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Florida Shad Fishing- Chilly, but Starting to Heat Up

Shad caught on a fly in Florida

I braved the chilly weather today and I am glad that I did, I ended up landing eight shad and missed seven more. The temperature barely broke the mid 50s and there was not a cloud in the sky. The cold kept most people off of the water so I felt like I had the whole river to myself. Only a handful of others were as nutty as me and ventured out. The wind was light so I fished with my 5wt single hand fly rod a lot. Water clarity was incredible I could see down to my knees while wading waste high and the discharge was significant enough to warrant the use of a polyleader and 5/32 hourglass weighted flies.

Most of the morning I fished a pink and white Kip Tailed Clouser or an orange and white Shad Dart. Later in the day, I found no love from the shad for those offering so I switched tactics. I fished a tandem in the early afternoon with a 5/32 pink and white Shad Dart about a foot in front of a bead chain orange and white Shad Intruder. I caught shad on both the front and rear flies (not at the same time) and the fish seemed to have no real preference for one over the other. Later in the afternoon as what little wind we had completely died down, I used a Soft Hackle Shad Fly as the sun was still bright and I was fishing pretty shallow water. Doing so saved my afternoon.

I caught most of my fish between the 46 bridge and the mouth of the Econ. Most of the fish were caught near shore while hanging the fly straight down stream. My guess is that the shad were seaking the warmer shallow water as the sun came out. Later in the afternoon I tried the mouth of the Econ and I had absolutely no luck, but saw a couple tearing it up with spinning gear and roadrunners. They were anchored in the channel so the fish must have left the shallows for deeper current. I eventually gave up trying to reach and went back downstream and found fish again.

I have to say, I caught some absolutely gorgeous looking fish today. They had incredible color and contrast and I even caught a couple with well defined spots, which is rare down here. There is no doubt that the early fish are the most beautiful. While the weather was chilly, the action is definitely starting to heat up!

Here is some video of me fishing earlier in the day. I tried out something I learned from Luc Desjarlais’ presentation a couple of weeks ago. I generally retrieve with a figure-of-eight retrieve, but Luc recommended making large aggressive strips when retrieving the fly from the hang straight downstream. I gave it a shot and almost right on queue, I had a strike! If the slow retrieve is not catching fish, don’t be afraid to mix it up.

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