If you are a member of the SotF FB Group or an Instagram follower, you likely saw some of the pictures already, but I wanted to document our trip last weekend on the BLOG. Last Saturday was our scheduled group hike to 7 Palms, and I can only describe it as an AMAZING day of shad fishing together!
We met at 8:00am at the Canaveral Marshes Trailhead on a brisk morning that quickly warmed up and made the 2.5- 3mile hike to the river. With recent rain, there was some standing water in the usual places along the service road, and it was a little wet on the pasture, but nothing too uncomfortable. We were greeted by a mirrorlike finish on the river for about 10 minutes (literally) before someone flipped the switch and turned on the 20mph ENE wind (gusting to 30mph.)
This was to be expected, and frankly worked in our favor, as the wind blew bait out of the slough upstream of the shelter and turned the feeding frenzy on. Also, on this stretch of river, ENE wind allows you to make hero casts way out into the channel and helps quarter your cast downstream in midair for you. In other words, it’s no big deal. I will tell you this, if you wait around for the wind to lie down to what you consider to be perfect conditions before fishing this section of river, you are never going to wet a line. It seems like it’s always windy.
The group spread out across the entire run, and to be honest, I cannot recall who caught the first fish, but it happened pretty quick! Was it me??? We usually collect cash from each person wanting to participate for a winner-take-all jackpot for first fish, but it completely slipped my mind that morning. Was it Suede??? Eh… at any rate, it was within about the first 10 minutes of fishing, and it proceeded to be nonstop action all day. Was it Brian??? I can say that I caught my first fish of the day on my second cast, and then proceeded to catch another on about my fifth cast. I knew it was going to be a good day!
A good day it was, and I proceeded to put down my rod, walk the line and play paparazzi, snapping pictures of everyone catching fish. At one point I counted four concurrent hookups! We were all pretty giddy, whooping and hollering, giving high fives and fist bumps. It was a good group, and everyone helped each other catch fish. Once everyone was on the board, I got back to it and proceeded to catch quite a few shad of my own. Once again, the fish wanted aggressively stripped flies that stayed near surface. Swung flies did not even get their attention.
On this trip, everyone that hiked in caught shad, quite a few of us into the teens, and a couple of them caught 20+ fish! I think this is the first time I have experienced this with a group. It was one of those rare days where you could have caught a hundred if you wanted to! We, didn’t. We caught our fill, enjoyed lunch, conversation, and some even a beer or two with a cigar. 😉
Special thanks to John Mathews for making the drive down from South Carolina to join us. You take the prize for longest distance for any of the hikes we have done! Michael Leffler now has second place for coming down from Tallahassee. I have to brag on my friend Ron Flak now. Ron takes the prize for oldest to join us at 76 years young. I could tell Ron was a little nervous about the hike back, but let me tell you, he outpaced the rest of us, not kidding!
Thank you to (as pictured above) David, John, Keith, Ron, Brian, Suede, and Michael for joining us! Thank you to Ray for helping lead the hike with me. It was a great day of shad fishing!
For those that were not able to attend, what can I say? It was one for the books! I hope you can join us on a future hike. Going forward, this is how we are going to schedule them. Rather than planning hikes weeks ahead in advance and hoping for fish, they will be more of a “pop-up” event with short lead times to better align with the scouting we do early in the season, and when and where we have a good probability of catching fish. I know this can make coordination and planning difficult for some, but it makes for better catching, and not just fishing for the group as a whole. We will however consider both weekdays and weekends going forward to help include those that don’t have 9-5 schedules.