Heading for The Wall before sunrise today, penciling in The Chicopee River tomorrow, trolling the Farmington Wednesday. CT River yesterday at 26,000 cu ft/sec current too fast to troll at Thompsonville, came back off in 20 minutes as I was going downstream trying to troll upstream.
1.May: I arrived at the Wall before 4:30 pm, traffic out of Hartford was surprisingly light. Only 3 other regulars were there, and all had their arms in a cast. Not one had caught a shad recently, but 2 said that they had caught at least one earlier in the day. The river had risen to about 3' below the top course of stones, the current was fairly stiff, and coffee colored. It was overcast, and the wind was blowing fresh from Middletown, making the water choppy, at least there wasn't much flotsam drifting through. By the time I left at 6:pm, the sun had popped out, and no one had so much as a bump from shad, including about a half dozen others who had joined us in casting practice. No fish today.
Terminal tackle: the 1.5 oz drail held it's own, given enough time to drift to the bottom; 3.5' of 10# flouro, and the brightest, flashiest willows in my box.
If we don't get too much rain tonight, maybe the water will clear some by tomorrow. One can hope. Tight lines!
2.May: I arrived at the Wall about 4:15 pm to find only 2 souls, serious shadaholics working the river. And boy-o was the river up, and rising. By the time I left at 6:pm, it had risen about an inch or so, which I believe was on a falling tide. The water lapped at the top course of stones, with some of the lower courses at the water level, and wet. The water remained coffee colored, the current was stiffer than yesterday, and a surface temp was 52ºF. Normally from the top of the Wall I cannot reach the water to take a temp reading, for instance yesterday the water was ~3' below the wall, out of my arm's reach. And no one else joined us on the bank. Sure, it was a fool's errand, but I had made the trip, so I decided casting practice was worth the gas. To the point: no fish today; not for nobody.
Terminal tackle: 1.5 oz drail over 3.5' 10# flouro, and a couple of bright, flashy hammered silver willows. With patience, I was able to work the drail to feel it bump the bottom in spite of the higher water, and stiff current.
If I stop after work tomorrow, which is doubtful due to the forecast, I'll probably head over to Bart's to survey the Farm'y. I don't think that will be much, if any better. We'll see just what the weather brings tonight, and tomorrow. Tight lines!
Late report, 3.May: Worked a little later, and arrived behind Bart's ~4:45 pm to find a pile of shadaholics prepping, and practicing for the Shad Derby this weekend. I was able to squeeze into the rock pile. The Farm'y was as high as I've seen it this year, only the points on the bridge abutment footings were above water, and not by much. People were almost casting from the sidewalk. The current was fair, the water turbid, but not coffee or cocoa colored, and not much flotsam. I was too lazy to check the surface temp. By the time I left about 6:pm, a half dozen shad had been landed. I, of course, didn't even get a bump, living up to my handle...
Terminal tackle: a 3/4 oz drail didn't cut the muster, so I stuck with the 1.5 oz drail over 2.5' of 10# flouro, and hammered silver leaves in "Spotty", "Crazy Jack", and Pink w/black dot & a black or white stripe.
May the 4th be with you (4.May, for those in the back row...): I arrived behind Bart's about 4:15 pm, and again found a pile of people lined up on the rock pile. Once again I shoe-horned my way in, and set up for (more) casting practice. The Farm'y hadn't fallen much from yesterday, only about 1' or so. The current was stiffer than yesterday, the water had cleared a bit more, and I measured a surface temp of 53ºF. Over the next hour, only a couple of shad were landed, but the alewives showed up here and there, including a Blueback, the first bucky we've seen this year. After that first hour, things picked up a bit with 4 or 5 more landed, most released (including a 3.2# roe full of eggs), and another couple or 3 lost. I, at least, C&R a couple of alewives to keep the off.
Terminal tackle: I had to stay with the 1.5 oz drail with the current, over a 2'-2.5'leader of 10# flouro, and hammered silver leaves in "Spotty", Pink w/black dot, and Jamaican.
I may, or may not take casting practice on the rock pile tomorrow, and won't Saturday and Sunday due to events with the Jeep club I'm in; gotta try to break something else! Upgrades... If you're fishing the Derby, good luck!
