"The shad are here!" They exclaimed.
Shad are amazing creatures to me. I doubt when many people catch them they appreciate the journey these fish make. I got to the river and geared up. I went with an intermediate line and two flies I tied. The flies were really for crappie but I figured they should work for shad to. I spent the first 20 minutes casting and just trying to enjoy the river. Splashes from fish were here and there. Most likely gizzard shad. Then I felt a tap.... tap... tap.... BAM! A fish was definitely on and it was a good one. I put pressure on the fish and it seemed like it did a 180 and swam right towards me. The rod went limp and there was no tension on the line. Was it a shad? I hadn't caught one from land before so I had nothing to reference. It was a good fish whatever it was. I had wondered if that was going to be my only chance. I played around with different retrieves. Slow strips, 2-3inch quick strips, fast short strips.. FISH ON!
I was using an 8wt rod mainly because I wanted the backbone in case I ran into a bowfin or carp. It was a good thing I had it. This fish turned in the current and used it to perfection. I kept massive pressure on the fish and I just wanted to see what it was. C'mon, c'mon, the fish would get near the surface then dive down again. Then after what seemed like an eternity I got a glimpse. It was a shad! A big one! The next thing that rushed through my mind were all the comments about how easy it is to rip the hook out of a shads mouth. I got the fish close pleading, "please stay on, please stay on." The fish was done or so I thought. I had it next to me and while I fumbled with my camera it started to flop back towards the water. NOOOOOO! I did my best and most gentle combination of almost body slamming the fish and securing it. I got it into position and seriously every time I went to push the shutter it started to flop around. I finally just took one like this
Not the best picture. At least I got one though. It was surreal. Did I really do it? Was this really a shad? A fish that spends the majority of its life in the ocean was right here under my hand 150miles from saltwater. Pretty Cool! To top it off it was caught with a fly I tied and the fish qualifies for a North Carlina Citation. All I can think about is catching another one now. I think I have what some people call a shaddiction.