This super little fish has many times enabled me to get on theriver before June 16th and given me some fantastic fishing days toremember. Those of you who think a fish has to be an armful to beworth catching probably wont be interested in this article….butthose who measure a day’s fishing on an enjoyment scale the shad haslots to offer!
My first meeting with the shad was nearly 30yrs ago, in those days(I was 16) I used to get a ride up to the Wye with a great bunch ofguys who loved Eels – catching them and eating them! Anyway, oneevening the river was alive with dashing darting silver fish and Iwas mesmerised by them. But despite me casting lobworms at them likea madman they didn’t want to know!
A year or two later the same thing happened on the Lugg (a majorWye tributary) only this time I had a couple of those tiny cardedspinners that Woolworths sold tucked away in my box (do you rememberthe days when all the tackle you possessed went with you!) and thatevening the shad came thick and fast and made a novice feel like aking amongst anglers, much to the disgust of my mentors big BillCottam and Keithy Whitehouse (whose party trick was to bite the headoff a live eel!) It was Keithy who threatened to throw me in unless Iput lobworms back on and started catching eel!
Before anyone judges these guys though, remember they were rearedin a different era.
The shad is a mysterious fish, apparently they won’t enter therivers until the water temperature is higher than the temperature ofthe sea. Once they do enter the river they really are lean, mean,fighting machines – the energy these little fish use is unbelievable!Their upstream passage has to be seen to be believed as they hurtleupstream to their spawning grounds.
There are in fact two species of shad, the Twaite shad and it’slarger cousin the Allis, I have never seen or caught the Allis shadand they are a rare protected species as their numbers have declinedalarmingly over the years.
The Twaite shad enters the Severn estuary and runs up the Severn,Usk and Wye (and, as I know for certain, the Lugg). I honestly don’tknow if other rivers are graced by their presence. I they are I wouldlove to know, but for me it is the Wye that has the draw for a daysshad fishing. As far as I know the highest they can run on the Severnis Tewksbury but that’s because the weir at that location stopsthem!
Some terrific fishing used to be available there from boats, andto a lesser extent the banks, so that could well be an area worth avisit to anyone interested, David Jones used to be the lock/weirkeeper, so a call to him via BWB may pay dividends to anyoneinterested.
For me, shad fishing has to be a laid back affair, preferablystarting in one of the many fine Herefordshire watering holes! A nicebit of scoff, a pint of cider (just the one mind!) and then a nicewalk along the river with the minimum of tackle is my idea ofpiscatorial heaven. There’s always plenty of time at the end of Mayto the beginning of June – the heavy stuff can wait!
Shad may be supercharged but they don’t grow particularly large,and anyway, the enjoyment they give can’t be weighed on Avons! I canonly remember weighing one that I thought was a little on the largesize. If my memory serves me well it went all of 11/4lb! But I thinkit was out of the water more than in it was in whilst I playedit!
Shad deserve a sporting chance. My favourite rod before somescumbag raided my old tackle shed was an ultra-light lure rod I hadbuilt on an old fly blank. I don’t know the manufacturer and tackleshops don’t have many blanks laying around nowadays so I have nevergot round to replacing it. This year I am going to fish with a flyrod, sinking line and lures – and I can’t wait!
It really is up to the angler to decide whether to fish with alight spinning reel and light rod or the wet fly/lure because if theshad are about they are very accommodating! They tend to moveupstream in shoals of anything from half a dozen to lots! Sometimesin very quick succession. I wish I could now dive into a ‘how to castand retrieve’ sentence or two but I can’t! I usually just cast acrossthe current and retrieve quickly! There are either shad there andit’s fireworks time or nothing! I have had as many as half a dozentakes on the retrieve, some fall off, some twist themselves offduring the fight and I land some! In between the bouts oflaughter!
Don’t spend a fortune on spinners and lures, the cheapest tinyMepps and the small to medium nasty lures will do. I have caught shadon silver paper-wrapped hooks, wool-wrapped hooks and by strippingelectrical cable and pushing that over a hook. Overall, the tinyMepps have been the best though.
So if you fancy a trip into some of the most breathtaking sceneryin the country on one of the finest rivers you will ever see, getyourself down to the Wye and partake of a meal, a drop of apple juiceand a few lean mean silver machines.
No wonder the Wye pike grow so big……but that’s anotherstory!