Took today off after Thursday's single hookup in the crowd at the Chicopee main pool and a skunk trolling the lower Chicopee yesterday and the CT River being unfishably high and muddy. But the CT River flow is now dropping like a stone and although still high should be clear and fish-able everywhere tomorrow. Plan to launch South Hadley and anchor along good mid river flows away from the shore crowds. Hoping shad will cooperate, I'm due.
7.May: I arrived at the Wall just before noon. The river had fallen over the last couple of days to about 4' below the top course of the Wall. The water was clear, occasional flotsam dislodged by passing water craft was sporadic, and the current was good. Many of the usual suspects were plying the river, as I expected on such a nice day. They reported shad were being caught with regularity. Schweet! And there were a few shad on the bank, or in coolers.
About 12:30 or so I thought I got snagged in some line. I pulled, it gave a little, but didn't budge, then I pulled harder. It gave a little more, but it still didn't budge. I thought I was snagged, so I figured to break it off, and pulled harder still, gripping the reel to stay the drag. A head shake or two, and the fight was on! It was out there, deep, and used the current to strip line off the drag, headed to Middletown or Portland; and it sang my favorite song. After 4-5 minutes, I was able to turn it's head upstream, and I figured it was foul-hooked from the weight and trouble it gave me. It made a few more short runs, but eventually she got into water skinny enough to get a few glimpses, and into a net. Sure enough, she was foul-hooked in the bony, joint area of a pectoral fin. Little wonder she had so much leverage. She was a nice fatty, and I wanted to get a weight on her so I kept her in the net in the water as Bill set up his scale. She came in at 3.4#. In my haste to release her, I forgot to get my obligatory Kodak Moment™. Ah, well--I have the witnesses, and memory. About 1:30 pm I C&R a little buck. You can be sure I got my Kodak Moment™, LOL.
Things slowed down after 1:30, and the last of the folx fishing the Derby had left for their last call weigh-ins before they shuttered the doors. A few more folx showed up, but the catching was slow, and sporadic. I C&R one more small buck, and after another dozen--just one more cast!--I headed out at about 4:pm. Three for the day, my PB this year. And that roe! Today was a good day for me.
Terminal tackle: 1.5 oz drail, over 3'-4'of 10# flouro. A hammered silver willow "Spotty" got my first 2 shad, a pink w/black dot and white stripe got nada, and my last shad was taken with a hammered silver "Candy Corn" willow.
I'll be back to the Wall tomorrow after work. Whatever you're chasing, tight lines!
8.May: I got out of work a little early, and was at the Wall just past 4:pm. There were about 10 regulars working the water, and reports of a few shad being caught throughout the day. The water was down almost another foot, turbid, but with little flotsam, and the current was less strong than it was yesterday. I started off with my 7' Bass Pro Graphite series Medium action rod/Penn 4400 SS reel set up, with a 1.5 oz drail over 4' of 10# flouro, but the drail was a little too much for the diminished current. I was too lazy to change it to a 1 oz drail, as my U/L set up (4'6" Ugly Stik Pro/Penn 4200 SS) was handy, rigged with a 3/4 oz drail, and ready to go. I had no problem finding and keeping the bottom with the lighter set up.
I was there almost 2 1/2 hours before supper called, and I saw a half dozen or so shad caught. I think all were bucks, except for maybe one lone roe. We also saw a few alewives, a white perch, and a little dinky bronze back landed. I managed to hook a couple of alewives to keep the stinky-kitty off, but no shad for moi. As I found out yesterday, the bulk of the action is earlier in the day. It has been pretty slow in the afternoon when I typically get out of work. They're in there, but the pods are scattered, and small.
Congratulations to the Shad Derby winners, and I know a couple of them, nice work! I can't believer we are already approaching the end of the season. But, while the shad are here for the next couple of weeks, I'll be getting out as often as I can manage. Tight lines!
I haven't been able to get out but once since my last report. It was a short trip to the Wall, and unremarkable. No fish that day...
