So today I decided to try something completely new and leave the kayaks at home and make a hike in to the Little Big Econ State Forest to a center section of the lower Econ River. It is about a two mile hike to a section labeled a prime shad spawning area which meant it would take a lot less time to reach by foot than by kayak. My brother joined me, and we set out with our waders, fly rods, and provisions on our backs. We started our hike at Brumley Rd around 9:00am and enjoyed an easy walk along a truck road for about 1.25 miles where we reached the white trail heading towards the river. This trail is a single track about .75 miles long and decently defined until you get to the river. Once you reach the river you have a choice to head up river on the white trail, or down river on the yellow trail. We spotted two very large alligators in the area, so we fished from shore a bit. Back casting in this area can be challenging due to high banks and foliage. We did not spot or find any shad, so we made the decision to travel further up river along the white trail. Be aware that if the water is on the high side, you would find a deep creek that you would need to traverse to get there if you follow the white blazes. Check out the video below to see how NOT to cross it! LOL!!! Most of this area is high banked and not ideal for fly fishing. You would be better served bringing conventional tackle to fish this area. However, once you near the area of the Yarborough shelter, things flatten out a bit and there are some nice sand banks on the inside turns.
We fished for a couple of hours in the upper stretch of the prime spawning area and did not see or land shad. We stopped for lunch around 1:00 and then made our way all they way up to the Yarborough shelter where we ran in to the only other people we saw all day. We fished the area with no luck and confirmed that the others did not land shad either. At about 2:00 we decided to hoof it back to the yellow trail which took about 45 minutes. We moved down about another 15-20 minutes to the next turn and quickly found shad washing… on the opposite bank. This area is high banked, but there are areas you could step down to fish. I was able to reach the shad with my switch rod making Skagit casts but as many accounts can confirm, when you see shad washing, they generally won’t take a fly.
There are definitely shad in the Econ River right now, but if you decide to hike out this week to find them, you may want to start looking for them on the yellow trail and then make your way back up river. Also, conventional tackle would be a good idea to help search for them as a lot of the area is just not conducive to fly fishing right now.
My brother and I really enjoyed the hiking aspect of this trip and would certainly do it again!
Note to self: You could definitely mountain bike the truck trail and most likely the initial portion of the white trail until you get to the river to save time. Once you get to the trails at the river, it is probably easier to just hike it.