tips and 5/32 flies and were not bumping bottom with the +1000cfs discharge and a decent south-southeast wind. I tied on a T11 to go dredging, and while I felt bottom, never anchored nor felt I was pulling up mussels every cast. I also did not find shad.

We moved up to the east bank of the St. Johns River near the mouth of the Econ where I promptly broke my ultralight 7 foot Fenwick Eagle while landing the canoe in the brush… real smooth! I actually have a second one at home so not too big of a deal, but if I break that one, I am going to have to find something different as that would make three in two years. While I like the rod’s 7 foot length for extra reach, I am beginning to think the tips are just too dang delicate for kayak/ canoe/ backpacking life.

The water here also required knee to thigh high wading and again waders would have been nice, but that said, they would not have helped me much when I fell off the east bank and went chest deep… a real possibility any time one decides to take on the challenge of wading the east bank when the gauge is 3.5 feet and the water well outside the banks. SMH… the things I do for this fish. 🙂

Again we worked the area very thoroughly, and just as we were about to move, Todd was the first to hook up with a nice shad, although it was quick released before I could get a picture. I continued dredging for another 20 minutes or so, picking up a couple of decent crappie before finally landing my first and only shad of the day. We continued fishing up and down the east bank, and found no other takers. After lunch and a beer, we moved over to the west bank where the water was ankle to knee high and the wind was at our back, allowing for truly beautiful hero casts, but even as we covered tons of water, we again found no takers and called it a day around 2:00

The fish are around, but MAN… do you have to work for them. The recent rain will be good for the run in general, hopefully allowing the fish to move further upstream, and extending our season. However, they are not moving through or congregating around CS Lee in great numbers yet. I will likely wait for the river to recede within its banks and drive the minnows back in to the river (I estimate somewhere around 2.6-2.8 on the gauge depending on the wind) before returning, unless we get a run of cold weather that drops the water temps and maybe gets the fish moving. Timing getting out there for round two of the feeding frenzy may prove tough though, as my Christmas vacation is quickly fading.

Fortunately I have some work to do on the new (to me) square stern Indian River Canoe I bought from a friend to get it setup the way I want for motoring either tandem or solo to keep me busy. Also, I have purchased my first gas motor, a modest 2.5hp 4 stroke Suzuki which I will need to do an initial break in on before taking it out on the river. I am excited to see what the expanded range this little motor will bring to my fishing adventures will be over the next season or two. Between these two projects, I may be able to resist the siren’s call for a couple of weeks. 🙂

First Trip of the Season, First Shad of the Season

Just a quick post here for posterity, as it was a short trip, and I did not get many pictures. I planned on making my first trip out to do some shad fishing the week of Christmas, but my girls had plans to go see a play last Sunday after church, which meant I had a free afternoon. I pinged Todd to see if he could swing it after church as well, and found out he was game. We met up at CS Lee around 12:30 and hit the water by 1:00.

Since we would only have half a day, the original plan was just to stick around the bridge to see what we could find, as reports near the Econ have been onesy-twosies for the day. Also, we already have a trip planned for next week, where we might focus a little more near the Econ. As we started fishing the first set of creek mouths, we ran in to Suede Langston, winner of the 2017/2018 First Shad of the Season Contest and got a report of a successful day on the water before he paddled in. We fished the creek mouths and I managed to catch two nice shad, but “quick released” them before getting a picture. Oh well, the cost of using barbless hooks.

After fishing for about an hour and picking up a couple small panfish, it became evident that there were not alot of fish congregating or making their way through, so we decided to motor up to the mouth of the Econ. There we ran in to Brandon McGraw who reported catching a lot of bass and crappie, but had not run in to any shad that day. Always good to run in to members of the Shad on the Fly Facebook Group!

We spent another hour or so swinging flies through a trickle of a current. I managed to hook up with one more shad and lost it after a jump or two. Again it did not seem like there were many fish congregating or moving through yet. We motored back down to the creek mouths and fished for about another hour with no takes before calling it a day around 4:15.

Not a ton of action, but there were fish there. Let’s hope that the rain this week gets them moving!

We Have a Winner -2019/2020

We have a winner! Congratulations to Steele Doxtater!!!! I think this is a record for the First Shad of the Season Contest with the first fish being caught, photographed and posted just a hint over 24 hours after the contest started! Steele caught this beauty near Marina Isle not too far from Cameron Wight. Last year’s winner Cas Summers was aboard, so let it be known that these big guns have no problem fishing bigger water in Shad Alley to get that early win! Way to go Steele, congratulations and I will send you a message in Facebook Messenger for your prize!

First Shad of the Season Contest- 2019/2020

Here we go! Let’s get the 2019/ 2020 shad fishing season started, with this season’s First Shad of the Season Contest! The winner will receive their choice of a $50 gift certificate to Orlando Outfitters, or a box of shad flies tied by yours truly!

First Shad of the Season Contest 2019/2020 Rules:

  1. The contest begins December 7, 2019 and ends once I have confirmed a winner
  2. This is a catch, photograph and release contest
  3. To be eligible you must:
    • Be a member of the Shad on the Fly Facebook Group. Membership is free, but the Facebook group is a closed group so you must request to be added as a member
    • Download the Shad on the Fly 2019/ 2020 Official Token image above and print it out in color. You may trim it down to size. 
      Alternatively, you can save it to your cell phone and use your phone to display the token as long as it is CLEARLY visible (just don’t drop it in the water!)
  4. To win you must:
    • Catch a shad using a fly rod and fly
    • Be the first person to upload a picture of the fish, fly reel, and fly with the Official Token clearly visible in the image to the Shad on the Fly Facebook Group
    • Must share the general location you caught the fish (e.g. downstream of Mullet Lake, Upstream of Lake Harney, C.S. Lee near the Econ, etc.)
  5. I will message the winner in Facebook to get their address and mail the prize, or setup a meetup on the water if possible. Whatever works best for the winner

 Official Facebook Stuff:

The Shad on the Fly- First Shad of the Season Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook. Participants understand that they are providing their information to the owner of the Shad on the Fly Facebook Group, and not to Facebook.           

Shad Show-and-Tell Presentation

Philippe Richen from the Orlando Kayak Fishing Club (OKFC) Facebook Group was nice enough to invite me to be the guest speaker for their Facebook Live Fishing Seminar #3 on December 5, 2019. This is a High Definition recording of my presentation. Topics include:

1. Equipment
What types of rods, reels, and lines do you need to fish for shad?

2. Flies/ Lures
What types of flies and lures are effective for catching shad?

3. Tactics
How to find fish and what to do to catch them

4. Preparing for the Season
What I do to get ready for the shad season

5. Where will I fish this year???
The places I plan to visit to fish for shad this year