12.May: I stopped at the rock pile by the RR bridge at Bart's after work, arriving about 4:15 pm. No one was there, surprisingly for such a nice summer-like day. The air temp was the low 80sºF, but it was slightly overcast, so it remained very nice. The water was way down from last week, but not the lowest I've seen it this year. The current was good, the water clear, but there were a lot of maple seeds ("helicopters") floating by, but they didn't trouble the line. The water temp was mid-60sºF.
I was still setting up when another shadaholic showed up, and we began the ritual casting together. Neither of us caught anything but snags, 'though he claimed a hit or two. My buddy Bill showed up about an hour after we started casting practice. I guess the other guy decided he had enough casting practice, and since the shad weren't cooperating, he beat feet. Bill mated his new Stradic reel to his pole, and we got him rigged up with terminal tackle. As he had not been out for shad for about 4 years, and had none of his own tackle, we called the Guy with the Fish Hat to stock his larder. After Jerry took care of us, we got to fishing, or I should say, casting practice. About 15 minutes after we started, Bill C&R a fat blueback herring, then we fell back into practicing our casts. And, being dedicated, or stubborn (probably both) kept at it until a little before 8:pm, when Bill caught a small buck shad. His first shad in 4 years, it pretty much made his day. Even though I got the stinky kitty , it was worth seeing him light up fighting that shad, and holding it up for his Kodak Moment™. By this time, the 'skeeters were getting thick, so we packed up, and headed to our respective homes for Afterbite, and supper.
I used my U/L setup today. Terminal tackle: 3/4 oz drail over 1.5'-2' 10# flouro, and hammered silver willows in yellow w/red dot, Spotty, green/yellow w/black dot, candy corn, and a couple of other flashy colors. A 5/8 oz drail would have been better, but I was too lazy to swap out the weights.
Tomorrow Bill and I plan to hit the Wall in Cromwell before noon. With the lower water level in the Farm'y, I think the CT River will be more productive. That, and standing on the grassy landing is a whole lot more comfortable than on the rock pile. YMMV, and invariably will...
Thanks for the encouragement, MikeV. As a dedicated Shadaholic, the dearth of shad doesn't phase me (I'm not a quitter). I liken it to a DRL schedule of reinforcement. When the numbers of shad are low, and hookups far between, that one outlier that does hit becomes, (whether it's landed or lost is not mutually exclusive) my reinforcer. And I need that hit, LOL!
13.May: I arrived at the Wall about 10:am this morning, early for me, but reports consistently indicated the shad were around earlier in the day. I found a half dozen reprobates taking casting practice. No reports of shad, but plenty of alewives being caught. And in fact, several Bluebacks were caught in short order. For the day, I C&R at least a half dozen, and lost about as many. It seemed like they were grabbing the weight, giving it a few headshakes, and then gone. The river was way down, making long handled landing nets the order of the day to reach the water. Other than Alewives and Bluebacks, nothing was caught except the occasional snag, or a fellow shadaholic's line. Until about 11:30 am. A couple of shad were C&R on either side of me a few minutes apart. Just before noon I had a solid hit close to the Wall. It felt heavy, and stayed deep. When the water got skinny, and it almost bumped the Wall, it made a couple of short runs. As Dylan manned the net, he had just barely gotten under her, and the leaf came flying back at us. I thought she was gone, but Dylan has net skills, and saved it. Thanks, Dylan! She was long, fat, and full of eggs. I thought it was over 3#, and maybe closer to 3.5#. Dylan thought it was about 3.8#, the same size as one he weighed yesterday. About 12:30 pm I set the hook in another shad, but it was much smaller, a long, but skinny buck that might have weighed a little over 2#. Things slowed down after that, but by the time I left a little after 2:pm, 9 shad had been caught, and all but 2 bleeders were released.
Today was a good day. And tomorrow promises to be one, too. Happy Mothers' Day to all you mothers, and tight lines to everyone--especially if you're fishing the Holyoke Shad Derby! And if you are, good luck.
Terminal tackle: 1 oz drail over 3' 10# flouro. I got the roe on the Jamaican pattern, and the buck hit a willow in hot pink/yellow w/pink dot, all in hammered silver.