View Full Version : Shad questions ??

David Lee
04-30-2008, 07:44 AM
Hopefully .... we have a 'SHAD-OLIGIST' hiding here on the board ...

I've always wondered .....

Where do Shad go while at sea ?? South ? The Arctic ??

Do Shad really go to where there is the most cool water to spawn , and NOT their natal rivers ??

How long do they live ?? And at what age do they first spawn ??

What % of Shad are repeat spawners ?? How many trips into freshwater can they make during their lifetimes ??

Help me sleep at night - find the answers :idea:

David :D :D

Bill Kiene semi-retired
04-30-2008, 08:11 AM
They survive spawning better in the northern most ranges.

I have caught them in Florida in February in the Saint Johns River near Titusville. Down south they start spawning in those river first.

More seem to die from spawning in southern rivers than rivers to the north.

I have heard that they do go to the rivers with the better flows to spawn and are looking for a certain flow and water temperature too.

I believe they free spawn in the surface like Stripers, mostly at night now.

Because the American Shad is not a commercial food fish they have done little to study them.

Over the past 40 years I believe there are less in Nor Cal every year.

They did bring them over here from the east coast about the same time they brought over the Stripers on a train in about 1877.

David, I have a new book at the shop you can borrow and read about the Shad.

In 1974 I was contacted by Boyd Pfeiffer who was writing a book 'Shad Fishing' and I gave him all the information I could about Nor Cal Shad fishing. I sent him samples of our local Shad flies too. After it was published in 1975 he sent me an autographed copy in thanks for my help.

Mike Stroud
04-30-2008, 08:53 AM
Hey David,
Here's another resource the has a lot of knowledge about shad and also a good read. This is a must read for any shad angler.

"The Founding Fish" by John McPHee

David Lee
04-30-2008, 09:32 AM
Bill/Stroud -

Thanks !!

Things I DO know about Shad ......

Yes - they always have that silly look on their Shad-faces :unibrow: .

They are tender - don't use the 5 wt. , don't handle them much , don't drag 'em onto the bank [-X .

They taste good to Stripers , judging by the number of times I have seen hooked Shad gain 20+ Lbs. and scream off downriver :eek: .

They move in the water colum vertically - if you are fishing a 14-foot deep run w/ leadcore , and the Shad are stacked up at 7 feet , you won't catch many . Carry heads in different sink rates :idea: .

If your Shad is REALLY fresh , his/her spots will not be visible , or will appear faded - Shad that have been in for a while will have well-defined Black spots running down both sides .

Shad are unusally color-sensitive . I've seen a hot bite drop off of , say .... a Pink fly - no one will catch squat until somebody ties on a Chart. fly .

They WILL feed in freshwater . I've seen them eat Caddis , as well as large Clousers , chunks of Anchovy , rubber jigs , etc. .

They don't jump nearly as much as I've read .

Although they are not natives ...... Shad contribute to the foodchain here . I believe they are a good thing to have in California .

David :D :D :D

mike N
04-30-2008, 12:19 PM
Hey DL,

When you say don't use a 5wt, do you mean to say that is too heavy?

That is all I use for the shads and haven't had trouble bringing in big hens. I used to fish with a guy that only used a 3wt, he always out fished me and would land the fish in a very timely fashion.


David Lee
04-30-2008, 05:13 PM
Hey Mike !

Just MY opinion here .....

Shad WILL fight you to death - I've seen too many people fight them too long , then release a dead fish . If you use a 'light' rod (3-6 wt.) the WRONG way , you will kill fish .

I usually use a 7 wt. , sometimes a 8-10 - I can brutalize those lil' buggers and get them back in while they are are still fighting . I have seen , more often than not , guys using too light of gear and playing Shad for 5+ minutes -

That isn't fair to the fish .

Use the gear you have , use heavy tippets , and drag 'em in green - Don't handle them , and don't drag them in for a two-hand photo - that only leads to making 'crawdad food' .

Again , just MY opinion .

