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!

Hike to 7 Palms scheduled for this Saturday 02-06-2021

7 Palms Panorama

Join Philippe Richen and I on Saturday for a hike to 7 Palms to do some fly fishing for shad. This is the first of a series (we hope) of hikes that the Orlando Kayak Fishing Community and the Shad on the Fly group will be co-hosting together this season.

We are limiting this hike to a maximum of 10 people (in addition to Philippe and I.) First to mark themselves as Going in the Facebook event, first served.

We will meet at the Canaveral Marshes Trailhead at 8:00am and make a leisurely hour long 2.5 mile walk to the river. Most of this is on an easy service road that is generally dry (as long as we have not had significant rain,) but as we approach the river, there can be some mud and water to cross to get to the 7 Palms shelter. From there we have access to quite a bit of shoreline on a section of the St. Johns River where shad congregate, and we will spend the day fishing until late afternoon, then hike back to the trailhead before dark.

To join us you will need:
Waders, sunscreen, a hat, protective but comfortable clothing depending on weather and temperature, first-aid kit, water/ beverages, lunch, snacks, fly rod and shad flies.

The fee: shad conversation during the walk & posting great pictures and reports on the Group pages.

Disclaimer: This is a wilderness area where you can expect to see, and potentially fish along side of alligators. In addition there can be snakes, feral pigs, cattle and other wildlife in this area. Cooler temperatures usually minimize our chance of an encounter, however they may occur. This hike is being offered “as is” and if you sign up, you agree that you recognize the inherent risk potentially involved and are responsible for your own actions & safety. You also agree to practice catch & release, leave nature as is, and to pack out what you pack in.

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

Save the Date 10/22/2019: Tying Shad Flies at Orlando Outfitters

Facebook post from Orlando Outfitters announcing guest tyer Chad Helenthal will demonstrate tying various shad flies

Hello to all of my fellow shad fanatics! T.J Bettis was kind enough to invite me to teach a fly tying class for shad flies at Orlando Outfitters on 10/22/2019 at 5:45pm. This is perfect timing, as I usually start to get the bug in late October and sit down at the vice to replace what I lost the prior year! If you live in the Central Florida area, come on out and join us for a fun evening!