A Dismal 8 Days For Shad And Stripers
Written By: Bill Adelman, March 13, 2012
Last time we checked out the early shad season at Verona, and the report is dismal. As unsuccessful anglers, it is often easy to point out all the negatives that cause a poor outing, or 8 days of poor outing. Such was the case during our annual shad trip this year.
My initial foray for shad and stripers took place the third week of May. Historically, a solid time to be hittin’ the creek. It just went from horrible to worse than horrible fishing results.
Let’s review…wind, more wind and then more excessive wind plagued our attempts almost every day. As cottonwood blew like a mid winter Colorado snow storm, my dormant allergies kicked in and never let up. We experienced overcast and chilling cold. Then, just overcast.
Then, just cold. Then, rain, and for a few minutes, hail. Our first couple of days the river was dropping, then it settled and for one complete day, we had perfect shadding conditions.
Water temperature finally got into the 60’s and the Feather River flow was perfect, with clarity about 5 feet. The color line was so visible that even I could see it with the naked eye, (another strange thought…naked eye?
As the week started to wind down, the river rose 3 feet in a 3 day time frame. Boy, did that jack up the bite. During those 3 days, we caught 3, 9 and 6 shad respectively. The other intent of the “vacation” was to get 2, 20-25 inch stripers for the griddle.
The first day, I got 3 barely legal, so released them, as after all, it was the first day and the Fish Sniffer reported that the striper bite was on a tear. The second day, I got 3 more barely legal, so dumped them as well. Nary another striper above 18 inches the rest of the trip.
As my need for breaded striper fillets is almost uncontrollable, I stayed with it for the entire trip. On the last day, my striper rod was set up in a rod holder, and I had switched to a 5 inch green over chartreuse Gulp swimmin’ shad, running it about 4 feet below the surface.
At 11:45 AM the rod tip hit the water and the drag sung like a Tony Soprano turncoat . As the monster “striper” ripped line while heading clean across to the other side of the river, I’m thinking, “Rats, it’s too big and I’ll have to release it”.
NO - NO - NO!!!!! At 12:02 PM, the hog was finally sighted, then a rather loud and single minded word drifted on the wind towards Alcatraz Island. We have a great picture of my salmon, holding in the water, with a two-tone swimmin’ shad hanging from its beak. An in the water release was just the beginning of a head hanging disappointment on the final day of our trip.
Well, almost as disappointing. On day 2, just as I was breaking the surface with a 3 or so pound shad, readying it for the net, my HMX graphite flyrod snapped with the vigor of a 22 cartridge having just been pinged by the firing pin of my rifle. Again, ask why there are 3 backup flyrods in camp.
My son and his new wife showed up for the first weekend, setting up right next to us long after the sun had broken the tree line. His 25 or so year old fly reel blew up on his second fish, and even though I offered to look at it to see if it could be reactivated, he said no, as in his mind, it was possible that still further damage could be done by my inspecting it.
The morning of the second day they were in my boat, and as I took her BRAND NEW fly outfit in order to demonstrate the “S” strip using the current, I realized she had no drag, no matter how much one turned the control knob. My offer to check it out was again dismissed.
Who raised this kid? As if there had to be a definitive moment, someone copped my small, perfectly designed, unable to replace hose nozzle right out of camp. What else could possibly have gone wrong??? You had to ask.
As we were just running the river, scanning with the LCR looking for topo changes in the river as well as for shad, we approached the Feather River sandbar and suddenly found ourselves in 3-4 feet of water.
Calling on my 42 years of experience fishing this area of the Sacramento, I gently put the outboard in reverse and began turning towards the center of the river.
KLUNK. An old sycamore, about 60 feet long, was wedged underwater. As I backed off, it jumped forward and stung my aluminum prop. Anyone wanna go shad fishing next year???
However, that was then, this is now. Shad had best be stacked up in the American River and should provide action through the middle of July. At least historically this has been the case.
Word is that Shanghai Bend on the Feather is solid with fish, however be advised the shore guys will be shoulder to teakettle at that location. By using the access on the East side of the Feather just below the outlet hole, shore tossers can do well by wading and plying (plying???) the riffles created by the gravel bars. If you are flyfishing here, a sink tip is all you’ll need, other than some really terrific shad flies that I have in mind.
Next time we’ll take a look at New Hogan Reservoir, as hopefully the topwater striper bite will be in full swing. Seeya then, & Tight Lines!!!