9.May, 3:30-6:pm, behind Bart's and the RR bridge. There were 6 people working the bank when I got there. As I was unloading my tackle from the car, one guy walked away with a decent size shad, after setting up bankside and getting a couple of casts in, one of the guys to my left landed a nice roe, and right after that, a guy near the bridge to my right landed a decent buck; both were C&R. Shad seemed to come through about every 45 minutes and 1 or 2 were caught, and most released. About 5:30 pm, after watching pretty much everyone else get 1 or 2, I finally got my turn in. I had a solid hookset on a fair to middlin' shad, it was hooked in the side of the mouth at an awkward angle, and it fought outside it's weight class. It gave me 3 good runs before I got it to the net, and I released it after our Kodak moment. A couple more shad were caught to make it 8 observed for the 2.5 hours I was there. All in all, it was a very good day.
The water was about at the same level as it was on Thursday, and fairly clear with only a little flotsam. There was a decent current, which improved as the afternoon wore on, and the surface temp was 59° F.
Terminal tackle: 3/4 oz drail over 3' of 8# flouro, and hammered silver willows in blue/chartreuse w/black dot, safety green w/black dot, and the "reverse ladybug" (white w/several orange dots). The ladybug brought my vitamin shad to the net.
Depending on how much rain we get, and how dirty the river is, I may give Bissell a shot tomorrow after work. Otherwise, Bart's has been treating us pretty well the past week or so, and it won't trouble me to go back there. Tight lines!
10.May, 4:25-4:45 pm, Bissell. The water was up to the last cleat, ~1/2 way up the ramp, and dirty. The current was languid, I expected better after the rain overnight and this morning. Two guys were dead sticking on the bottom of the ramp, and only one regular was taking casting practice, but not catching. After taking a few casts, and mostly snagging the bottom, I bailed up to Bart's.
~5:pm-7:pm, RR bridge back behind Bart's. Only 2 plying the bank on arrival. As they left, a few other anglers straggled in. The water was about the same level as last night, actually ~4" lower, and fairly clear, but the current was really nice and strong. Surface temp 53° F, with lots of flotsam, and larger pieces of wood, logs, and limbs drifting through. On my third cast, my retrieve was stopped cold by a hard hitter. She fought well in the current, and it's always more challenging with U/L tackle, that's why I use it. She made a few good runs before I got her to the net for our Kodak moment, and released her. She went over 3#, maybe pushing 4, nice and thick. On my second cast following, I had another good hookset. I was able to net it and unhook it, it might have been a small roe or large buck, but I never got the chance to check. As I reached for my phone for our moment, it got all slappy, tossed itself onto the rocks and surfed right into the water. LOL, that was one energetic shad! About 6:30 pm I netted a small roe, releasing her after our Kodak moment. Other than 3 alewives, in addition to the shad, that was all she wrote, and nobody else got more than an alewife.
Terminal tackle: 3/4 oz drail over 3' 8# flouro leader, and all 3 shad were C&R on a "reverse ladybug" hammered silver willow.
The way things have looked, and been happening at Bart's the last few trips, I'll be heading back tomorrow after work, unless I get some 411 that somewhere else is on fire. I doubt it. Tight lines!
11.May, 4:25-6:20 pm, RR bridge behind Bart's. The water was about the same level as yesterday, fairly clear, with a lot of maple seeds, and oak flowers, but not as much lumber floating past. The current was good, but not as strong as yesterday. I didn't bother with a surface temp today.
Three regulars were working the bank when I arrived, and gave reports of scattered shad, and a few alewives making an appearance. Dylan had a hard hit, and a good fight with a few runs for good measure before landing a nice fat roe. She measured about 21" long, and weighed 3.8#. Unfortunately she was gill hooked and bleeding out. He didn't want her, and offered her to me. Thank you Dylan, I vacuum sealed the fillets, and egg sacks for some good eats.
A couple of more regulars came by to join us, including a young guy who has been putting in his time. Dylan wound up catching two more roes over the next hour and a half, both had released their eggs and were spent. They looked like long, lean bucks, but their vents were dead giveaways. One was released unharmed, but unfortunately the other was gill hooked. One of the guys who joined us landed a roe bigger than Dylan's. He didn't weigh it but it was obviously longer, and fatter; we guessed over 4#. After that, the alewives stormed the place.
