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Hike to 7 Palms to Shad Fish (2022)

7 Palms Panorama

Just a quick post for posterity, as most everyone has already shared on the Shad on the Fly Facebook Group or OKFC Group. Last Saturday we completed the group hike into the Canaveral Marsh Conservation Area, specifically to 7 Palms, to do some fly fishing for shad. This coordinated event between the Orlando Kayak Fishing Community and Shad on the Fly was originally planned for last month but was scrapped due to heavy rain the days prior, and a 30+mph wind expected that day.

The group met at 8am at the parking area and made the hike down to the river on what started as a chilly, overcast, and rainy morning. The main trail was dry except for the normal puddles as you approach the river. With the SR 50 gage at ~3.3ft, the pasture was relatively dry as you approached the slough, but we stuck to the easterly route, stayed high and dry, and were audience to some beautiful panoramic views of the front pushing through the floodplain, which included a rainbow out in the distance.

Panorama of Rainbow on St. Johns River Floodplain

When we arrived at the river, we were greeted with a parade of airboats, evidently headed to an event that I missed on the calendar, even though I joined all the groups I could last year. Roughly 50 airboats came and went throughout the day. The only event I saw scheduled for the weekend was an Airboat Rodeo at East Marsh in Fellsmere, but that seems like some serious motoring from SR50. Anyway, it was a good reminder to everyone that you really never know what to expect on this section of river, and that ultimately a bunch of fly fishermen wading the river in search of spawning shad, are actually the oddity in this part of the world.

Dave Olsen with the only shad caught on a fly
With an eaglelike talon grip, Dave holds his prize!

The shad fishing was slow, with Dave Olsen being the only one to bring a shad to hand, but there were multiple hookups, and several other species were caught. In all it was a great day with the only incident being a HELICOPTER CRASH on the landing strip! There were no fatalities, and I got a picture of it being towed out below. Again, just a reminder that you never know what you are going to see on this section of river.

Mike Steven, Chuck Whitten, and Zain Khalid it was great to meet you and I enjoyed fishing and talking with you.

Dave Olsen, Suede Langston, Keith Browning, Philippe Richen and Chris Waguespack, it was great to see you, and I enjoyed fishing and talking with you too.

Ray Ayala, always a pleasure, and I appreciate you co-leading the event, and inviting the family over for a BBQ that night!

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