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Date: April 23, 2007 at 19:16:34
From: Ted Rzepski, [c-67-186-190-166.hsd1.ma.comcast.net]
Subject: Shad fishing in Virginia


While visiting family I fished for Shad last week in the Rappahannock river in Fredericksburg Virginia. The first day the water was too high from the recent northeaster for me to fish so I reconnoitered. The next day the river dropped a little. The sky was filled with Ospreys, Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, King Fishers, Gulls and Terns. Fishermen lined the river’s banks. I squezzed into a spot that was not favorable for back casting so roll casts where the only way to get the fly working. American shad, Hickory Shad where being landed by the spin fishermen, they used darts, and spoons and heavy weights to keep the lures down. I managed a few Hickory shad who were splashing on the surface. I had to get the fly deeper. How?
I had half a dozen different patterns that I tied from patterns in a book. And had lots of ideas for colors of the flies and how to fish them from Ken Abrahms and his message boards friends. I tied on a weighted fly. Got a small male American Shad. I was using a sink tip line. The fish seemed to be out at least fifty feet so I realized the floating section of the fly line was causing the fly to plane up in the swift current. I am new to fresh water fishing so I thought, “What would Ken do?” Mayb mend the line or put on split shot. I had no split shot so I began to mend the line up current. After about a thousand mends and no fish I figured out mending up stream exposed more line to the current and planed the line causing the fly to rise. So I started mending downstream: fish on! Then more guys edged in next to me making roll casting impossible. I looked for other spots to fish.
No other spots seemed to work out so I took a nap on a rock by a little waterfall.
Raindrops woke me up. A light bulb went off: none of the other fisherman had raincoats. The rain was pouring I pulled up my hood and went back to the prime spot-empty! I waded out far enough to be able to back cast. Lots of fish. I caught something that went into my backing. It looked like a small carp. Then I got into a herd of what they call mud shad. These things look like Pirahannas but have herring-like mouths. The Ospreys were splashing all over the place. Many birds caught Blue Black herring. I caught a few herring and was surprised how hard they hit and how deep they took the fly.
The next day the river was mobbed. I went way down stream and fished a wide run. Wading was dangerous so I broke off a branch to use as a staff and only went knee deep. Managed several fish but had to head back North.
Virginia stocks American shad and has a damn elimination program. Next April I hope my in-laws invite us back. I’ll bring a full sink line, split shots and three times as many flies. The southern trees loved my flies!
Thanks Ken and everyone else for all the great ideas.


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