Hickory Shad Roundup!

edited June 2005 in Catch Reports
Fishing reports indicated that Hickory Shad were stacked up in the American River on its annual spawning
run and begging to be caught. So early this morning a few friends and I trotted over to the American River
to try our luck in fishing for the anadramous Hickory Shad. The river was still running unusually high due to
the massive releases from the dams to make room for the expected snow melt from the warm summer weather.

  • Chinook
    Due to the fast water, we used a sliding 1-oz egg sinker together and a 4-foot leader with a shad dart tied at the end.
    I utilized a 9-foot rod and my trusty Shimano Custom-X 3000 reel spooled with 8-lb test copolymer line. One will
    cast at a 45-degree upriver, and slowly tighten the line as it drifted downstream bearing in mind to keep
    the sliding weight off the river bottom during its drift.

  • Chinook
    A spawning shad may weigh between 2 to 4-lbs and some can run even larger. A hooked shad will put up a spirited
    fight and may jump a few times in the process trying to shake the hook off. Since the Hickory Shad has a relatively
    soft mouth, it is easily lost if one is not careful in fighting the hooked fish.

  • Chinook
    Shad darts come in many different colors and these are my favorites as the shad seem to prefer them more.
    The females are usually the larger fish and this one caught weighed about 4.5-lbs. The color of the Hickory Shad
    range from a light silver bronze to bright silver with a tinge of red. The shad migrates in from the Pacific Ocean
    to spawn in the rivers and upon completion of its spawning - it will return to the Pacific Ocean until next year.

  • Chinook
    Hickory Shad are not a desirable food fish as it has a lot of fine bones. Smoked Hickory Shad meat is good
    when smoked according to my friend but I have not had the chance to try it. The shad schools hang out on the
    bottom of the river in the fast current so it is a challenge to catch them and try not to get snagged on the river
    bottom simultaneously.

  • hackernox
    looks like a local Terebok. The bigger cousin of Asam fish :)

    And the local Terebok is very bony too.
  • Chinook
    Shad runs in schools and when you hook one, you know that a school is in the area. The fish move up and down
    the river and as they moved around upstream and then downsteam and vice versa, hits occurred. Fish were
    lost at time from the hook being dislodged from the shad's soft mouth to under-water structure interference.

  • Chinook
    One has to pay close attention to the weighted line as it drifted downstream for the river bottom is very
    rocky and sunken obstacles were a ever-present threat. We all lost our share of weights and shad darts in the
    process but it was worth the pain of having to re-tie a new set-up with the anticipated strike from the aggressive
    Hickory Shad in the fast current in the deep river bottom.

  • Chinook
    As the shad dart (lure) headed downriver just off the river bottom in a wide arc drift pattern, a shad may
    follow and hit it. The tell-tale sign of a shad hitting the lure is like the feeling of having the lure suddenly
    stopping dead in its tracks and a heavy weight at the end of the line. The shad does not strike in the hit-and-run
    style of a striped bass or salmon. When that (bite) occurs, one has to set the hook before the Hickory Shad
    spits the dart out from its mouth.

  • Chinook
    The Hickory Shad will bite all day long. With the early summer temperatures reaching 90-degrees
    Fahrenheight yesterday by late morning, we all had to take breaks under the shade of giant cottonwood trees
    along the river in-between strikes. One of us will continue fishing while the rest took a 'siesta' until he screamed
    "Fish on!". We would all then rush down to the river's edge and immediately begin drifting for the shad again.

  • Michael Lim
    I believe I read about these fishes on a fly mag once. And boy, I guess they would be rather fun on the lighter sets if you were to hook on them.

    You tried casting a fly to them?

    PS : nice pics, keep it up...

  • Chinook
    It was a fun-filled morning with a lot of shad being caught with the largest close to being a 6-pounder fish. A lot of lost
    fishing weights and lures with a nice sun-tan thrown in. The clear-blue skies and the breeze coupled with very low
    humidity made it a wonderful outing. As we hiked out back, we decided to stop at the trout hatchery to see the
    juvenile smolts in the rearing ponds.

  • Chinook
    Michael Lim" said:
    I believe I read about these fishes on a fly mag once. And boy, I guess they would be rather fun on the lighter sets if you were to hook on them. You tried casting a fly to them?
    PS : nice pics, keep it up...
    Hi Michael,
    Thanks. The shad take flies real well and you can see fly-fishermen on the river (when the river is in normal flow but
    not at its current stage) fishing for them. A 7-9 weight rod will be ideal for shad in the American River. I have not tried
    fly-fishing for shad.
  • Chinook
    The rearing ponds were filled with millions of young juvenile rainbow trout about 4-inches long. We bought fish-food
    pellets from the dispensers located around the ponds and watched the voracious trout splash and churn the waters
    of the holding ponds as we fed the fish. The entire pond area is total enclosed with wire-netting to prevent the
    herons, egrets, king-fishers and cormorants from having a free lunch anytime at the concrete rearing ponds.

