Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Persistence Doesn't Always Pay Off

I was down in Sacramento a week or so ago and stopped by the American River where we fish for Shad, but I didn't say anything because all I did was look at the river. The output from Natomas Dam at the time was 1500 cfs coming off a long stretch of 1000 cfs releases.

For Shad to come up the river in good numbers the outflow should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000cfs to 5000cfs. For the last three or four days the flow has been increased to 2500cfs and since I had to go down anyway, what better reason to wander over and take a peek.

There seemed to be enough water for a fish or two to make it upriver so I grabbed my spinning rod and net and walked to the "spot". On the way (it's about a quarter mile or more) I passed a guy on a bike who was riding up and down the river looking for schools. He wasn't seeing any which was not a good sign.

I kept going anyway. When I got to the "spot" I started swinging the pink grub we use and after 25 or so swings, set the rod down and picked up the camera.    

In the picture below (you need to double click and make it larger) to the right of the bush on the left and across the river is a triangle shaped bush. That is known as the sneaker tree. It seems that rafters going down the river stop by that tree and tie a sneaker to it. For what reason, I have no idea except somebody started and the rest followed. 

I took a shot across the river and in this photo you can see how shallow the river is. The water is a foot deep and should be three or four feet.

In this one, the gravel on the bottom right should be two feet or more underwater if the flows were where they are supposed to be.
When one is casting for Shad, one becomes oblivious to one's surroundings. This was brought to my attention when I made a cast and a fish (could have been a Steelhead or a Salmon) about 26 inches long bolted as I cast. It was swimming a foot off my foot and I didn't even see it until it jetted. Note to self, PAY ATTENTION........

OK, last thing, the picture below is a flock of mute geese. Yes, I said mute geese. I've never known a goose (and God knows I've seen plenty) to shut up. Know what I mean? This flock never mumbled a sound the whole time it was within sight. I have no other explanation than that they were mute. Wonder if they were deaf too. Oh never mind.

Mute Geese
Shad wise, nada. I did come across one guy as I was leaving that caught one early in the morning, but that was it. There is still plenty of time to try again if the water release gets up where it should be. If not, maybe Shad season is over. Time will tell.



  1. Thanks for sharing the view on your Shad stream. Pretty water, but, wish you had more success with the Shad population. Never fished for Shad so don't have any tips. Hope to learn some from you.

  2. I've always liked what I've heard of shad and those who chase them. Hope you get your shot this year.

  3. I used to fish the shad runs here in CT. many years ago.
    They are a strong foe, and leap like crazy. They were refered to as the poor mans salmon.

  4. Mark
    The shad can be fun on the right tackle, I have landed some in the 5 to 6" range using a 3 wt. on our tailrace. They are mixed in with the skipjacks in the early spring. What is the water temp below the dam?

    1. Hey Bill. These are not the shad like you catch. These are 2,3,up to 5 & 6 pounds and 18 to 20 inches or more in length. They are big and would require at least a 6wt. I fish with a 6'6" rod and 4 pound test on spinning reel. Where I fish is several miles from the dam, but the water coming out of the dam (and if you'll forgive the pun) is damn cold.

  5. My buddy that I fished with last weekend apparently caught a shad or a shiner I don't know for sure which. Heck I didn't know we had them here or if that was really what it was.