Today was another successful day of fly fishing the shad run on the James River just below the falls at the 14th Street bridge in downtown Richmond. It was a summer like day with temps in the upper 80's. It was also a bit windy but that's not much of a problem when casting a 300gr depth charge fly line.
These shad are a blast to catch on the fly. Their wide bodies, vibrancy, and the strong current all result in a nice bend even in an 8wt rod. I think I've dialed in the trick to catching them. I probably got a strike on nearly every cast and hooked up frequently. I used a flat 20lb leader about 5-6ft with a short 12lb fluoro tippet. I got downtown around 4:30pm and fished just upstream of the bridge the entire time. I fished hand tied weighted streamer patterns in the size 6-4 range. I lost several flies from fishing just off the bottom, but that's to be expected. The river has a fair amount of trash to get hung up on, which is annoying but also expected.
Lot's of gizzards today and a few hickory. These fish aren't what I would call precise feeders. They flash quickly at the fly and turn back toward the bottom. Because of this, I foul hook them pretty frequently. Lucky for the fish, I use barbless hooks and all the fish I've caught have been released in good health. The only thing I haven't tried is using small silver or gold spoon flies. I think they'll really tear up a spoon fly.
Still waiting on the stripers. They're there, I know, but looking forward to when they show up in big numbers so I can experience the epitome of urban fly fishing. When they do show, you can bet you'll be seeing pics here. Having fun.