  • Chinook
    On the way home, hunger set in and we deicided to stop at a restuarant for lunch. On the way there, we made
    a slight detour to visit the water pumping station located on the American River. It is quite a popular spot with
    fishermen on a year-round basis. Part of the drinking water for the city of Sacramento comes from the American
    River from what I was told. The water here is not as clear as the upper stretches of the American River where
    we were fishing earlier.

  • Chinook
    We stopped at this wonderful Mexican restaurant known for its excellent food and the huge cedarwood carvings
    by an unknown artist. The carvings all depicted a figure of the wild west that once was a big part of the early
    California life and landscape. Highly recommended place to dine and visit should you visit Sacramento, California.

  • Chinook
    I hope you enjoyed this post on Hickory Shad fishing in the American River. The shad fishing will last until late
    July when the spawned-out fish heads back out to the Pacific Ocean for another year before it repeats its annual
    spawning run again next year beginning in May.

  • Robsen Chang

    Nice pics. and CR...well done...good info for fishos on this side of the world too.. :wink: ...for me anyway.. :wink: 8)

  • barraa
    hi Chinook, wonderful posts abt these shads. I suppose there ain't restrictions on bag limits on this fish? So wat do u do with all these catches? Smoked them all? Jus curious.

    Tight Lines
  • Chinook
    barraa" said:
    hi Chinook, wonderful posts abt these shads. I suppose there ain't restrictions
    on bag limits on this fish? So wat do u do with all these catches? Smoked them all? Jus curious.
    Tight Lines

    Hi Barra,
    Actually, I just arrived home from Hickory Shad fishing. After completing the posting of yesterday's
    fishing photos late this morning, I decided to go shad fishing by the pumping station on the
    American River for a few hours.
    The bag limit is 25 Hickory Shad per day but I have heard of people catching and releasing
    more than 50 per day. I don't eat the shad but friends do so they gladly take it off my hands. I
    will smoke salmon and trout but not shad - too bony and not enough meat on it to warrant the effort.
  • Chinook
    Since it was such a pleasant late morning in the low 70's (degrees Fahrenheight), I decided to drive
    down to the pumping station on the American River with a friend to see how the Hickory Shad fishing was.
    We were not disappointed. The sporty shad were hitting and we had a blast fishing for them. The only
    difference between yesteday's spot upriver and this spot by the water pumping station was the significantly
    increased depth.

  • Chinook
    Even with all the boating activity on the river, it did not affect the bite much. The fishing news reports were
    indeed correct - it sure seemed like the Hickory Shad runs are stacked up in the American River from the numbers
    of fish we caught and what we saw other the fishermen caught while we were fishing. Oldtown Sacramento was
    less than a mile downriver from the pumping station and we could hear the jazz music echoing upriver to our ears.

  • Chinook
    It was interesting to watch the different boats cruise on by in the deep mid-section of the American River as
    we drift-fished for shad in the past current. Then we watched the railroad bridge slowly swung 90-degrees
    sideways to facilitate the upriver passageway of the tourist paddleboat, the City Of Sacramento" from its berthing
    position on the wharf at Oldtown Sacramento.

  • Chinook
    In-between snack breaks and re-tieing broken leaders and lures, we chatted with the occasional fishermen
    headed to their own 'favorite' hotspots along the river. It was a very pleasant 3 hours and we plan do it
    again the following weekend or as long the shad are biting!

  • Chinook
    Around 2PM we decided to call it a day and headed for home. After all, it has been a wonderful and pleasant
    weekend fishing for the anadromous Hickory Shad in the American River! I hope all you FK's will have a
    productive and pleasant week ahead of you.

  • Chinook
    hackernox" said:looks like a local Terebok. The bigger cousin of Asam fish :) And the local Terebok is very bony too.

    You're right. Hacker. I think the shad over here is a close relative of the Terubok (Tenualosa toli) in Asia. They
    both look very much alike. Below is a link to an article of the UNDP-implemented Terubok project (in PDF-file
    format) sponsored by HSBC) with a photo of the Asian Terubok fish.

    http://www.undp.org.my/cms_undp/documen ... an0804.pdf
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