Sunday, June 18, 2017

American Shad Brown Lining

Brown lining- fly fishing polluted industrial area rivers and streams. 

Ben B. (Atlantic Salmon Flies) was kind enough to let me join him on a run up to Massachusetts to fish for shad, something I've meant to do for a while. American Shad are an interesting fish. They grow to a fair size and can put up a great fight. Runs, jumps, tail walking... the full package you'd expect from a silver sea runner. 

The water is not so glamorous. It's gritty, urban, stinky and probably unhealthy, but there are shad and at times lots of them, so we go and put up with the stink anyway. 

American Shad are filter feeders. When in the ocean they swim in large schools with their mouths wide open, taking in plankton. Why they hit flies and lures is a bit of a mystery, but swinging a brightly colored fly or dart gets them to hit. It's a fun way to fish, and oftentimes the takes are aggressive. Some days it's just fish after fish. This was not one of those days, but I wasn't expecting it to be. It's late in the run and although the number of shad running up the big river this year has been exceptional, the fishing has been a little bit slower than normal. Sonny Yu (Fly Fishing for American Shad) and his little brother were there before we got there, and all of us caught some shad. Ben and I both hooked into smallmouth as well. It was fun. Interesting water, interesting fish.

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(Photo courtesy Ben Bilello) 

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(Photo courtesy Ben Bilello) 
Because the shad fishing wasn't all that fast and furious and seemed to be getting slower we decided to head to another spot, this time looking for stripers. We found some, albeit micro sized, and we caught them on some most unlikely flies... nymphs! Ben fished a Copper John and I fished a Shimmer Stone. I sent a couple of photos to Rich Strolis this morning, because he is the designer of the Shimmer Stone... all he had to say was "get outta here!". It was a weird evening. Nymphs actually out-fished traditionally productive striper flies. You just never know.

Gotta say thanks to Ben, he let me borrow some gear and that was the right call... my 8wt would have been too heavy for those fish. Next spring I'll have to make the run up north a few more times. Maybe. The gritty brown river is a little much but the pull of silver is hard to resist. 


  1. That was fun! I've never caught one that big. Guess they are use to eating whatever goes into their mouth.
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. That would make sense if we were flossing them, but they actually attack brightly colored flies.