Terminal tackle: 3/4 oz drail over a shorter 2'-2.5' 8# flouro leader (there wasn't much room in my back cast where I was standing on the rocks). Willows in hammered silver: reverse ladybug, orange/chartreuse w/black dot, Yellow w/black dot, and a hammered copper in red/white w/black dot. Evidently I didn't set the table right today, as other than a few short strikes, probably by alewives, I got no fish today, except for the gift.
12.May, 4:45-6:40 pm (delayed at work), RR bridge behind Bart's. Three regulars were working the bank when I arrived, and no shad on the bank or tales of C&R. The water was down about 1', clear and with decent current, surface temp a nominal 60°F. A couple of more regulars settled in upstream of us in the next hole, and they C&R a couple of shad over the next hour or so. Then the guy to my left brought in a short, but very fat roe which I netted for him, and he promptly released. About 6:15 pm I had a light hit that quickly escalated to a fair tug in the current. A rolling tale flip showed a middlin' buck more than 1/2 way across the river. Have I mentioned how much I love the way the U/L handles shad? After a brief tussle, Dylan helped me get my one-a-day in the net for a Kodak moment before I released it. Even the alewives were few and far between this afternoon.
Terminal tackle: 3/4 oz drail over 3' 8# flouro and several hammered silver willows in a variety of colors. The Jamaican was the plat du jour for my scaly friend.
13.May, 1:45-6:pm, the Wall, Cromwell. Over a dozen folx were working the wall, from end-to-end. A gaggle of chunkers were down on the south end of the wall dead-sticking, but the shad fishermen were spread out pretty well along the rest of the wall. The water was down enough to confirm I made a good decision getting a new net with a 8'+ handle. It was clear, mostly debris free, and there was some current but it wasn't as strong as I expected. I started off with my 6' med-heavy Ugly-stick mated to a Penn 4400 SS over a 1.5 oz drail, the usual leader, and a hammered copper willow sans decorative paints. On my second cast I had a strong hook up, and the dance started with a leap. She had some back, and used it to her advantage in the current. That she hit it way out helped her, too. But the med-heavy set up was more than enough to bring her to the wall, and we saw that she was long and fat. Once she saw the net, she tossed the hook with a roll, and was gone. So close, and yet so far. C'est la guerre. 1.5 oz of lead was too much for the want of current, so I switched to my U/L set-up with a 3/4 oz drail. It took a little longer to reach the bottom, but little was the operative word. It wasn't much work to hold near or at the bottom.
A small run must have come in, because a few more were landed before 3:pm, and a little after that I had had another hook-set, this one was close to the wall. Beau coup fun on the U/L bringing a middlin' roe to the net. She went back in the drink after our Kodak moment. Things settled down a little after that, with a some alewives thrown in the mix so we could draw a few short straws. After 3:30 pm, things heated up. Shad were landed by ones along the length of the wall with a double for good measure, and then close to 4:pm there was a triple. And just after the triple, I had a soft hook-set, it felt like an alewife. When I got it close to the wall, we saw one of the smallest bucks I've ever seen. It was maybe twice the size of a blueback herring, maybe it weighed a pound, or a hair more. Most of the shad caught (and most were released), as far as I could tell, were spent roes, having spawned; a few were big and fat, and heavy with roe. I'd say a couple of the largest ran ~4.5# +/-.
Today was a very good day at the Wall, it was getting crowded by the time I left. And for good reason, the ladies are in! I saw a few really good, drag-screaming runs today. I love that sound. After work I'm going out of town for the weekend. But I took next week off from work, and I think it was very good timing. It seems to be prime time.
Terminal tackle: drail weights were covered in the foregoing verbiage, leader same-same. Willows: hammered copper got a big roe close to the net, hammered silver in Jamaican, reverse ladybug, blue/chartreuse w/black dot, orange w/black stripe (got the dinky buck, and a handful of short hits that didn't stick), and finally a red/white w/black dot.