Below are random thoughts, which I hope will help with your shad fishing.
1. Check the conditions of the river before you go fishing. Make a note of river levels that are favorable in areas where you fish. See links on Shad Fishing Page to get current river levels.
2. Remember Shad are current related fish. They use the current to navigate the river to find their breeding areas. Shad will rest in pools and eddies, but they seem to be more active when they are traveling the more defined current lines in the river. These are the areas you should look for to do your fishing.
3. Areas warmed by water from the power plants are recommend for early season fishing when the river temperatures are cold. Shad are more active once the water temperature gets over 50 degrees.
4. Keep in touch with the movement of the fish up the river. The Shad Hotline and fishing reports such as those on this site will give you an indication of where the main body of the fish is located.
5. Shallow water areas above deep water are good areas to fish because of the current and the ease of access to shore fisherman by wadding into the river.
6. As with most fishing, dawn and dusk are the prime fishing times, but often late morning and afternoons can be hot. Check the river as often as you can to see what is going on.
7. Many shad fisherman are using double rigs to take shad. Many use double dart and dart and spoon combinations. These sometimes result in double headers. Using a dart instead of a weight to cast light lures such as spoons and flies is an effective method.
8. Pick a few areas on the river where you will concentrate your fishing. Study these areas and fish them often. Make notes of what works and when under what conditions.
Remember, the easier the access, the more crowed the area would be, so if you like privacy when you fish, find a remote area. Fishing crowded areas has some advantages. With many people fishing you know when the fish are biting and often you can tell what you are doing wrong if others are having success and you are not. Talk to other fishermen. You can learn a lot.
9. Using light tackle is recommended for shad fishing. Shad lures are light and to get good distance use light line. I prefer 4 and 6 lb test. The new braided lines like Fireline work very well.
10. Normally shad move up the river at a rate of about 8 miles a day. This rate can be slower if the water is very cold and/ or the river level is very high.
11. Weather conditions greatly affect when they move into the river and how well they bite on a particular day. I have found dark rainy days often to be very good for shad fishing.
12. Water temperature is extremely important in shad fishing. Shad activity picks up when the river is over 50 degrees. The fish will continue to move north until the temperature reaches about 65 degrees when the urge to breed takes over. This being the case from year to year the fish breed at different locations on the river.
13. The level your lure travels in the water column can greatly affect your success. If you are not having success, vary the weight of your lure or the speed of your retrieve until you find what works.
14. Safety should come before catching fish. Be extremely careful wading the river especially during high water. A walking staff is a great tool to keep you from falling on those slippery rock. Keep a belt tight around your waders so they do not fill up with water if you fall. Korkers on your boots also help you maintain your footing.
15. Carry a small piece of green scrubbie pad to buff up your shad flutter spoons and other lures.
16. Attaching a strong magnet to a walking stick can be handy to pick up dropped darts, pliers or other metal items. A wire, which can be bent, can also be helpful at times to retrieve items.
17. Please practice catch and release, but if you do kill a fish by mistake save it for
bait fishing. I scale the fish and cut it up into good bait size pieces and freeze it. I have caught blues, stripers, sea robins, and skates on shad baits. NEW
More to come