I picked up Luc Desjarlais’ Wade Fly Fishing The Upper St. Johns River Basin (Florida) for American Shad in October of 2015, and boy do I wish I would have had this book in 2011 when I first started targeting shad on the fly on the St. Johns River! Some of the information that Desjarlais shares in this book took me several years of exploration, trial and error, and talking to other fishermen to figure out on my own. There was also quite a bit in the book that I did not know before reading it, particularly with regards to geography and geology, which I really enjoyed learning about.
Wade Fly Fishing The Upper St. Johns River Basin (Florida) for American Shad is an amazing resource for any fisherman (fly or otherwise) targeting shad on the upper St. Johns River, be it wading, by kayak, canoe, or other boat. Desjarlais provides clear and concise information on techniques and equipment, the fish and wildlife you will likely encounter in your pursuit for shad on the fly, and most importantly where to go and when. The book provides water gauge information, maps showing depth and water flow suitable for spawning shad, maps of areas accessible by foot or boat, and boat launches along the run. This book is essentially a treasure map for the fly fisherman targeting shad on the St. Johns River, color coded and marked-up for your success!
The only area of the book where I wish Desjarlais would have dug in a little more and provided some additional detail, was in the shad flies themselves. The book only covers seven flies, three of which are very well known flies for targeting shad (the Crazy Charlie, the Clouser Minnow, and the Gotcha.) If those were the only flies in your box, you would indeed be able catch shad… so I cannot complain too much. However, I enjoy fly tying as much as I enjoy fly fishing, so I would have liked to have seen some more fly patterns specific to our waters. That said, there are other resources such as Shad on the Fly, and C. Boyd Pfeiffer’s Shad Fishing where plenty of fly patterns for shad can be found.
While I would probably consider the 2002 re-print of Pfeiffer’s Shad Fishing to be the most comprehensive book on the subject of shad fishing, if you are targeting shad on the St. Johns River, you will not find a better resource than this book.
Visit Luc’s website at http://wadeflyfishing.com/ to explore the rest of the books in his Wade Fishing series.