David :D

04-30-2008, 05:33 PM
I've heard that the reason why the Shad populations are diminishing year after year is because the external membrane on the spawned eggs is penetrated by agricultural and industrial pollutants, killing the embryo before it hatches.

A similar problem occurs with the stripers that spawn from Knight's Landing to the mouth of the Feather.

mike N
04-30-2008, 05:38 PM
Sounds like operator error to me, DL. :?:

I say lay the wood to them. :P


Jeff C.
05-01-2008, 10:01 AM
I've been using a 6 wt. for years now and have gotten into hand stripping them in. I get them in for a release typically in 30 seconds. I rarely put one on the reel. That's why my buddies would always ask me "Did you Ching 'em in?" when I land a fish. Jeff C.

05-01-2008, 12:31 PM
Tristan, the guy that told me the above was a DFG biologist. This was probably eight or nine years ago. He stated that the number of viable eggs for both stripers and shad were affected and that the discoveries had to do with the PPM and PPB that scientists were able to measure now that science was not capable of measuring in the past. He said that some of the trace chemicals were almost infinite but affected spawning.

Again, I'm only repeating what I was told though so I may be completely wrong! It seemed logical to me though since my ignorance is a wide open door to what ever sounds reasonable if not actual.

While no one knows where the shad go, we do know that the number of juvenile stripers is dropping annually as well. These fish do not migrate far from shore as do salmon or shad. Many spend their whole lives in brackish to fresh water so ocean conditions should not affect them as much. That's one of the reasons I took what I was told as gospel.

Of course this is not the only problem with the delta what ever the cause, just one of many.

05-01-2008, 01:40 PM
Noticed Bill cited a book by Boyd Pfeiffer. 8) It reminded me of a booklet I found in a used book store in Nevada City titled: How to Catch, Bone & Cook a Shad. 8) This publication was issued in June 1970 thru DFG. I was written to encourage people to use the fish (apparently anything beyond catching was not an issue to most fisherman) :lol:

One of the chapters is, "How to Bone a Shad in 32 steps." The procedure is accompanied by photographs. :roll: After reading the "how to" section, I decided that I'll take my Shad smoked or pickled, thank you. :lol: :lol: The bone pattern in Shad is complex; not to mention numerous. :roll: :roll:

Gotta get in some Shad fishin' before going to baja. :D :D :D

05-01-2008, 03:16 PM
Tristan, I didn't think you put me down at all! I possessed the ignorance I spoke of long before your post! :lol:

I was just saying that I know so little in this area that anything seeming logical is bait for my gullible mind! :roll:

I was also recently told that enough prescription medicines are now flushed down toilets that the water below filtration plants shows measurable and possibly long term toxicity levels. Any info on that? :?:

I'm glad to hear that the levels of agricultural chemicals in the rivers are diminishing and hope they're not replaced by the stuff I just mentioned.

As far as the delta, that's a very easy question. I want the old, sometimes salty, sometimes brackish, sometimes fresh water delta back. I want the large stocks of salmon back. I want the population of stripers to be within the 3,000,000 to 6,000,000 range again. I want the oysters back in S.F. Bay. I want the brackish water nursery where all kinds of juvenile fish and crustaceans lived, providing a wide and varied food chain.

LMB are a fun fish but so are smallmouth. I used to fish for smallmouth on the American in the late 50's early 60's. There are still populations on the Feather. There are a few on the Mokelumne, too far up for my boat. A healthy ecosystem would be a vast improvement over the fishery we have now.

However, I heard on the radio that the population of California has now topped 38 million. Most of those people live in the south state. They have the votes and they, as a rule, don't fish. In fact, I think the number of licenses sold last year was under 1.25 million.

Sooner or later water will be a ballot issue. We won last time on the peripheral canal. I don't know if we will be able to continue winning in the future.

If the voters of the state, even though they were taught ecology and preserving the environment by young idealistic teachers in their elementary years, have to choose between a hot shower and a green lawn or a fish, I think the hot shower and green lawn will win.

All we can do is delay the process as long as possible. :(

lee s.
05-04-2008, 08:49 PM
Your last post proves you to be a very wise man indeed. 8)
Good seeing you this w/e. :wink:
....lee s.

Kevin Goding
05-14-2008, 10:00 AM
To Jerry in Lodi: Regarding the stuff below water treatment plants...
As far as I know there is no definitive answer to this. Water quality is a very tricky business, and the things they list as being detected really hinges on what people are looking for. Also statistics can be done to say a lot of things. As to the argument that there are less agricultural chemicals in waterways now than in the past I would say probably true, but like I said depends on what they are really comparing. Are they doing a direct concentration comparison or looking for different categories of compounds. I say this basically because the Ag industry and water quality folk basically play a cat and mouse game in terms of use and detection, kind of like professional athletes and performance enhancing drugs. Also, a lot of categories of pesticides used in the past have basically been banned or phased out of usage. Plus the chemicals employed now, are extremely more potent, so using less/acre can skew the argument, eg... concentrations in the waterways appear lower, however toxicity may in fact be greater.

Anyway back to the WWTP issue, the big issue being looked into now with that is all the pharmacy stuff being flushed down the toilet/excreted out of our bodies and basically getting into the ecosystem. Endocrine disruption is the new fad of water quality interest, and came about because basically people are finding things like salmon that have undergone apparent sex changes, mostly male to female as far as I know. People think this is due to exposure to estrogens being flushed down the toilet. This is also why nalgene is discontinuing that line of bottles, that plastic leeches endocrine disruptors out, and there was a lot of hoo haw trying to say it was bad for pregnant women and people trying to conceive. In terms of acute toxicity (death) WWTP have very little effect from what I've seen, however, they can have a substantial chronic/altering type of toxicity. I took part in a three year study sampling below many of the smaller WWTP here in the SAC valley and in terms of benthic biota, WWTP had little effect on those communities.

To close the rant, I would also have to stress that the reason a lot of our native species are in decline is not really a toxicity issue, it's the highly modified aquatic conditions we've created in this state. Most waterways are now so far diverged from their evolutionary path, our native species can't compete with introduced species or just survive in general because all there ecological/evolutionary adaptations have become useless due to our modifications. There's a reason most of our native fish are minnows and anadromous salmonids, most of the streams here in the valley and foothills used to be bone dry in the summer/fall. Now we have resevoirs, hydropower, and WWTP on many of them, creating permanent streams with alternating warm/coldwater habitats and introduced fish. So a stream typically used to only seeing steelhead, now are permanent with bass, catfish, etc... the steelhead lose. Nobody knows the exact answer for all the declines, but it's some ratio of habitat degradation:toxicity. A lot of you guys are familiar somewhat with the delta, and one example on how its been changed can be seen with the C&H sugar plant below the bay bridge. It was built there with the sole intention that it would have an "endless" supply of freshwater available to it, now it's hooked up to city water, that's how much freshwater we've diverted out of the delta.

05-15-2008, 07:06 PM
Does anyone catch Shad using an indicator??

05-15-2008, 08:01 PM
What size and color.... :?: :?: :?: Shad never took an indicator for me.... :? :roll: :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol:

05-16-2008, 04:26 AM
I was thinking like a red or green Copper John under an indicator??

05-16-2008, 07:16 AM
What about using a chartreuse Cooper John :?: :?: Never thought about using an indicator for Shad before. I guess, with the flows being so low, you could use an indicator to catch 'em and keep the fly from hanging up on the bottom.... Would an indicator float a size 6 or 8 fly :?: :?:

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 8) 8) 8)

Jeff C.
05-16-2008, 07:28 AM
I saw a couple of guys using an indicator for shad last year. One was anchored in the middle of the river at Upper Sunrise. He didn't do too well. The other guy wading and he caught a couple.
I think swinging for them (with twitching the line at the botttom) is the most effective method for shad.
Jeff C.

Kevin Goding
05-16-2008, 09:22 AM
Yeah I've found swinging is way more productive, I've had friends out standing next to us drifting under an adjustable bubble (so they could fish various water depths) and they never even got a strike, while all of us with fly rods were hooking up constantly.